From the Daily Breeze:
"Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Davis said school and district officials stand behind the suspension. 'There's always consequences for actions," Davis said. "We believe it disrupted homecoming activities ..." (It would be interesting to know if the Unified School District knows that George Washington refused the offer of the Contintental Congress to be the first American King.)
"Suspension papers signed by Griffiths and the school principal charged that the 17-year-old Griffiths 'disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.' Other offenses that warrant suspension include gun possession, drug use, theft or destruction of school property, and physical violence."
"Griffiths was a member of one of the six couples who lined up with their parents during halftime of last Friday's football game to hear the royal announcements. When his name was called as homecoming king, he placed his crown on the field and walked away. He later said he had planned all along to make some sort of statement about the warped value system in schools like his (Mira Costa High School) if he was elected king, but he never dreamed he would win. 'The idea of winning was so far-fetched,' he said. 'I knew I'd have a fair amount of support from the downtrodden, my friends. I'm just trying to get more people to think about and re-evaluate what we value and if [contests like] homecoming should be encouraged.'" says the Daily Breeze story.
He returned to school this week. His parents are considering legal action to force the school to expunge the suspension from his academic record. Griffiths isn't a classic victim. He was definitely poking the bear, but in a good cause. He said he welcomed any and all media attention because he wants to use the spotlight to encourage people to think about the way schools promote popularity contests and pit students against one another. "They martyred me," he said. "Which was a great thing."
Instead of a suspension, Griffiths ought to get an award for challenging the insane culture facing so many individualistic kids in American schools. Students like Griffiths have few if any Constitutional rights. They have no privacy or right to due process, and are routinely sent home, suspended, or forced into "special education" programs for dressing oddly, speaking honestly, or playing the wrong kind of computer games. As he was trying to point out, the pressure to conform, be normal and popular is enormous -- creating environments that are hostile and alienating to people outside the mainstream. This ethos has hit bright, idiosyncratic and creative kids especially hard, as the volumes of Hellmouth messages testify so eloquently.
So here's to Patrick Griffiths, who deserves better than his own school. He's a hero in the classic American sense, and in the country's best traditions of thinking freely, daring to be different, and willing to pay the price.
Author's Note: The source material for this column was the Daily Breeze paper linked to above, a wire story, and about 20 e-mails, including two from local reporters urgingme to write about this. Reading over this now I can see there is a paragraph that should have quotes from the Daily Breeze [note: since corrected -- t]. I didn't do it because I probably used material from the wire story and/or because it was linked. The comments, opinions and language about the story are obviously mine, since the point was to write about the issues he raised and the conformity question, which the paper and the others didn't raise.