I Can Breathe – But Mendocino High School Can’t

Yes, I can breathe, because I am not a lazy out of work, overweight asthmatic with a heart condition (and probably a half a dozen other ailments), selling “loosie” cigarettes to bums on a street corner for couple of bucks.

And let’s not forget that Eric Garner had been told several times previous by police not to sell his individual cigarettes and that the police were dispatched due to complaints by local businesses.

Now all that aside, as others and I have said – he didn’t deserve to die for that rather petty crime, but the continued uproar over it is both absurd and artificial.

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What statements are LeBron James and Kobe Bryant (or the entire Georgetown University basketball team) trying to make by perpetuating this thing – other than continued racial division. I can guarantee if Garner had been white, neither player would be worried if this perp could breathe or not. So who are the real racists?

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I frankly would’ve thought that this Garner incident would have run its course, but then I read that an entire California high school basketball team was permitted to wear “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warm-ups prior to a tournament at Fort Bragg high school.

The Daily Mail reported that “The players from Mendocino high school had been told that they would not be able to wear the T-shirts in memory of Eric Garner by officials at the Fort Bragg school district. But the decision was reversed on Monday, and high school players will be allowed to wear the shirts during warm-ups as long as they do not cause problems, lawyers said.”

Ah lawyers. I should have known. “Karen Boyd, a first Amendment lawyer who represented one of the players, said the reversal by the Fort Bragg school district came just moments before she intended to file a federal court motion,” writes Belinda Robinson.

So this is how it goes in the new American litigious society we live in. And this is what we wish to teach our children. If there is a rule or a law you don’t like – don’t bother trying to get the rule changed. Just find some slip-and-fall lawyer (hat tip Mark Levin) to threaten to take them to court and voilà – usurpation of the rule. Easy as that! Great lesson.

Attorney Boyd said she intended to argue that barring the shirts violated the student’s free speech rights.

Robinson writes that “School district lawyer Patrick Wilson said Fort Bragg officials had changed their decision because they wanted to avoid the cost of a legal battle,” but “they were also concerned the shirts could cause disruption in the community…”

Now you would think that, like every other school in the country, this school has a student dress code, and you’d be right. And being that the students are at a school function representing Mendocino high school, naturally the dress code would apply.

Well, let’s see what the Mendocino dress code includes – or rather excludes.

Taken directly from the school’s student parent handbook, the following items are prohibited. There’s the typical “Clothing with alcohol, tobacco or controlled substance advertisements or references – Clothing displaying vulgar writing, symbols, or sexual references – Clothing that is identified as gang-related (E.C. 35183).”

And then there’s this: “Students with inappropriate dress will be required to change into appropriate clothing or be suspended for disrupting school activities.”

Didn’t the school district attorney say that was exactly what they feared? Why yes, it was. What’s the old saying? Err on the side of caution… unless you’re under threat of lawsuit.

Now what if a disruption had occurred? What if a fight broke out because of this display? What if someone was injured or worse? Who do we think would be held to account? The idiot kids wearing the shirts? The “first Amendment lawyer,” Ms. Boyd? Heck no!

The school would be forced to take the blame, and somebody would probably end up suing the school, claiming they didn’t do enough to prevent the disruption.


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