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'Freedom for Iran' slogan painted over at La Jolla High

The slogan on benches at La Jolla High before being painted over. Click through for a larger photo. The Middle East is roiling with calls for democracy, but officials at La Jolla High School in San Diego had the slogans "Freedom For Iran" and "Down With Dictator" painted over when they were discovered on three "senior benches" where messages are permitted.

School Principal Dana Shelburne told KGTV-TV Channel 10 that painting over the benches and obliterating the slogans was not a violation of students' 1st Amendment rights.

The slogans, on the back and seat of the concrete benches, had been painted by Iranian American students at the school.

In a statement to the television station, Shelburne said: "I fully support the Constitution and freedom of speech. But the rules need to be followed. The bench is for birthday wishes or school spirit messages."

The school has a bulletin board where political messages are appropriate, the principal told KGTV.

Parham Hariri, a 2004 graduate of the school, said he was outraged that the pro-democracy message was painted over. As an Iranian, he said, he wants to see change in his native country and believes the slogans could raise awareness among students.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: The slogan on benches at La Jolla High before being painted over. Credit: KGTV-TV Channel 10

 
Comments () | Archives (7)

Anything painted on those benches that is deemed in appropriate is painted over IMMEDIATELY! Then only things that are allowed to stay are school spirited things. I say if you want to see a change in your native country....go back there and do something about it.

As a student of La Jolla High School and Senior Class President, I would like to point out that the only two rules that have ever been publicly announced or written regarding the senior benches are that paint must only go on the three designated benches and that profanity and vulgar slogans are not permitted.

Furthermore, the faculty has not brought to the attention of its students that there is a bulletin board designated for political information and such. The bulletin boards are typically used for advertising ASB events and theater productions, and most students are not aware of the access they have to them.

So, in my opinion, Shelbourne is incorrect in saying that rules were broken in this situation. If rules are not stated, written down, or made clear in any other form, how are students expected to know they exist?

On another note, it seems unjust that the faculty does not consistently regulate the content of the benches. Merely a week before the Persian Club posted their message on the benches, students wrote "All I want for my 18th birthday is sex" as part of their birthday message to a friend. This message was not censored by the faculty, and this is just one example of many instances where the faculty has not enforced their policy. It is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion, that the faculty allows such juvenile and vulgar phrases to be on the senior benches but paints over a positive democracy-supporting message.

Sincerely,

The Senior Class President at La Jolla High School.

As a 2008 graduate and former President of the LJHS Persian Club, I must say that I am extremely proud of the students who have stood up for, and tried to promote the movement towards freedom in Iran. Students never were told before this incident that political messages weren't allowed on the senior benches, in fact Obama related messages were visible during the last presidential race; however, I do believe that the students should respect the newly found rule of "birthday wishes or school spirit messages" on the benches from here on out.

Although millions will continue to struggle and fight daily for their freedom in Iran, life must go on back at La Jolla High. I just hope that Mr. Shelburne can find it within himself to acknowledge the positive message that the students are trying to inform and enlighten their peers about so that everyone at the school can move on, because this honestly looks like it's become more of a distraction than anything else.

Wishing the best for my friends, family, and the millions of others fighting for their freedom in Iran.

Sincerely,
Peter Ghamarian

As a 2008 graduate and former President of the LJHS Persian Club, I must say that I am extremely proud of the students who have stood up for, and tried to promote the movement towards freedom in Iran. Students never were told before this incident that political messages weren't allowed on the senior benches, in fact Obama related messages were visible during the last presidential race; however, I do believe that the students should respect the newly found rule of "birthday wishes or school spirit messages" on the benches from here on out.

Although millions will continue to struggle and fight daily for their freedom in Iran, life must go on back at La Jolla High. I just hope that Mr. Shelburne can find it within himself to acknowledge the positive message that the students are trying to inform and enlighten their peers about so that everyone at the school can move on, because this honestly looks like it's become more of a distraction than anything else.

Wishing the best for my friends, family, and the millions of others fighting for their freedom in Iran.

Sincerely,
Peter Ghamarian

For all the inane messages that have been on those benches, to see one with a real message get painted over so quickly is just sad. I guess the message from administration is that high school banter should be kept frivolous and vapid –heaven forbid you say anything actually meaningful that might push boundaries or make people ask questions…

Freedom For Iran


What is offensive about that? If I was the principal of that school I would be proud! The students are showing that they care about what is going on in the world, they are involved and connected to the happenings of democracy. It is positive and school related, unless of course this school does not teach current events, history or civics? The principal should appologize and state why "Freedom For Iran" was so offensive to him. Maybe he likes dictatorship, maybe he is buddies with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or it could be that he is practicing totalitarianism for his own rise to power? Either way he is no friend to our constitution. Poor kids being bullied just because they can't vote, don't pay taxes and have no real "rights".

Alicia--

To add to Yasamin's response:

First, As Yasamin pointed out, *innapropriate* (notice that it is one word) phrases are not painted over constantly. We would know this because we're current students at LJHS, unlike you.

Second, I was born and raised in California, I am not from Iran. Even if I were, though, that statement you made was quite ignorant. People that are currently in Iran face the risk of being murdered for wanting to see change in their country. So, obvioiusly, it would not be safe or practical to "go back there and do something about it".

So, Ms. Snook, I would suggest thinking before writing comments or speaking to possibly avoid seeming ignorant.


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