[March 03, 2014] When serious automobile accidents occur it usually happens when there are multiple failures involving several driver errors. These errors are usually avoidable and involve simply not paying attention and not obeying the traffic rules.
A few days ago, a unanimous panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that it was permissible for a public high school to demand that students remove clothing that displayed an American flag. The basis of their opinion was justified based on it being for the safety of the students.
The justices were probably right that banning the American flag on clothing would make students less likely to risk bodily harm. We’ll set aside the obvious failure of leadership at the school and California community leaders for a later discussion on why the American flag is considered a “dangerous” thing.
What should be made clear at the most senior federal level is that this is the same logic that was used to justify racial segregation nationally; it was “safer” for the races to be separated and thus we had white-only bathrooms, black-only schools and neighborhoods, and so on. Discrimination was institutionalized because of “safety” concerns.
Lessons in leadership failure should be spotlighted for the very reason that it takes courage to stand up to such a breakdown in ethical judgment. A reminder that this was not a debate about what is right or wrong, but a “unanimous” decision based on safety.
Over the next several months, it will be entertaining to read about this issue again when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision is overturned.