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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: NRA T-shirt and the First Amendment

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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The 14-year-old West Virginia student who was arrested in April after refusing to remove his National Rifle Association T-shirt was formally charged with obstructing an officer last week and could face up to a year in jail. Jared Marcum, then an eighth-grader at Logan Middle School in Logan, W.Va., got into an argument in late April with his teacher, who requested that the youth remove an NRA T-shirt that featured the image of a rifle and the "Protect Your Right" slogan. The Logan County School District prohibits clothing with profanity, violence or discriminatory messages, but does not mention gun images.

When Jared objected, the police were called, and he was arrested for obstructing an officer and disrupting the educational process. He returned to school the next week in the same T-shirt to make a point, and other students reportedly wore similar shirts as a showing of solidarity.

Now, Jared faces a $500 fine and a maximum of one year in jail. Every aspect of this is just totally wrong. If this poor kid goes to jail for a year our system just created a criminal for life. Go after the gang members in Chicago and Camden, N.J., instead. Stop going after these poor kids for something their liberal teachers don't believe in. These teachers need to stick to teaching, not pushing their political views onto our children. All this kid did was exercise his First Amendment rights.

MARK GRABOWSKI

Clark, N.J.

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