Heavy-metal band sounds off on Michigan student’s suspension

Friday, March 13, 1998

ZEELAND, Mich. (AP) — The heavy-metal band Korn has some feedback for educators at Zeeland High School and student Eric VanHoven, who was suspended for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the band’s name.

The band known for its squealing guitars, throbbing bass and laryngitis-inducing screams thinks Assistant Principal Gretchen Plewes needs a refresher class in the Constitution.

Plewes called the band’s music “insulting” and “indecent, vulgar, obscene” and said school policy bans student clothing and other belongings that imply obscenity, violence, drugs or sexual innuendo.

Those comments and her decision to suspend VanHoven last week was an attempt to smear the reputation of a band known for songs like “Porno Creep” and interfere with its First Amendment rights, said Korn attorney David Baram.

“It is sadly ironic that an institution and an individual purportedly existing to expand and provoke the thinking processes of its students have instead chose to punish and pervert the freedom of expression and thought of those students,” Baram wrote in a letter dated Thursday to school officials.

Any further defamatory statements against Korn would result in a lawsuit, the letter said.

After VanHoven’s friends learned of the suspension, they began circulating a petition stating that the school “has better things to do than worry about what T-shirts we wear.”

Nearly 400 students and a few parents have signed the petition.

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  • School suspends Michigan teen over T-shirts 3.12.98