"Yeah, I would have took my stuff off if they had to take their stuff off too."
It's a big controversy about... stuff.
No, it's a controversy about some high school kids wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo. Watch the video at the link. You can see that the kids who were into Cinco de Mayo felt "disrespected" by the display of the American flag on what they thought of as their day. It felt like a response... a debate. And I understand how all those kids felt. But the flag shirts were, of course, speech, and the school cannot go down the road of viewpoint discrimination, even if the school officials have some well-intended idea about making members of the minority group feel comfortable.
What the school needs is a neutral ban on T-shirts with symbols or writing. Require real shirts, with no writing or picture. Or go with uniforms. But if you let some kids speak via shirts, you have to let others respond via shirt.
Speech by shirt is a type of debate, but it's hardly the best kind of debate. It's quite close to the signaling that gang members do, which has no place in school. There is an appropriate worry about violence. There should be order in schools, and there can be strict rules limiting what students wear. Instead, teach students to express themselves with words. Help them develop their ideas beyond the rudimentary level of calling the flag stuff.
I remember when the use of the flag in clothing was all about disrespect. It was the kind of hippie shit that enraged WWII veterans. That was back when you weren't allowed to wear any sort of T-shirt to school. And now these young schoolboys are being used by right-wingers to make various political points. I would prefer to teach all the students to dress better and to speak better — not to say "I would have took my stuff" — and to have vigorous, substantive debates about politics.
And I like the way these schoolboys put on real shirts, shirts with collars, to do their TV interview. It is up to us adults to reach out to them and to help them. They are not our pawns. They mean well, I believe, and they are trying. It is time for all the adults in their world to help them and their antagonists to become the kind of adults who will make our country a better place.