Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Papist gangs of Nebraska

The story:
Students at a public school in Fremont, Nebraska, have been told they can't wear a rosary to school because it's also considered a gang symbol.

Elizabeth Carey, 12, told Omaha television station KETV her elementary school adopted the policy last year.

"The principal said I couldn't wear my necklace at all because gangsters were wearing it," she said.

Superintendent Steve Sexton told the television station the policy is for student safety.

"We had information from law enforcement that there were documented instances of gang activity in the area and we had information that states that the rosary was being used as a symbol of gang affiliation," Sexton said.

But the move has raised the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska....
Here's the ACLU-Nebraska press release, "That gang of nuns looks pretty dangerous":
...Amy Miller, ACLU Nebraska Legal Director, said "Students have the right to express their faith in public schools. Whether a student wants to wear a crucifix, a rosary, or another symbol, it is wrong for school officials to interfere. We understand the serious concerns about gangs in schools, but Fremont Public School should demonstrate there is a concrete gang connection before shutting down a student’s free speech and religious rights. ACLU Nebraska has and will continue to support the constitutional rights of religious people”...*
I agree that this is a real issue and fully support the kid's right to wear a crucifix to school, but I can't help but find this funny. A girl is prohibited from wearing a crucifix to school because of its alleged association with gang activity. In an elementary school. In Fremont, Nebraska. It's funny.

...Hmm... Perhaps I'm primed by the segment about Al Smith's presidential campaign in Prohibition last night, but could it actually be anti-Catholic bigotry? I'm not finding anything about the town's religious make-up, but Wikipedia did offer "Fremont gained national attention in 2010 when residents approved a referendum that would ban illegal immigrants from renting and working in the town." (Here's the article at the WP link.) So there appears to be strong anti-Hispanic sentiment which could be behind this, and a recent history with the ACLU... Hmm...

*They should of course support the constitutional rights of nonreligious people as well.

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