Comment of the Day: The “I ♥ Boobies” Saga

Me too! Uh, all in the interest of breast cancer detection and awareness, of course. Wait, what did you think I meant?

Me too! Uh, all in the interest of breast cancer detection and awareness, of course. Wait, what did you think I meant?

As is often the case, this topic interests me more than it appears to engage Ethics Alarms readers, so I was thrilled to see the following comment by Ulrike, who seems to share my belief that “Keep A Breast” Foundation is the ethics villain of this First Amendment skirmish, choosing buzz and cheap publicity over responsible messaging and being willing to throw well-aimed, legally immune monkey wrench into the classroom as well. 

Here is the Comment of the Day by Ulrike (who also has amassed a bumper crop of Ethics Alarms brownie points by being the blogs most determined volunteer proof-reader) on the post  The “I  ♥  Boobies” Saga.

I beg anyone’s pardon if you may find this off topic, but I really need to vent my anger about these bracelets: The message that these bracelets are sending out is not “Save your life by having regular check-ups!” but “Women are perceived as having breasts first, and subsequently as a person”. All this bracelet manages to do is to reduce women to their sexual attractiveness while fighting for their very lives. Well done, “Keep A Breast” Foundation. I wonder what bracelets girls and women who fell victim to aggressive breast cancer and lost one or both breasts are supposed to wear. Maybe “Don’t got boobies you can love anymore”? Continue reading

The “I ♥ Boobies” Saga

boobies bracelet

Some time in the foreseeable future, we may have the pleasure of reading the various opinions of sages like Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg regarding the import of bracelets bearing the message, ” I  ♥ Boobies,” and whether it is a constitutional violation for public schools to ban students from wearing them. In August, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Pennsylvania’s’ Easton Area School District’s  prohibition of the breast cancer awareness bracelets on the grounds that they were potentially disruptive and inappropriately vulgar.

In late October, the District voted  authorize the district’s solicitor to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to have the high court hear arguments in the case. The controversy has been going on for three years, has cost the district  thousands of dollars in litigation costs that should have been spent on education, and will result, you can bet, in even more egregious expansion of vulgar language in the schools.

This easily avoidable Ethics Train Wreck occurred when two middle school students in Easton wore the bracelets to school with their parents’ permission despite a school ban that called them “distracting and demeaning.”  ETHICS FOUL #2  School is about learning and facilitating learning, not making an effort to intentionally pick fights  in the shadowy realm of First Amendment law. Why did the parents do this? Are the provocative bracelets really essential school fare? Will their presence in the schools have a measurable impact on breast cancer awareness? Was the ability of the girls to wear the bracelets, and their opportunity to bend the school to its will worth all the cost, time and disruption this defiance of a dress code was likely to cause a legitimate utilitarian trade-off?  I don’t think so. Continue reading