Dobbs falsely suggested Colorado, California schools banned only American flagsApril 6, 2006 8:05 PM EDT ››› ROB MORLINO
On the April 5 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Dobbs falsely suggested that a Westminster, Colorado, middle school's ban on flags -- in the wake of protests at the school over proposed immigration reform legislation -- applied only to the American flag. In fact, the ban -- criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- encompassed clothing depicting all flags and other "patriotic" symbols, and was not limited to American flags. Further, Dobbs reported that the principal of the school "says students wearing the American flag are using the flag to antagonize Mexican students." In fact, Shaw Heights Middle School principal Myla Shepherd instituted a ban on any clothing, flag, and banners intended to make a political statement, because, she told The Denver Post, students at the school were using both American and Mexican flags to "taunt" each other. "The Mexican flag, the U.S. flag, were no longer representing pride in where we're from," Shepherd told the newspaper, "but started to be used as symbols of negativity and racism."
Dobbs also said on the April 5 program that Oceanside Unified School District in California "ban[ned] flags and patriotic symbols," and then quoted a California State Senator Bill Morrow's claim that the school district "ban[ned] the wearing of American flags"; on the April 4 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs himself asserted that Oceanside "is banning American flags on campus." In fact, both the Mexican and American flags are prohibited in that school district, as a report that aired on the April 4 program indicated. In that report, by San Diego TV station KGTV, Oceanside superintendent Ken Noonan said: "Well, someone would wave the Mexican flag and then someone else would wave an American flag, almost as if they were using the flags as emotional weapons with each other, and we think, you know, that's not appropriate for either flag, for the flag to be used as a weapon."
As Dobbs noted during the April 4 program, the ACLU has criticized the clothing bans at Shaw Heights and Oceanside. ACLU spokesman Kevin Neenan told a San Diego TV station: "The school has to be able to show a strong likelihood that there is going to [be] material and substantial disruption of school, and if they don't meet that standard, then they can't censor student speech."
From the April 5 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS: In Colorado tonight, yet another school is forbidding its students from showing their support for the American flag and their opposition to the illegal alien amnesty agenda. The Shaw Heights Middle School in Adams County, Colorado, has changed its dress code to ban any piece of clothing deemed patriotic. Even camouflage pants have been banned. The principal says students wearing the American flag are using the flag to antagonize Mexican students. Students say the ban is simply outrageous.
STUDENT 1 [video clip]: I think it's ironic, because it's USA, first of all, it's United States of America. And our colors are red, white and blue. And there's flags in this school already in those colors, and we can't even wear the colors.
STUDENT 2 [video clip]: Freedom of speech. I should be able to wear what I want, my First Amendment.
DOBBS: Also tonight, outrage building after a decision by California's Oceanside school district to ban flags and patriotic symbols in class there. As we reported last night, Oceanside officials took the step after large demonstrations last week in favor of illegal alien rights. Tonight, California state senator Bill Morrow says Oceanside must reverse its decision. The senator saying, "The decision to ban the wearing of American flags in order to achieve safety is terribly misguided. There's something very unfair when kids from any city in any state in this nation are prevented from displaying the stars and stripes." Senator Morrow says that it is incredible that students from Oceanside who have parents serving in Iraq cannot display the flag that their loved ones are fighting for overseas. The senator could not be more correct.
DOBBS: And in Southern California, the Oceanside School District is banning American flags on campus after last week's illegal alien protests and demonstrations there. Tina Azedin (ph), from our affiliate KGTV, with the report.
[begin video clip]
AZEDIN: For student protesters who carried a flag, it was a matter of pride. For police and the district, it was a problem.
KEN NOONAN (Oceanside school superintendent): Well, someone would wave the Mexican flag and then someone else would wave an American flag, almost as if they were using the flags as emotional weapons with each other, and we think, you know, that's not appropriate for either flag, for the flag to be used as a weapon. That's almost a form of desecration.
AZEDIN: Now, the Oceanside School District is sending this letter to parents, stating, no student may bring or wear disruptive clothing, face paint, signs, placards, or flags. Claiming they were contributing factors to last week's disruptive behavior.
ROXANNE GUZMAN (student): It's bringing a lot of tension between the students.
AZEDIN: Sixty-hundred and fifty students skipped school last Tuesday and Wednesday in Oceanside to protest.
EDWARD JOHNSON (student): I went out to protest against the bill that -- that was introduced in the House.
AZEDIN: Here's what happened.
JOHNSON: I got suspended for five days.
AZEDIN: Students will be suspended again if they bring flags to school now.
GUZMAN: I think that's a good idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should be able to bring a flag to school, as long as you're not doing nothing bad with it.
AZEDIN: Behind these walls, the district stands behind the state education code, which puts limits on free speech.
NOONAN: But the whole idea is that students don't need to be waving signs, don't need to be waving flags on the campus. They need to be in class.
[end video clip]
DOBBS: And reporting, Tina Azedin of our affiliate KGTV. The issue of wearing flags is one being taken up buy the American Civil Liberties Union, supporting those students who would wish to demonstrate their views by wearing an American flag or taking an American flag and holding it high wherever they choose.