As a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Mason Valerius is the patriotic sort. So the 16-year-old student at Bemidji High wore an American flag sweatshirt to school.
Not just any flag. It featured a series of bombs and bullets depicting the stripes. He said he was just trying to support the greatest amendment of 79our Constitution, the right to bear arms.
This, however, was not in keeping with the school's dress code, which bans things that “could be considered offensive,” reports the Bemidji Pioneer. Such as items referring to weapons and violence.
Though school fashion guidelines can occasionally be capricious, as we learned last week from Hugo Elementary, there is good reason to void the display of munitions couture.
Last year, there were 24 school shootings in the U.S., resulting in 114 people being killed or injured. These days, school-aged kids are actually far more likely to die by gun than cops or active-duty service people. Instead of showcasing their military service, someday would-be congressmen will boast of their bravery in surviving American adolescence.
We shouldn't expect Mason Valerius to know all this. He's a mere 16, isolated in the northwest reaches of Minnesota. It's an age where it's hard to fathom that our fealty to the Second Amendment has made us the most violent country in the industrialized world. Just six nations compose half of the world's deaths by gun: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, and the good ol' USA.
As you can see, the Second Amendment has allowed us to travel in august company.
A teacher asked him not to wear the sweatshirt again. That reasonable request would transform into a rumor that Bemidji High had banned the American flag.
Soon, a few dozen parents and students were outside the school, protesting this affront. They wore their finest red, white, and blue ensembles.
The flag ban wasn't true. But in the year 2019, outrage is better served without fact involved in the preparations. Or curiosity. Or any attempt to discover if it might be warranted.
Eventually, the group was approached by Principal Jason Stanoch, a U.S. Navy vet and unlikely villain in any flag-banning episode.
No, he told them. The flag had not been banned.
No, there'd been no discussion of expelling our foremost cloth-based symbol.
The protesters had gathered at the base of the school flag pole, after all. Wouldn't this suggest that something was amiss with their theory?
They would eventually slump away, having wasted their time on a flag ban that never was. But at least they could be secure in knowing that new outrages would emerge to satisfy their yearnings. For if you're in the mood, a fresh selection of outrage always awaits.