Knight moves

Among the threats to our schools, attacks by medieval knights do not loom large. But these are nervous times.

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. – Seventeen-year-old Patrick Agin often spends a week whittling a single arrow, and he’s learning to make chain mail armor by hand. So when it came time to submit a senior yearbook photo, he selected a snapshot of himself wearing chain mail and slinging a prop sword over his shoulder.

Portsmouth High School rejected the photo, citing a “zero tolerance policy” for weapons, and Agin and his family sued, claiming the school was violating his right to free speech.

Agin belongs to the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is very cool.

I sincerely doubt that students have a free-speech right to the yearbook photo of their choice. But you’d think a school whose patriot mascot carries a rifle could tolerate a photo of a student dressed as a historical figure.

About Joanne


  1. wayne martin says:

    I agree with the School, although for somewhat different reasons. The argument about “no weapons” is pretty lame. The arguments about the yearbook not being a vehicle for individuals to “send a message” or to “proclaim a hobby” are better. What’s probably needed is a written policy about what the goal of the Year Book is, and outlining the parameters that acceptable submissions for pictures will be. Submissions would be voluntary, and subject to review and rejection for failure to meet publication standards.

    Year Books have a lot of uses, so it’s a reasonable goal to have a publication that doesn’t look like graffiti artists gone wild were responsible for the publication. A couple of years ago at a High School reunion I attended the Year Book pictures were used to adorn the name tags. It had been twenty years between Reunions, and many had not seen any of their classmates since graduation. Being able to recognize them from their pictures was very helpful, since names sometimes can be forgotten. It was very helpful to have presentable pictures of our Class in our Year Book for this occasion.

    In this day and age, the School could deal with this issue of allowing students to submit a “personal statement” picture by accepting digital pictures and cutting a DVD to slip into the Year Book (perhaps having the book assembled with a sleeve for that purpose). The Year Book Committee would accept 1-n pictures from students who wanted additional “exposure” via additional pictures, audio tracks, and possibly even video tracks. Blu-Ray and HD DVD offer 25Gb capacities this year, and soon (we are told) we will see 100 GB DVD formats (and more downstream). This practice would add only the cost of a DVD disc, and a little time to cut the discs and label them, to the cost of the Year Book. It’s even possible that Year Books will be issued on DVD in the future, anyway.

  2. The SCA is very cool indeed, but I do remember the Medieval History professor who asked how many members of the class were SCA members. When no one raised a hand, she said, “Oh, thank God.” Remembering the monomania of some friends in the SCA, I understand why.

  3. sorry, but the SCA is the definition of dorky. it might be fun, it might be worthwhile, but it’s not cool if you are over 12.

  4. It’s not a weapon, it’s a photo of a weapon, and thus harmless. Frankly a photo of an assault rifle is equally harmless, but more disturbing. Doesn’t the head of the school have anything more pressing to do?

  5. Catch Thirty Thr33 says:

    If a high school yearbook is not the place for individual expression, then perhaps one can explain to me the practice of selling pages to seniors to do with as they wished (with which they put together collages of themselves and their friends, and so on)?
    For my senior year, we all had to wear the same tacky attire for the picture, and a massive production was made of it. Did we have, for instance, the picture taken at the school? Of course not, that would have been convenient. We instead had to get our pictures taken at a studio across town at a setting which took hours to get done. Total silliness.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if things like ACADEMICS were focused on instead of silliness like this?

  6. Catch Thirty Thr33 wrote:

    If a high school yearbook is not the place for individual expression, then perhaps one can explain to me the practice of selling pages to seniors to do with as they wished…

    Conceit and cowardice are not uniformly distributed amongst the population.

    There are brave, thoughtful, generous, competent school administrators but the system is biased against them. It provides no incentive or encouragement for the exercise of these qualities and sometimes punishes them. Politically adroit administrators are more valuable then courageous, ruthlessly education-oriented administrators. So the former ascend and the latter doesn’t.

    There’s you explanation.

  7. Hey, dorky and cool are frequently synonyms, at least for us nerds.

  8. I’ll bet greifer doesn’t appreciate D&D either