LOGAN, W. Va. – A West Virginia eighth-grader who repeatedly refused to remove his National Rifle Association t-shirt at school faces a potential year in prison for a criminal charge of obstructing a police officer.
Jared Marcum in April refused a Logan Middle School teacher’s demand to remove his NRA t-shirt – which also depicted a hunting rifle – and was sent to the principal’s office, where he again refused and eventually was arrested by police, according to media reports.
Last week he was officially arraigned on a single count of obstructing an officer, which carries a potential sentence of up to a year in prison and a $500 fine, WTRF.com reports.
Logan City Police Officer James Adkins contends Marcum refused to stop talking before he was arrested, which “obstructed” his job. Marcum’s father, Allen Lardieri, told the television station he believes the case “should have never gotten this far.”
“Every aspect of this is just totally wrong,” Lardieri said. “He has no background of anything criminal, up until now and it just seems like nobody wants to admit they’re wrong.”
Marcum’s attorney, Ben White, agreed.
“In my view of the facts, Jared didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “I think Officer Adkins could have done something differently.”
White is working to get the charge dismissed, he told WTRF.
Marcum is scheduled for his next court appearance July 11 if his attorney can’t secure an agreement with prosecutors by then, according to the National Review.
The whole situation seems more than a little bit ridiculous, and we fault the school’s overly sensitive administrators for not finding a more appropriate resolution. If the school district’s mission is to educate all students, it seems counterproductive to put those students in prison, especially for such a minor infraction, if there was an actual infraction at all.
It wasn’t too long ago that public schools across the country ran their own shooting ranges, and encouraged students to practice their marksmanship and proper weapon handling. The right to bear arms is a fundamental freedom in America. So is the freedom of expression.
We believe this situation serves as a sad indictment of some public school officials who have disregarded the importance of personal rights in favor of politically correct policies.
Our hope is Marcum’s attorney can negotiate a plea bargain or other arrangement to keep the incident from becoming part of the student’s permanent record, or that a judge will recognize the facts of the case don’t support the accusations.
We also hope school officials across the nation will wake up and recognize that students are citizens with First Amendment rights, and must be allowed to express their opinions within the boundaries of good taste.
Some liberal educators may find the NRA in bad taste, but millions of Americans have the same opinion of liberal educators.
It’s all a matter of personal opinion, and we all have a right to it. That’s why this situation should never have become a situation in the first place.
By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org