A Colorado teenager whose yearbook picture was rejected for being too revealing is vowing to fight the ban with her high school’s administration, but the editors of the yearbook insist it was their decision alone on the photo.
This is admirable; for some unknown reason Sydney Spies does not want to deal with the editorial staff, or her peers, regarding the matter. One can only wonder into the plethora of reasons why. However, for the editorial board to think that the decision is theirs to make is really not too realistic. In public education the final say will always be done by the administration.
The five student editors of the Durango High School yearbook in Durango, Col., told the Durango Herald they were the ones who made the call not to publish a picture of senior Sydney Spies posing in a short yellow skirt midriff and shoulder-exposing black shawl as her senior portrait.
“We are an award-winning yearbook. We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional,” student Brian Jaramillo told the paper on Thursday. (This notion gets beat up in the end of the article.)
Spies was joined by her mother, Miki Spies, and a handful of fellow Durango High students and alumni in a protest outside the school Wednesday after, she said, administrators informed her the photo would not be permitted because it violated dress code.
We take issue with this particular point; it is certainly one matter to say “it’s in violation of the dress code…” however, having the dress code on hand would assuredly bolster their argument.
“I feel like they aren’t allowing me to have my freedom of expression,” Spies told the Herald. ”I think the administration is wrong in this situation, and I don’t want this to happen to other people.”
We do a lot of writing on the entire notion on Freedom of Speech, in fact, all of the issues contained within the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Sydney Spies is claiming that her freedom of expression is being abridged; it is far better to tell a newspaper journalist than to either tell it to a sitting judge or an attorney if she plans on retaining one.
Our first question would be the most obvious: “What exactly are you trying to express?” There is nothing at all with wanting to share your freedom of expression with anyone who will listen or look. However as we shall see is the notion of the appropriateness of the expression.
Short case to kick start the brain; furthermore, a lively one at that. An Austrian journalist, Peter Michael Lingens, had written articles charging a politician with the “basest opportunism.” The politician sued for libel and the Austrian courts awarded him damages. Lingens went to the European Court of Human Rights, which found that the libel judgment against him violated the Convention on Human Rights – its clause guaranteeing freedom of expression.
That freedom the court said, “constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society…It is applicable not only to information, or ideas that are favorably received or regarded as inoffensive…but also those that offend, shock, or disturb.
These are the demands of the pluralism, tolerance, and broad mindedness without such there is no ‘democratic society.’ In other words, “freedom for the thought that we hate…” according to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The next position taken by the editorial staff of the yearbook, would just about qualify one as double-trouble. They also offered her an opportunity to include the photo in the yearbook, just not as her senior photo. “If she (Spies) chooses to, the picture will run as her senior ad, not her senior portrait,” Jaramillo said.
There is indeed an idiosyncrasy or glaring oxymoron as we see it. Regardless of dress code or any other short-sidedness what Jaramillo is ostensibly saying is we would be glad to use your photo to make money and perhaps bolster our yearbook sales in the Senior Ad Section, but we will not use it in the Senior Portraits Section. (So what is it going to be?)
As we indicated earlier the administration will invariably have the final say. “The editors of Durango High School’s yearbook informed a senior student in December that her photo in question would not be included as a senior portrait in the yearbook and asked her to submit a replacement. Durango School District 9-R’s administration supports this decision.”