Wednesday, December 22, 2004



Teen sues school over Confederate dress

A teenager is suing her eastern Kentucky school district for barring her from the prom for wearing a red dress styled as a large Confederate flag.

School officials called Jacqueline Duty's homemade dress too controversial and kept her out of Russell High School's May 1 prom.

Duty's federal lawsuit claims the Russell Independent Board of Education violated her First Amendment right to free speech and her right to celebrate her heritage....

At a news conference in front of the federal courthouse in Lexington on Monday, Duty acknowledged that some might find the Confederate flag offensive.

"Everyone has their own opinion. But that's not mine. I'm proud of where I came from and my background," said the 19-year-old....

--AP/Cincinnati Enquirer

You know, this is a tough one. How would I feel if a kid were excluded from a prom for wearing something with an anti-war message? I'd lean toward free speech, I think -- although a dress code that bans controversial messages (of all kinds) in school and at school-sponsored events could be reasonable, in the interest of civility.

Still, I think I'd say controversial messages should be allowed. So I'd also have to say that Jacqueline Duty should have been allowed to attend her prom in this dress.

And then, ideally, she would have been shunned by all decent people.

Here's another story about her. It says she worked on the dress for four years. Good Lord. It also leads me to conclude that this dress wouldn't have led too many of her classmates to give her a wide berth:

Duty says she was surprised by the tough stance taken against her.

"We've all worn Confederate flags to school before," she told the paper.

Oh, and just in case you're thinking this is just an ordinary prom dress with the Stars 'n' Bars subtly woven in, here's a photo:

The mind reels.

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