Bolo’s World

June 10th, 2005at 04:50pm Posted by Eli

This is just silly:

Thomas Benya wore a braided bolo tie under his purple graduation gown this week as a subtle tribute to his Native American heritage.

Administrators at his Charles County school decided the string tie was too skinny. They denied him his diploma, at least temporarily, as punishment.


The courts have ruled that students have limited rights to express themselves at school as long as their behavior is not disruptive…. David Rocah, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said there are limits to those rights. Carrying political placards or wearing a clown suit to graduation would presumably be disruptive. The question, he said, is whether a bolo tie under a gown is disruptive.

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting graduation to be a formal occasion,” he said, “but the idea that everyone should look the same — they’re not all the same.”

Rocah called the school’s interpretation a “narrow and cramped view of personal autonomy.”

Jeez, lighten up! It’s just a tie! Give the poor kid his diploma already! Yes, I’m sure the school doesn’t want to set some kind of Dangerous Precedent, but come on. A bolo tie may be unconventional, but there’s nothing inherently distracting about it. Yes, there are lurid bolo ties (mine are, Benya’s is not), but the same is true of “regular” ties, and the school has no restrictions on those.

Graduation Day is supposed to be about the students, not the school or, God forbid, its administrators. So stop digging in your heels to defend the letter of the law, and do the right thing. Kids only get one high school graduation, and it should be an occasion of joy and pride, not an occasion for struggling against bureaucracy. There’ll be plenty of time for that later on, I promise.

UPDATE: I think this may be a little outside my usual “beat”, but the thing is, in high school and college I was the guy who dressed like a nut. No intent to be disruptive, really – the bizarre 70s clothes just tickled my fancy, and I enjoyed dressing that way as an expression of my eccentricity. So maybe that makes me a little hypersensitive to heavyhanded attempts to stifle sartorial self-expression.

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