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Courts made the right call in American flag case

To the editor: Usually I concur with The Times' take on free-speech issues. On the Morgan Hill high school's flag shirts case, however, I question your editorial's factual slant. ("Court ruling shows hazy high school freedom," editorial, March 31)

The precedent case of Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District took place 46 years ago and involved an Iowa high school with a student body far more homogeneous than we now have in California. Male students at or near draft age constituted a sizable percentage of the student body in 1969, while the Vietnam War ravaged their slightly older contemporaries. Wearing the black armbands signified solidarity, not divisiveness.

Your editorial also didn't mention that the Morgan Hill high school had already suffered at least 30 fights between white and Mexican American students, some of which likely reflected residual animosity from the previous year's flag display incident.

Given these facts, it's hard to fault Morgan Hill school administrators for acting to defuse heightened adolescent proclivity toward violence.

Edward Alston, Santa Maria, Calif.

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