Re: [sixties-l] John Tinker pledges support for pro-anarchy teen (fwd)

From: nefertiti (
Date: Thu Dec 06 2001 - 07:16:21 EST

  • Next message: Ron Jacobs: "[sixties-l] Terrorism of War"

    Is there a way to write her and give at least some verbal support by e-mail
    from all over the world?
    Jochen (Stuttgart, Germany)

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <>
    To: "sixties-l" <>
    Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2001 8:38 AM
    Subject: [sixties-l] John Tinker pledges support for pro-anarchy teen (fwd)

    > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    > Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2001 22:52:53 -0800
    > From: radtimes <>
    > Subject: John Tinker pledges support for pro-anarchy teen
    > John Tinker pledges support for pro-anarchy teen
    > By The Associated Press
    > 12.04.01
    > CHARLESTON, W.Va. ^ A former Sissonville High School student
    > suspended in October for her anti-war, pro-anarchy stances has
    > gained the support of a Vietnam War protester whose famous Supreme
    > Court case helped protect students' rights.
    > John Tinker made headlines after he wore a black armband at North
    > High School in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1965 when an overwhelming
    > majority of Americans supported the war effort in Vietnam.
    > Four years later, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines
    > Independent Community School District that Iowa school
    > administrators should not have prohibited Tinker and other
    > students from wearing armbands to school because they didn't cause
    > widespread disruptions.
    > The Tinker case became a landmark decision in the history of
    > freedom of expression in America, said John Johnson, a Northern
    > Iowa University professor who wrote a book called The Struggle for
    > Student Rights: Tinker v. Des Moines and the 1960s.
    > "It wasn't a popular position at the time, but it was a position
    > that had a right to be heard," Johnson said in an interview last
    > week.
    > About 35 years later in West Virginia, Katie Sierra's lawyer
    > argued that the Supreme Court's ruling in Tinker gave the
    > 15-year-old the right to wear anti-war T-shirts to Sissonville
    > High School.
    > The school board's attorney, however, called Sierra's T-shirts
    > "walking billboards" ^ she had scrawled numerous messages on
    > them ^ and a "far cry" from the black armbands Tinker wore.
    > Sierra lost round one in her court battle. A circuit judge
    > prohibited her from wearing her shirts opposing America's bombing
    > of Afghanistan.
    > But the next day, she ripped apart some black cloth she found at
    > home and trotted into Sissonville High wearing a black armband.
    > A week later, she received e-mail from John Tinker. He's 51 now
    > and a computer systems analyst living in a former elementary
    > school in Missouri. He told her not to back down, to stand up for
    > her beliefs and not to lose faith.
    > Tinker has pledged to come to Charleston, if need be, to show his
    > support. They continue to correspond by e-mail.
    > "He said he'd be in the front row of the courtroom," Sierra said.
    > Sierra, meanwhile, has faced a barrage of insults. Students
    > elbowed her and shoved her into her locker, she said. They spit on
    > her mother's car. They shouted "freak" at her. They chanted "USA!
    > USA!"
    > Sierra said she never intended to disrupt school. She said she
    > wasn't seeking attention.
    > But with her T-shirts came a request to start an anarchy club.
    > During a school board meeting in October, Sierra read a dictionary
    > definition of anarchy, which included the word "terrorism."
    > In court documents, school officials acknowledged they couldn't
    > ensure Sierra's safety, short of putting her in "lock-down." They
    > said Sierra's actions had disrupted learning at Sissonville High.
    > Last week, West Virginia's Supreme Court refused to intervene in
    > the case.
    > Sierra's mother, meanwhile, has pulled her from the school out of
    > fear for her safety.
    > Sierra has enrolled in a program in which she stays at home and
    > completes class work on a computer.
    > "This girl needs immediate relief," said Dan Johnston, a lawyer
    > who represented Tinker and other Iowa students during the 1960s.
    > "She's a victim. It's important to get her back into school.
    > "The school board has it backward. If they can't control their
    > schools, then they need new school officials."
    > In Tinker, Johnston successfully argued that Iowa school officials
    > had a double standard.
    > They allowed high school students to wear buttons endorsing
    > political candidates. They also permitted them to wear the German
    > Iron Cross. But they banned black armbands.
    > At Sissonville High, students have pinned red, white and blue
    > ribbons to their shirts since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World
    > Trade Center and Pentagon. They have waved small American flags at
    > school assemblies. They have worn shirts opposing Osama bin Laden.
    > But school officials wouldn't allow Sierra to criticize the
    > American government or express her statements for peace. "You
    > can't allow one kind of speech and not allow others," said
    > Johnston, now a lawyer in New York.
    > It doesn't make a difference, he said, that Tinker's armbands were
    > "symbolic speech" and Sierra's T-shirts spouted written messages.
    > "If the purpose is to convey a message, then it's speech," he
    > said.
    > Tinker said Sissonville administrators kicked Sierra out of school
    > because they didn't like her views. That's wrong, he said.
    > "It's the issue of the importance of protecting the unpopular
    > view," Tinker said. "That's what makes the First Amendment what it
    > is. Otherwise it would just be meaningless."

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