Is it a fashion statement? An invitation to debate? Or just one of those things kids (and by kids, I mean anyone under 30) do to differentiate themselves from those who came before? Friedrich Nietzsche first wrote that “God is Dead” more than 125 years ago and I’m sure it stirred up some controversy back then. Fast forward to modern day Washington State and the sentiment is once again causing a stir — this time over a high school yearbook photo.
As president of the debate club at Arlington High School, Justin Surber is certainly familiar with Nietzsche’s work. In fact, in order to spur debate amongst his fellow students, he wears a black shirt with Nietzsche’s words printed on it once a week. It seemed a natural choice of attire when it came time to take the debate club photo for the school yearbook. Apparently, however, the yearbook advisor disagreed and sent a photographer to retake the photo.
Surber believes it’s a matter of censorship and that he should be allowed to wear his shirt in the school photo. “It seems the debate club photo was retaken because my beliefs are not respected by this institution,” he said. “Given that photos of students in clothing with Christian messages are allowed in yearbook, one has to wonder if they are taking too much power into their hands with the whole discretion thing.” If indeed the shirt was the reason for the retaking of the photo, I would have to agree.
Still, it seems that Surber has a good attitude about the whole matter. “Whatever happens with this,” he says, “the process has been an education.” And, after all, that is the point, isn’t it?