A very good friend of mine, who happens to be a high school senior, a 4.0 student, a high scorer on the SAT, a champion wrestler, and an excellent person, was sent to his public high school’s vice-principal recently for having his baseball cap on backwards.*
*In fact the school has no written rule that it is forbidden to wear caps backwards, but such a practice is seen as failing” to wear appropriate clothing.” (This is a rural area and the policy is not gang-related.)
a. There is a written statement of philosophy in the student handbook that reads that the school is supportive of each student and values diversity.b
b. Interestingly, besides the oral tradition of the hat rule, there is also an unwritten school rule that the female students must wear bras. Such garments are not only seen as “appropriate,” but mandatory as well.c
c. Yes, I am writing this in 1998, not 1968.d
d. The ’60s in America featured the reaction of the Age of Aquarius to the “I Like Ike” generation.e
e. The “I Like Ike” generation tended to believe the Socratic dictum, ” After all, isn’t a town greater than a man?” f
f. His is somewhat ironic in that the”I Like Ike” generation was vociferously against totalitarianism, whether it was Fascism or Communism.g
g. Curiously, Karl Marx believed communism could work, however, his ideas were subverted by Lenin’s idea that such a state would be a long way off, so meantime there would need to be a “vanguard of the proletariat.”h
h. Some vice-principals also tend to believe that adolescents will eventually become good, but in the meantime there needs to be a prince, a leviathan, and a vanguard of the proletariat to keep adolescents in check until that distant time.i
i. Incidentally, one particular teacher at that same school, someone who is actually a good friend of mine, once told me that he was a Nazi in the classroom so kids would appreciate democracy after they graduated.
j. Democracy is an experimental form of government that tends to believe (with Emerson) that a man is greater than a town.
k. Emerson emphasized, “self-reliance” (and presumably that the individual would know what the most appropriate way to wear a baseball cap might be).
l. Baseball, which was not invented by Abner Doubleday but has been known as the national pastime, if celebrates the individual’s contributions to a team effort.
m. More recently, American football has been considered the national pastime.n
n. Except maybe with the exception of quarterbacks and Neon Deion Sanders, football people, especially football coaches,o believe that the team is more important than the individual.
O. Many baseball managers who make about $200,000 a year believe this, too, and try to convince players like Cleveland Indians [sic] power hitter Albert BelleP of this. Belle does not talk to the press, and probably not his manager either.
P. Presumably Albert Belle believes the individual is greater than a town;q perhaps it is hubris on his part.
q. Probably Ken Griffey Jr.r feels the same way as Belle, but with so many endorsements at stake, emphasizes the team in his proclamations to the press.
r. Coincidentally, if not ironically, Ken Griffey Jr., probably the best player in the game today, despite what Bobby Bonds says, is often photographed wearing his baseball cap backwards.
s. Ken Griffey Jr. is a role mo~el for America’s youth; in fact, his picture is on the Wheatiest box in front of me as I write this footnote.
t. What’s good for General Mills is good for America.U
u. Ergo, wearing your hat backwards is good for America.
v. So, why does the vice-principal think Mario should not wear his baseball cap backwards?
w. The vice-principal apparently thinks Mario should just do as he is told because, after all, isn’t a town greater than a man?
x. In fact the vice-principal has more in common with Machiavelli, who believes that the worse crime is the unpunished crime, and it may be that miscreants should be tortured and/or killed.
y. Mario has in fact been taught to question authority, not to disrespect it.
z. Mario also believes a man is greater than a town.