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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hair Crusade!

I am forty years old, an American Citizen and a Father to two boys.
I am also a Man who prefers his hair to be long....contrary to the Norms of the Society I find myself in.
This Manifesto is a sort of "heads up" to you, that this Will be an issue in the my Boys are already making noises about wanting longer hair, "Like Daddy".
I Will Not Cut my Hair to support your Policy, as it would do injury to my Self Esteem, as well as my Integrity.
Non Serviam.
I have endured hardship for most of my life because of this, and would like to appeal to you that this injustice not be continued for another generation.
Schools, in past court cases, rely on certain assertions to justify their intolerance of longer hair on boys.(These are taken, verbatim, from the Amicus Curie provided to the Court by TASB, in the Needville Case)
1. To teach hygiene.
2.To instill discipline.
3. To prevent Disruption.
4. To avoid safety hazards.
and 5. To assert authority.

I will now stick an Arrow in each.

1. "To teach hygiene".
Logically, this falls flat...are not most girls encouraged,by societal Norms, to maintain long hair?
Are they, thereby, Dirty?
There is nothing inherently "dirty" about long hair.
There's this product one can purchase, called "Shampoo" cleans one's hair.
Morally, this smacks of Discrimination.
Women fought for, and won, the right to wear pants...which were, historically, the attire of men.
How,exactly, is this different?

2."To instill discipline."
I think that this has more to do with #5, than with any wish to "instill discipline,"..depending on the definition of "Discipline".
If we mean, "Punishment", then, yes...perhaps...although I can't think of any crime that could have been comitted.
Original Sin?

On the other hand, it takes discipline to maintain long hair.
One must spend a lot more time brushing, and detangling with long, than with short.
One must also learn how to keep it out of the way, for instance, when preparing food, or working with machinery.
"Discipline" must here be read as "Submission".

3.. "Prevent disruption".
In my own experience, quantifiably more disruption is caused by the enforcement of such policies, than they prevent.
It's not 1950, anymore. The court case referred to as Ferrel, 1968, had to do with some male students being barred from class due to their "Beatles-style haircuts".. The time when such things could reasonably be considered "disruptive" is long past.Hairstyles accepted, in the broader Society, have changed...many times. Indeed, the "High and Tight" that so many School Policies seem to be aiming towards, could be seen as more anomalous.

4."To avoid safety hazards".
I presume that this is referring to the above mentioned machinery problem.
Again, there is a simple solution, in the form of a readily available product, called a "Hair Tie".
I use these all the time, when working with things that might entangle my hair...or when preparing food.
And, again, if a girl were to enroll in shop-class, would she be required to cut her hair?
If not, then this is Discriminatory.

5."To Assert Authority."
Here we get to the Meat of the matter.
I assert that this is the real reason behind the rules regarding boys and long hair.
In loco Parentis, gone too far.
In my experience, the Administration is interested in maintaining it's own matter the facts, and no matter the real-world consequences.At it's root, I suspect that there is a longing for "Simpler Times"...a Fear of all the "disruptions" of the 60's , and onward.
My own experience involved being forcibly carried, and held down, my senior year, so that a "Cosmetology Student" could shear me.
All manner of Logical Fallacies were employed to justify this behaviour.
What it ended up doing, however, was reinforcing my distrust, and dislike, of Authority....and causing much more of a Scene, than I had ever courted.
They could give me no reason for this rule that didn't rely on, essentially,"Because we say so".
The heart of my argument against such rules, is that this is Unamerican.
Arbitrary Authority is to be Challenged.
I can hear the refutations bubbling..."but they're children!".
To that I say BS.
What are we really teaching with this policy?
To Submit to Arbitrary Authority?
Authority that can be asserted without any Reason or Logical Support?
To single out a child because of his failure to conform to an arbitrary "Norm" , when that child has done nothing to harm anyone, is simply wrong.
It cannot be justified.
Raj Singh, of Valparaiso University (re:below) said, "
1. A man's reasons for abstemtion from haircutting practices all relate to his assertion, intended consciously or subconsciously, that he is not the servant of other men.
2.When people in positions of (non-religious) authority demand that a man cut his hair or shave his face, their purpose is to require the clipped man to openly demonstrate his obedience and subservience to them."
The many court cases over the last 50 years regarding this matter have all relied on the above enumerated "reasoning".
They have consitently held that the school's interest is served by discipline and authority.
I assert that thge policy has the opposite effect than that which was intended.
I am the evidence for this assertion.
"Styles" of the wearing of hair have changed, over millennia.
Are we to remain stuck in time, on this one issue?
I assert that is not the business of Government to dictate the style or appearance of the People, whether they be 4 or 40.

I was born with Large Ears...the kind that stick out from one's head, like Wings.
Children are Cruel...Dumbo...Fly Away....
I was tormented, as a child, due to my ears...they were pulled and tugged till they were red and painful...
I started wearing a baseball cap in around 3rd grade...specifically to cover my ears.
Of course, hats of any sort are forbidden in school...and are looked down the nose at indoors, even as an adult...(like in Court.)
So, early on, I started resisting haircuts.
Joe the Barber, in Tomball, would always trim me so that my ears got maximum spread and visibility.
This "need" for longer hair was an unconscious response to the treatment my ears engendered.
Rather than deal with the treatment, the PTB (teachers, parents, etc) focussed on my hair.
At the same time, my Genius was asserting itself...(likely the Real Reason that my "peers" tormented me...).
With Genius comes realisation of Anomalousness....and Rebellion follows.
As I got older, my hair would get longer would I walk, as to the Gallows, to the barber Chair....I had to be forced.
Freshman year is when I really asserted myself.
I was continually forced to get bad haircuts in the school's "Cosmetology Lab"...and when I started growing whiskers, I was also forced to shave...usually in the Vice Principal's (Roy) Office, with a rusty, dry razor...( there's bad hygiene, for you!)
All of this was , supposedly, to prevent my "Appearance" from causing a "Disruption"...
I protested that the enforcement of such edicts was causing the disruption....a reasonable no avail.
It was, in realty, about Their Controll over Me.
After High School, my first job still wouldn't allow a beard, but didn't care about long long as it was clean and tied up....thus proving wrong yet another "reason" for the Rules; that the Schools are "preparing" Students for the realities of Life.
Now, I'm 40 years old....
I have had very long hair for 20 years...and worn a beard and mustache for most of that time.
I "remember" to shave when it itches...and cut my hair when it gets a knot...
During this time, I have been persecuted by the Law.
I get singled out for searches, and questioning, when the Redneck standing next to me has a pocket full of dope.
Seems that 30+ years ago, a lot of folks with long hair were dope smokers.
ie Anti Establishment Types, who disdained the track of the present "Civilisation" and Rebelled against it.
The excuse for the continued targetting of Long Hair for "special treatment" by Law Enforcement is the failed War on Drugs.
The Operative Mythology states that if a Man has Long Hair, he must, necessarily, be a Dope Smoker...which means, always, that he is also shooting Heroin, and on PCP...and is , thus, a Violent Danger to Society.
This is Stupid on many, many levels...and is furthered by most Schools' insistance on the continuance of these stereotypes.
I feel most comfortable when my hair is is no longer merely a stick in the eye of Authority.(That's just Lagniappe)
In High School, Roy (the VP) would try to explain things to me.
I'd say something about Equality, under the Law....after all , women were encouraged to maintain long,flowing locks...
He'd counter that Men shouldn't have long hair.(Hardly a refutation!)
I'd point to the picture of Jesus on his wall....
Are we not supposed to Immitate Christ?
(this was, admittedly, merely rhetorical, on my part...and he knew it...but the premise was/is valid...)
Or, I'd say, take Thomas Jefferson, et alia....
These arguments were never by some mealy mouthed assertion of "the way things are..."
Not good enough.
Senior year, in Tomball, I told VP Pit Viper that I was Rastafarian, and that, therefore, was forbidden by my religion from cutting my hair.
This worked, for a time, till she (I guess) did a little research....
Turns out that one must be Black to be Rasta....
I assert that it shouldn't have mattered in the first damn place!
That my hairstyle is a function of my Freedom of Expression...and is, thus, Protected, under the First Amendment.
I have heard the silly retorts my whole life...."But it is a Choice...You can conform, and stop the Persecution...therefor it is Not a Civil Rights Issue".
i say Bullshit.
That's a half baked Excuse...just like the "Disruption" argument.
It has no more merit than the appeal to Authority or Tradition.
I am either Free, to be who I am, whom I choose, while harming none.....or I ain't!

Now, I am a Father.
My oldest Son has a Dad who is a Long Haired Hippie.
Naturally, he wants to emulate this.
The school, however, is operating under the same, intolerant principals, as always.
8 years old, and he is Forced to keep his hair short, and in line with the style deemed "acceptable" by the Administration.
No reasons are given , beyond the same, tired Logical Fallacies that I dealt with.
(Appeal to Authority/Tradition)
Whether the Society, at large, likes it or not...I am an Adult...finally Free to wear my hair the way I see fit.
I vote. I pay the Taxes that pay the salaries of ,ostensibly, "my" employees.
Must we continue this charade for another Generation?
Are we really going to Alienate another kid?
To what end?
I'll make, here, my own Appeal to Tradition....
the American Tradition of Standing Up to Authority...of Demanding that Stupid, and Unjust Laws and Rules be Amended!
That's the kind of Tradition I endeavor to Teach my Sons.
What are the schools teaching, with this blind acceptance of Authority?
It is NOT 1950.
Those among us with an Authoritarian bent are Free to Pine for that Golden Age....that is their Right.
But to Force such nonsense on those who do not share their Pining is Wrong.
The World has moved on.
My kid sees his heroes, Albert Einstein among them, with long hair.
His Dad has long hair.
Yet the school will insist, beyond all Logic...that it's their way, or the highway.

I can almost hear the retort, as I'm writing this..."But, Joe, this is hardly a Big Enough Deal to raise such Hell over..."
I have been dealing with this issue for most of my life.
It Is a Big Deal.
This is is rumored that we won the Cold War...which was, supposedly, fought against a repressive , conformist and authoritarian ideology.
Yet, the only refutation I get to my complaint is based, when you get right down to it, on an Appeal to Authority.(which is a Logical Fallacy)
My Sophmore year, last day of classes...the Ag boys chased me around campus with sheep shears.Roy looked the other way.
Is that the kind of intolerance and Violence we want to encourage?
If you look different, if you are outside of the "Norm", you are Fair Game?

My kids, 4 and 8, currently, want to grow their hair...just like Dear Old Dad.
This harms no one.
Am I to tell them that they must Submit, when every fiber of my being says Stand Up!?
Submission to Authority is for Slaves...for lesser men.
To suspend students for the length of their hair smacks of Authoritarianism...and my boys, young as they are, are already learning that Authority must be Earned.
That it cannot be granted, or arrogated, on "Say so".
That Submission is Anathema to Free Men.
Would you have me amend these teachings?
On what grounds?
I am interested to hear your thoughts.

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