Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Rosary is a Gang Symbol: Who Knew?

I read in the news that Tabitha Ruiz has worn her silver and ruby beaded rosary ever since she was a child. It's a gift from her mother.

And, it's verboten at Seagoville High School, near Dallas, Texas.

A security guard stopped her at the door.

That rosary is gang-related, according to the security guard. And, presumably, according to the school's principal.

To be fair, there's a nugget of truth in saying that rosaries are gang symbols.

" 'Lately they've been seen wearing religious jewelry such as the rosary worn by gang members, so it is a factor,' said Sr. Cpl Kevin Janse of the Dallas Police Department.

"Although rosaries are not specifically banned by name in the district's dress code, a DISD spokesman did say, 'It's up to the principal's discretion. We chose to err on the side of caution.' "

There's another point of view, of course. " 'If we back down to everything the gangs are doing, the gangs win,' said Taire Ferguson. 'Why should we take away her choice to express her religious beliefs because gangs are doing it? It's not right.' "
(Quotes from MyFox Dallas.)

I think I understand the school officials and law enforcement on this one.
  • Some gangs have, in fact, used rosaries as identifying symbols, or at least as fashion statements
  • Catholics use a great number of symbols and objects as part of the way they practice their faith
  • Protestants, by and large, don't
  • America has been a predominantly Protestant country, and so the relatively symbol-free Protestant expression of faith is the cultural norm
  • People departing from a norm stick out, by definition
And, since 'normal' people don't wear rosaries, and some gang members do, it's natural enough to assume that rosaries are gang symbols, and that people who wear rosaries are gang members. If I remember my logic correctly, that's an inductive fallacy. It's also a very human thing to do.

Besides, the Seagoville High School principal may be trying to protect students from being mis-identified as gang members, by banning rosaries. If that's the case, I trust that the dress code also bans all colors and articles of clothing that gangs use for identification.

A policy which, potentially, would turn the school into a nudist camp.

This sort of policy, which in effect tells people to check their religious practices at the door, makes me more sympathetic toward Muslims, Sikhs, and others whose system of belief encourages them to look a bit less like Yankees than most of us do.

More, at "Student Told Rosary is Gang Symbol" (MyFox Dallas (September 16, 2008)).

Still more, at "Who Knew? Assertions, Assumptions and Assorted Weirdness from All Over"

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.