Minnesota high school newspaper ‘flag’ photo stirs controversy

A committee was formed ata school board meeting Jan. 22 to evaluate St. Francis High School’spolicy on censorship after controversy erupted over a photo that was censoredfrom the public high school’s student newspaper.

The January issue ofThe Crier, St. Francis High School’s student newspaper, included astory covering the school’s production of “The Children’sStory,” that was to be accompanied by a photograph depicting the leadactress holding what appeared to be a torn American flag. It was in fact atablecloth bunting, material used for the production of patrioticdecorations. 

The principal told newspaper staff he did not want thepicture published for fear of offending the public or veterans.

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SPLCView: As an editorial in USA Today said about this case, there is acertain irony that the photo being censored here was of a scene from a schoolplay — staged without incident three weeks earlier — about thehorrors of an imaginary Soviet-style takeover of a U.S. school. Alas, irony onlyworks for those who understand and appreciate the underlying premise. This isone of those cases where it seems that a suggestion to add a caption thatexplained the context of the photo (and perhaps even noting that the it was atablecloth and not an actual flag being ripped) — and not the drastic (andsome might argue un-American) step of censorship — would have been a muchbetter choice.