My kid got kicked out of the zoo for a shirt ! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 02:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son (age 7), and our entire family, got asked to leave the zoo because he was wearing a shirt the said (across the top): "Ancient Chinese proverb:" and then had Chinese style writing (written from bottom to top)--in English--"Fuck this Shit". It looked like Chinese writing when you looked at it from straight on, and you had to turn your head severely to the side to see what it really said in English. My cousin bought this shirt for my son, and it really is adorable on him---AND he loves it ! The zoo "rent-a-cop" said it was a violation of the "family values" of the zoo, and told us if we didn't leave immediately, we would be forcibly made to leave ! I asked him to show me in writing where it said that in the zoo policies, and he said it was just a "spoken rule" and "should be obvious" that they wouldn't allow such a thing in a "family environment" ! I feel my son's rights were violated, not to mention the rest of the family's rights, seeing as how we paid good money to get into the zoo--money which was NOT refunded ! We never have a hangup in our family about such words and my kids also don't see why it was such a big deal, especially since you REALLY had to look to understand what it said. What do all of you think ?? Advice and opinions, PLEASE! My son said "Fuck their policies!" and i agreed with him ! LOL !
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#2 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 02:27 AM
 
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I wouldn't want to see profanities (even written top to bottom) at the zoo. Kids figure these things out and say it over and over for shock value. I don't want my ds saying that. I do't like to see grafitti with those words around either. nThey should have given you the option of changing shirts or getting a refund.
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#3 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 02:40 AM
 
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I think they should have refunded your money, but I think they are within their rights. Disneyland does the same thing- they will let you wear the "offensive" shirt inside out, though.

I don't get offended by profanity, but it's common courtesy to not wear offensive shirts in family settings, in my opinion.

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#4 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 02:44 AM
 
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Yeah, it's offensive to me, but I agree with above posters that you should have been refunded.
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#5 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 02:53 AM
 
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7yo wearing a shirt in a zoo w/the F word on it? Yeah.. to me at least, a little offensive, and I'm no prude! I would definitely be upset if I saw that at the zoo. When my husband was 16 he was told to either leave the mall or turn his t-shirt inside out that said "If you dont like what we do" on the front, and "Fuck off" on the back. I would be less offended to see a 16yo w/the shirt than a 7yo! lol It is a little funny tho too, but just not at a zoo where the place is primarily for children, ykwim? Maybe at Monster Jam!

As far as refunding your $... I am not sure. If you guys had been yelling profanities and they'd kicked you out, would you have expected a refund? I think they could have given him the option to turn the shirt inside out or leave, but I don't know that a refund is appropriate.

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#6 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 03:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by dynamicdoula
7yo wearing a shirt in a zoo w/the F word on it? Yeah.. to me at least, a little offensive, and I'm no prude! I would definitely be upset if I saw that at the zoo. When my husband was 16 he was told to either leave the mall or turn his t-shirt inside out that said "If you dont like what we do" on the front, and "Fuck off" on the back. I would be less offended to see a 16yo w/the shirt than a 7yo! lol It is a little funny tho too, but just not at a zoo where the place is primarily for children, ykwim? Maybe at Monster Jam!

As far as refunding your $... I am not sure. If you guys had been yelling profanities and they'd kicked you out, would you have expected a refund? I think they could have given him the option to turn the shirt inside out or leave, but I don't know that a refund is appropriate.
ITA with this whole post. : I'm shocked that they even make a shirt like that to fit a 7 y.o., let alone that anyone would buy it or wear it in a family environment. And yeah, kids aren't stupid. They're going to figure out what it says FAST, and repeat it (probably where my 2 year old's innocent ears can hear).

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#7 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 03:40 AM
 
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I don't think the issue is whether or not the shirt was offensive. I think the issue is whether or not a security officer has the right to make someone leave a public place for wearing an offensive shirt, especially threatening to "forcibly remove" a non-violent customer. I see this as a First Amendment issue. A man here locally was made to leave a mall for wearing a pro-peace shirt. A security officer decided that pro-peace was the same as anti-soldier/anti-war/anti-Bush whatever and was therefore offensive. It doesn't matter if people are offended by it or not. People don't have the right to not be offended. Lots of people are offended by breastfeeding, you know. This is a bad precedent. I think the OP should contact the ACLU.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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#8 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 03:44 AM
 
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Definitely think you should have been offered a refund if they didn't tell you you could turn it inside out, or even if they did and you/he didn't want to.

I'd expect most public places, especially family-oriented ones, to not permit outright obscenities in printed form. Even if they were well-disguised.
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#9 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 03:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by feebeeglee
Definitely think you should have been offered a refund if they didn't tell you you could turn it inside out, or even if they did and you/he didn't want to.

I'd expect most public places, especially family-oriented ones, to not permit outright obscenities in printed form. Even if they were well-disguised.
I totally agree.
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#10 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 03:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sbf
...People don't have the right to not be offended...
What about hate speech?

I realize that's OT really, Alice, if you wanna PM me instead that's cool. Altho I predict this discussion will venture far and wide from the OP :LOL
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#11 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 04:01 AM
 
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stupid ? for the night - is that zoo you went to a public place??? If you paid to get in, it is not public right?? so if it is run by an organization they should be able to make their rules of what is okay & not okay to wear there I would think. not only to respect 'family values' but to keep their guests safe from gang violence as well or a lot of neked skin

it is your right to dress a lil girl in slutty stuff with make up at age 7 or your lil ds in a shirt with profanity on it but at a place you pay to go to that has rules for clothing posted, nope sympathy from here cause you got to play by their rules
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#12 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 04:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Vanna's Mom
they should be able to make their rules of what is okay & not okay to wear there
What if they made a rule that all females have to wear dresses? What if they say I can't breastfeed? Or that if I do I have to make sure that not a speck of skin shows? And what about that pro-peace shirt?

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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#13 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 04:29 AM
 
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hey I am not down on you for doing anything of those things, just saying it is your right to dress your kid anyway you want even if it is profane, pic of something gross, or skin baringly sexy seven yr old girl

you knew when you put the shirt out for your ds to choose from that half of america would be offended and some would not 'get it' and another bunch would think it was a hoot

But there are places where there are dress codes -for example I bet your ds does not wear that t shirt to school, there are private zoos & public zoos I would not have left, I would have prob just turned my kids shirt inside out, we have done that before in our family cause my ds has shirt that is not allowed at his df school & we went to watch df in a class show
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#14 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 04:41 AM
 
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I don't know why you would let your kid wear that shirt in the first place.
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#15 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 05:05 AM
 
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Hhmm... I find it interesting that everyone is worked up about the word fuck and no one cares about the intrinsic cultural insensitivity. I have mixed feelings about you being forced to leave. They probably do 'reserve the right to deny service' blah blah blah... and the shirt was indecent by some standards. An opportunity to turn it inside out or a refund should have been offered. IMO a business has the right, within legal limits, to insist that you not destroy the atmosphere on which heir livlihood depends.
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#16 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 05:43 AM
 
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I think they were within their rights if they can show you the portion of their rules that states that there is a dress code involving phrases or styles commonly perceived as obscene. If they don't have this, they were wrong for sending you out, and I agree with sbf in contacting aclu.

Other than that, I'd say "fudge them!"
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#17 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 08:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kama'aina mama
Hhmm... I find it interesting that everyone is worked up about the word fuck and no one cares about the intrinsic cultural insensitivity.
ITA. The cultural insensitivity of that T-shirt sounds just gross.
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#18 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 09:28 AM
 
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What kama'aina mama said.
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#19 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 10:13 AM
 
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I also think you should have been offered the option of turning the shirt inside out as well. Then it would have been your choice to cooperate or not, but do not feel a refund was warranted. This is a matter of common courtesy to others & I don't think there is anywhere where they would have given you back the money if you didn't want to follow the rules, written or not. JMHO
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#20 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 10:32 AM
 
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The thing that bugs me is that they kicked you out based on something for which they didn't have a written policy. I would probably write a letter to the zoo and complain about the security guy.

Did they give you the option of turning the shirt inside out or changing shirts?

I would write them and tell them that if they're going to kick paying patrons out for violating their "family values" code they need to write said code down.

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#21 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 10:40 AM
 
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I'm with SBF- the only question I'm asking is if the zoo is public or private? Privately owned business can (I think) ask such things if they have the same rules in writing for all guests. I do also think you should have been refunded.

The issue is not should she let her son wear this shirt- she does. Now we're looking at the legality of asking her family to leave. We can't ask everyone to share our ideals. I don't get why people let their kids be walking advertisements but I wouldn't imply you're somehow lacking or wrong for doing so. And I certainly would support your right to do so in a public place. So maybe we can back off from saying it is ok because YOU find it offensive and look at the issue. Just me .02
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#22 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 10:46 AM
 
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1. As someone with a large Asian component to my family, I am probably more offended by the cultural insensitivity of that shirt, than the profanity itself. Profanity, in the right context, does not upset me. However, I will confess that seeing it on a 7 year old would make me seriously question the values of the parent (perhaps that is my own inherent bias or prudishness, not saying it is wrong and I'm right, but I'd feel that way nevertheless and I'm sure others would, and my concern would be how that child is treated as a result).

2. The zoo is not a public place unless you have free access and your tax dollars go directly to support it, in which case rules would be made by an elected board, to which you would have input as a tax-paying citizen. When you pay to enter a facility, you are presented with rules, and if you don't like them, you don't have to go. This is far different from being told to leave a public place b/c of what you are wearing. If the OP was just walking through the park, then I would agree she has the right to put on her kids whatever she likes. But a zoo is a paid-entrance place, and frankly I would be offended to see a kid wearing something like that in a family-oriented place.

3. I would agree that the OP deserved a refund IF the rules were not CLEARLY POSTED in the place where she purchased the tickets (which I'm guessing they weren't).

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#23 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 10:55 AM
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Do the animals f*ck and shit at the zoo? that's what I would have asked.

But I have a knee jerk reaction to a 7 year old wearing that shirt and then using the word (f*ck) because I think it's best to save those words for the years down the road.

I don't think your son is a threat to family values (whatever that means at an institution for cage animals with inherently reduced life spans because of their placement at a zoo) but I am not keen on that shirt for a young boy and don't find it 'adorable' as a concept.
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#24 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 10:56 AM
 
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Hmmm...I agree with the cultural piece of this, its just, well, tacky. Yes, it could be seen as funny or cute, but honestly, I too would question the appropriateness of that kind of shirt on a 7yo, as I am not sure a child would understand the implications of wearing that shirt. (this coming from a woman with a mouth that often hurls explicatives ad nauseum) That being said, I do not agree with you being asked to leave the zoo, or 'threatened' to be removed, etc. I think the turning the shirt inside out option should have been offered. If they could have proven that in their rules somewhere it states you can't wear offensive shirts to the zoo, well then you are sh*t out of luck.
But, what did you expect? Did you think no-one would figure the shirt out? Of course it is your right to dress the way you choose (or dress your child) but when you are going to wear clothes like that, or some other article of clothing that makes a 'statement' there are bound to be people who's feathers it ruffles. Isn't that the point?
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#25 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 11:17 AM
 
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Piglet- I was trying to stay off of the "is it offensive" part of the post to focus on the "is it legal" part of asking them to leave. However If I would have gotten into it I would have said the exact same things as in your #1. Chinese calligraphy is more than writing. It is an art, and a very meaningful part of their culture. I'm more disturbed by the spoofing of that than swear words.
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#26 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 12:00 PM
 
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Right or wrong, wouldn't it be *common sense* that a shirt with profanity would create problems if worn at a place geared toward children? Are you actually surprised that someone took issue with it? They are only words, but much of the population do find it offensive, especially in relation to children. Plus, teaching children such a lack of respect for people's culture is very disturbing. It is your choice to let your child wear what he wants, but you really can't be terribly surprised at other people's reactions.


 

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#27 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 12:31 PM
 
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It all comes down to law. I agree with Piglet. I probably is a private for profit organization. They then have their own written rules and regulations probably based on federal and state statutes. You can ask for a copy of those. They also should have been posted for the public to review.

Personally, I would not let my child, at age 7, wear a shirt like that. I don't think a child of that age could fully understand the implications of the message or why someone would get offended. At that age, they probably just think it is "cool".

If you feel like your rights and your sons rights were violated I am sure you probably have a local Office of Civil rights in your area or in the city that is closest to you. You can contact them. They most likely provide free advice over the phone. You can also explore filing a complaint with the zoo.
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#28 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 12:33 PM
 
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I agree that the shirt was inappropriate for the zoo, on 2 levels...both using the "f" word in a family environment, and on a cultural level.

Maybe you should write a letter to the zoo and ask them to re-frame and make clear a policy which states that people who wear clothes with profanities on them could be given the option of turning them inside out before being kicked out of the zoo.

I suppose we could have a long discussion about rights here.... It seems to me that people are very focused on their rights, but not always as focused on their responsibilties.
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#29 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 12:52 PM
 
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Hmm, many issues here. Do I like the shirt? No, I find that tacky on a 7 year old. But hey, that's why mine won't wear one. I also find baby gap logos tacky on a shirt, so I certainly understand differing opinions on this.

Regarding the legality of it: The First Amendment only protects citizens from government entities, not private entities. So assuming the zoo is a private place, the First Amendment is not applicable. How is this different than breastfeeding? The right to breastfeed in a public place is a law, which I would say makes it a 'protected' group. For instance, you could not kick out someone because of their race or gender, because they are protected groups under law.

I probably would have asked them to show me where the rule against profanity is stated (but would not be surprised that they do have a rule against it at a family park). If we wanted to stay I would have offered to turn the shirt inside out, which should have been good enough for them. But otherwise, it sounds like it was within their rights to ask you to leave.
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#30 of 374 Old 06-21-2004, 01:03 PM
 
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I fully plan on allowing swear words to be used in my house (or, continue to be used ). But, IMO, part of allowing your children to use "f-ck" or any other supposedly offensive word is teaching him/her the inherent power of that word. It's teaching that sort of sensitivity (i.e. Grandma doesn't like those words in her house, so we shouldn't use them there) that is so important if you allow your child to "swear". Further, that sensitivity will hopefully lead your child (and maybe you) to question, for example whether it is appropriate to make light of the Chinese tradition of calligraphy. (Personally, I think we are all too careful to not offend anyone, but that's way OT.)

With regard to the security guard/power tripper, I would have planted my two feet and asked them whether he thought discriminating against those who chose to wear certain types of clothing was in line with enhancing family values. Or whether he felt threatened enough by your 7 year old child to forcibly remove him along with the rest of your family. I question whether rules that aren't available to patrons are really enforcible. Needless to say, I wouldn't return to that zoo!
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