The Devil Went Down to Texas

WHAT are the most serious crises afflicting American youth today?

Drugs? High drop-out rates? Teen pregnancy?

School officials in Lubbock, Tex., answer this question with one, all-encompassing word: Satanism.

And they've declared war.

In an effort to shield public school children in the West Texas town from the wily influences of the Evil One, the school board has adopted a strict dress code that bars all references to Him and His minions from students' attire.

Upon arriving at school in August, Lubbock students--including my sister--were met with a flyer titled "Satanic Symbols" and an addendum called "Additional Signs of Satanic Worship and Heavy Metal Music." The new policy bans all such symbols and signs students' clothes and personal belongings.

"These symbols are used in satanic rituals, however, if you start looking around area, you may see them spray painted or drawn on walls, bridges and sidewalks," the list's introduction warns. "The frequency in sightings of such symbols is a strong indication of the influence the occult is having in our society."

Among the signs of the Dark One, according to Lubbock officials:

Exhibit A: You may recognize this as the peace symbol, but the Lubbock School Board calls it the "Cross of Neri." It is banned for the following reason: "This symbol represents [sic] peace in the early 60s, but now, among the Heavy Metal and Occult groups, signifies the "Cross of Neri." It shows an `upside down' cross with the cross member broken downward--`The Defeat of Christianity.'"

Exhibit B: The Star of David is a sacred symbol of Judaism, right? Well, it's really a hexagram, which, according to the Lubbock school board, is "also referred to as the "`Seal Solomon,'...one of the most powerful symbols in the Occult."

Exhibit C: No explanation is given about why the Yin/Yang symbol is banned. It's prominence in the flag of South Korea is presumably "a strong indication of the influence the occult is having" in populous East Asian democracies.

Other naughty symbols include an inverted cross, the anarchy symbol, a lightening bolt, a goat's head and the pentagram (inverted or right-side-up).

Lubbock leaders have also taken steps to stamp out "the mark of the beast"--three Greek letters sigma in sequence (tough luck, advanced calculus students), three sixes or three F's. ("Note that the letter `F' is the sixth letter of the alphabet.")

RATHER than just oppose Satan's message, Lubbock leaders are on the attack against His messengers--who now pose as members of heavy metal bands.

Specifically, they've determined that 33 music groups--curiously, exactly half of 66 groups--"carry negative messages within their music." Included are heavy metal bands like Slayer, Wasp, Black Sabbath and Megadeath as well as more mainstream performers such as "Led Zepplin" [sic], Guns-N-Roses, Styx, AC/DC and Van Halen. Students may no longer wear t-shirts from these bands, or write the band's name on their t-shirts or notebooks.

"Music sells a message!!" the flyer screams. "Heavy metal music promotes the following: drugs, irresponsible sex, violence, sadism, masochism, suicide and murder."

It may have occurred to you that there might be some pesky civil liberties concerns about all this banning business. But school officials in Lubbock appear to have written all that off using a "clear and present danger argument." The day of judgment, after all, could take us by surprise any day now.

With so much at stake, little niceties like freedom of expression and freedom of religion can be swept under the rug. And if a court of law ever questions the constitutionality of the regulations, school officials can always claim that the Devil made them do it.

Joseph R. Palmore '91 is managing editor of The Crimson. He owns two Led Zeppelin albums, but nonetheless claims not to worship Satan.