Pistol-packing high school mascot under the gun after Twitter complaint

Pistol-packing high school mascot under the gun after Twitter complaint
ajuprasetyo / Pixabay

Massachusetts has a long and storied history with firearms, despite its current status as one of the most Second Amendment-hostile states in the country. From the Minutemen of the War of Independence to the dozens of firearm manufacturers that set up shop in what became known as Gun Valley in the 19th century, guns have played an important role in the state over the centuries.

Of course most of those gun makers have either left the state or are looking at their exit strategies, and if the Minutemen were around today I’m sure that Democrats in the state would have already passed laws aimed squarely at preventing them from carrying their rifles in public… or perhaps even owning them at all. The hostility towards guns and gun ownership in Massachusetts is real, and it’s reaching new heights of absurdity in the city of Worcester, where a local high school mascot may end getting the axe because of his pistol-toting ways.

The mascot in question belongs to the South Hill Community High School, where the school’s athletic teams are known as the Colonels. After the logo featuring the colonel posed with his guns in the air appeared on a sign in a garden on campus meant to honor graduates who have since died, a Karen voiced her displeasure at the wanton display of a Yosemite Sam knockoff with pistols in his hand.

Karen Pelletier, Vice President at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, tweeted on Aug. 19 that she was “very disappointed to see the guns plaque resurrected.”

“It is literally in a garden that is called ‘living garden for our deceased classmates’ … It’s worse to know this was saved for years and carefully housed here. I’m speechless,” she tweeted.

The school’s mascot is still the Colonel, WPS Deputy Superintendent Brian E. Allen told MassLive in an email, the same logo that is featured on the sign that was donated by the class of 2005 is the logo for the school’s mascot to this day.

“We intend to assist the school in leading a wide range of school-based stakeholders’ input on the school’s mascot and/or logo in the future,” Allen said. “We are also researching any administrative or policy changes that would be involved with any change, as needed.”

Yep, you read that right. This isn’t even a new marker that disappointed Pelletier so much. It’s been around for 17 years, but apparently it hasn’t been on display for while.

It also apparently hasn’t been a big issue, since the deputy superintendent says that the district has “not received any direct communication from community members” about the plaque. Instead, they’re responding to one complaint on Twitter; a complaint that, frankly, received more criticism than support from other social media users.

There were only a handful of comments agreeing with Pelletier that the “guns plaque” is problematic, and one of them hinted that the real change necessary at the high school involves its dress code.

Really? Because if that’s the case then the school district is just asking for a lawsuit. As long as the shirt in question isn’t promoting violence or any illegal activity, I’d argue it’s protected speech under the First Amendment.

However, I don’t think that Twitter user is right, unless there’s been a change in policy in the last couple of years. This year’s dress code isn’t yet available to view online, but the dress code in place for the 2019-2020 school year makes no mention about firearms in its list of forbidden graphics.

Students’ clothing shall not disrupt or distract from the school’s educational process. While in school, students will wear clothing that meets the following standards:

No hats, bandanas, scarves or headwear that cover full head unless for religious or medical reasons

No bare backs/low cut shirts (must be able to tuck in shirt)

No bare feet, or unsafe footwear

No clothing that uses see-through material or displays words (in whatever language) / graphics that are obscene or vulgar, violent, sexist, racist and/or promote the use of illegal drugs/alcohol/tobacco.

No gang-, violence- or cult-related apparel (refer to Rule 15, policy on gang and obscene clothing)

No droopy pants or clothing that reveals undergarments; the length of shorts and skirts must measure to at least mid-thigh length

No outerwear to be worn in school buildings. Example: jackets/parkas/ windbreakers

Students may wear hooded sweatshirts or shirts but may not wear the hoods up or covering their heads or faces in the building or on school property

No ear buds or headphones may be worn or used except with permission of school personnel

I almost hate to bring that up in case it inspires an army of Karens to not only target the high school mascot but demand changes to the district’s dress code as well.

Karen Pelletier is certainly entitled to share her opinion about the school mascot or the placement of a plaque with its image, but that doesn’t mean that the district needed to jump at the opportunity to immediately launch an effort to see about replacing the mascot or disarming the colonel of his sidearms. That, to me anyway, is the bigger issue here, and I hope that South Hill students and alumni will push back against this silly crusade against a cartoon character’s guns. If the school district wants to pay some attention to the high school, I’d start with its declining test scores and leave its armed mascot alone.