Sometimes the well intentioned censorship from school officials actually lights a fire and draws more attention than allowing a student to exercise his first amendment rights would. Such seems to be the case of Jaxon Jester, a seventh grader at Peachtree Charter Middle School in DeKalb, Georgia. His class was headed to CNN for a field trip, and the young man wore a t-shirt for the occasion that said: FNN – Fake News Network. School administrators made him change before leaving with his class.
What happened when words go out about this on the fruited plain? The internet went wild, and Jaxon became a hero to those sick and tired of the American mainstream media and their liberal slants and bias, half-hearted “reporting,” outright lies and more.
The DeKalb community on the other hand was not nearly as completely enthused.
Peachtree Charter Middle School later issued an apology to the Jesters but the damage was done. The town of Dekalb was ablaze with debate and online forums fervently discussed the ethics of the matter. Many people actually defended the school’s censorship and claimed it was the Jester’s responsibility to curb their kid’s political views.
No doubt any sort of writing on a t-shirt that smacked of liberal causes like, say, animal rights, or abortion on demand would be acceptable, but not trolling CNN for their truly awful news presentation.
Jaxon’s parents didn’t exactly like the way their decision making was being trashed, and so his father, Stan, took to the internet and wrote a blog entry on the matter.
“This year when the CNN tour was announced, my 7th grade son Jaxon asked me if he could purchase an FNN-Fake News Network shirt to wear for his field trip. As an advocate for the First Amendment, I agreed to his request. He picked out the shirt he wanted and and ordered it from Amazon. His mother cautioned him that he might cause a controversy and needed to be prepared for that. He was fully aware of the implications of his decision and made the affirmative choice to wear his shirt.”
Stan says he’s “disappointed by the hypocrisy of the situation” and dismayed by how the school handled his son’s situation.
“I defend speech and expression, even if I disagree, or it makes me uncomfortable,” he continued.
And so it should be taught to the younger citizens of the country that free speech and expression, even when it is offensive to others, is a fundamental right. The students of Peachtree Charter Middle School are getting an up close and personal look at how exercising that right can play out when the people in authority disagree.
Hopefully, they will all learn something positive from this.