The school sent him to “the cubicle.” Now, he’s taking the principal to court.
A Wisconsin teenager exercising his First Amendment right to support Second Amendment freedoms found himself in a boatload of trouble earlier this month with a school principal who didn’t appreciate the boy’s T-shirt.
In an era when public schools are openly supporting students who walk out of classes to protest what the Constitution protects, it seems some rights are more equal than others.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Markesan High School freshman Matthew Schoenecker has been wearing shirts sporting weapons-related messages since the beginning of the school year.
One, proclaiming “celebrate diversity,” features and assortment of firearms – a diverse collection of handguns and rifles.
Another has the word “LOVE” written in letters formed by a handgun, grenade, knives and a rifle.
Normal people might find the shirts clever, if not laugh-out-loud funny. But according to WISN-TV, when Matthew wore the “LOVE” T-shirt to school, Principal John Koopman was not amused.
To be clear, the boy had been wearing the weapons-themed shirts to school all year. Nick Clark, president of the gun-rights group Wisconsin Carry, told the Journal-Sentinel the shirts did not become an issue until after February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Last month, Koopman met with Matthew and his parents, Brian and Pam Schoenecker, to tell them that even though there was no set-in-stone policy against students wearing clothing that contained images of guns, he was using his discretion as principal to forbid Matthew from wearing his.
If the boy wore one of the shirts again, he would have the choice of changing, covering it, or turning it inside out. If he refused, he was going to “the cubicle,” a tiny, confined space where he would not see other students or get any kind of schooling.
On April 6, Matthew decided to push the matter. He ended up in the cubicle.
But the family isn’t being pushed around easily.
“It was his choice, whether he wears it or not,” Brian Schoenecker told WISN. “He decided, ‘I’m gonna wear this. It’s my right.’ When I heard about it, I was a little upset of course, and said, ‘We got to get down there and see what’s going on.’”
What’s going on is that Matthew Schoenecker and Wisconsin Carry have filed a lawsuit in federal court naming Koopman as the defendant and alleging his freedom of expression had been violated. The suit seeks a court order guaranteeing the teen can wear the shirts, as well as the cost of bringing the case in the first place.
Clark, the Wisconsin Carry president, said Koopman’s actions highlighted the blatant bias against gun-rights supporters in the nation’s public schools.
“Schools literally facilitated anti-gun protests, but they’re not going to let this kid wear a shirt?” he told the Journal-Sentinel.
Interestingly, it’s not just the pro-gun side that thinks the school is wrong here. According to WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth, Tom Deininger, the artist who designed the “LOVE”-with-weapons image, thinks Schoenecker should be allowed to wear the shirt.
At the same time, Deininger is in favor of more gun control.
“I have strong feelings on gun control — but I support freedom,” he told WFAA. “People should be able to wear whatever they want.”
That’s what real tolerance sounds like.
In a country where anti-gun hysteria has been whipped up around the senseless slaughter in Florida, and where teenagers are — aided and abetted by the media — are becoming celebrities by trying to take away Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to bear arms, public schools are the last places to look for a real defense of the work of the Founding Fathers.
Because to today’s liberals, some rights really are more equal than others.
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