Photo: iStock

I had really, honestly and truly hoped that we had left all this Confederate flag/monument/symbolism bullshit in 2017, but alas, that does not seem to be the case.

At least not at Big Sky High School in Missoula, Mont., where 17-year-old Mitchell Ballas insisted on repeatedly wearing a vile ass Confederate flag sweatshirt, despite the administration’s warnings and request to just stop.

According to The Missoulian, Ballas claimed that he was wearing the sweatshirt to stand up for students’ First Amendment rights to free speech. Ballas’ campaign started when one of his friends in school was asked not to wear a Confederate-flag hat. The teen actually went out and bought the sweatshirt purposely and began wearing it to school every day.

“I know what the school is doing is wrong,” he told the news site.. “I’m doing everything in my legal right to wear this sweatshirt. The school is in the wrong for saying they can dictate me wearing this sweatshirt. They’re saying it’s offending kids and it’s derogatory and all that, but it’s not. It’s my First Amendment right.”

Of course, by now you know the drill. Ballas claims that he’s not wearing the garment to be racist, claiming that the flag has been used for wrong reasons.

Advertisement

“Whatever they think this flag stands for, it doesn’t,” he insisted.

He claims that he wears the flag to represent the apostle St. Andrew, who was crucified on a cross shaped as an X because he didn’t feel as if he were worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus.

“I don’t wear it to threaten people, I don’t wear it for white supremacists. I wear it because it’s my First Amendment right; I have the right to wear it,” he said. “I’m doing it to show the school that you cannot dictate our First Amendment rights.”

Advertisement

The principal at Big Sky, Natalie Jaeger, declined to discuss matters dealing with specific students but acknowledged that in the last month, several students have been showing their whole entire asses displaying the controversial flag on clothing and cars. That has resulted in several other students, about 30 in total, going to the administration and saying that they were afraid or anxious because of the display of the flag.

“I have had disagreement from a couple of students and a couple of parents, based on the fact that the Confederate flag is misunderstood,” Jaeger said. “We’re going to continue to disagree on that. Regardless of the intent of the students displaying the flag, the flag is a symbol in 2018 that is used to express racism and oppression, and that has no place in an educational environment.”

Advertisement

Ballas told the Missoulian that he began wearing his sweatshirt last Wednesday and was asked to take it off. He said he did, but wore it again the next day. Same thing. He was asked to take it off. By Friday, he was given detention for two days for wearing the garment again.

When he continued to wear the sweatshirt, he was given an in-school suspension, which he attended wearing the item. On Tuesday he was finally given out-of-school suspension.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to wear the sweatshirt again, and if they suspend me longer, they suspend me longer, but I’m not going to give in to them,” he said Tuesday. “What they’re doing is wrong, and I won’t allow it.”

Advertisement

Ballas insisted that there was nothing in the school handbook and dress code that specifically banned his wearing the Confederate battle flag,

However, Jaeger insisted that was within her rights to ban the shirt, based on its “disruption of the learning environment” under school policy that reads that if student “behavior or its ramifications constitutes a disruption of the learning environment, administrators reserve the right to discipline students who threaten and/or harass their classmates regardless of where or how the specific behavior occurs.”