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ANUS Attacks State of Texas for Discriminatory Laws

Texas H.S. Dress Code Discriminates Against Hessian Lifestyle

January 10, 2008

KERENS, Texas - Matthew Lopez-Widish, one of five students suspended from Kerens High School for not cutting their hair, has transferred to another high school that will allow him to wear his hair down.

Just prior to mid-winter break at Kerens High School, Matthew and four other students were summoned into the principal's office, where they were told by that if they did not cut their hair in a manner that complies with the current dress code, they would be deprived of the privilege to participate in extracurricular activities, and that their eligibility to graduate could possibly be revoked. Although classes have resumed this week, none of the students in question have shorn their locks. "I told them that I'm not going to cut my hair," said Matthew, 18, whose hair, when uncurled, falls below his shoulders. "It may seem kind of stubborn, but to me, it's part of who I am."

The call for stricter reinforcement of of the school's arbitrary policy was expressed during school board meetings last fall, when parents complained about recurring instances of students disobeying the hair code in the student handbook. Apparently, Hessian students had neglected to restrict their hair from falling below their shirt collar or from covering their ear. The hair policy for male students at Kerens High also stipulates that hair may not fall below the eyebrows, extend inch over the ears, and that ponytails can be no longer than a half-inch. The student dress code does not mention hair length for female students.

Superintendent Kevin Stanford came up with a solution to repeated complaints about hair length: All high school males with long hair must get haircuts. "What happened was that a number of male students would come in with it down, and they would play games and not have it up when they should have," said Mr. Stanford, whose grayish hair is cut close to the scalp. "The students had a chance to follow the rules, and they didn't."

Matthew, who is a straight-A student, regularly performs in his school's theatre productions, in addition to maintaining a part-time job. He explained: "They said as long as I keep it within the dress code, I can keep it. It can't be past my collar, cover my ears or my eyebrows. To meet the dress code standards, Matthew's mom would braid his hair and then tuck the braids to shorten them and keep them off his collar. After slicking back his hair on the top to keep it out of his face and from covering his ears, it's hard to tell that his hair is nearly 2 feet long, Matthew said.

Matthew's mother, Linda Lopez, doesn't buy the superintendent's reasoning that students didn't comply. She believes that the school board is against males having long hair, which she says is utterly foolish. "It's not the '60s anymore. They aren't hippies, and they aren't radical anti-war tree huggers," she said. Indeed, the Hessian lifestyle, which is characterized by long, flowing hair, is diametrically opposed to the superficially conservative dress codes that pervade educational insitutions as well as many workplaces, now dominated by those selfsame hippies.

Reluctance to comply with such rules occur with increasing frequency. In 2006, a Native American man had be refused unemployment benefits after being fired from his job for refusing to cut his hair for religious reasons. In the Sikh tradition men do not cut their hair, opting rather to contain their locks within turbans - such headwear further contends with many dress codes in the Western world, as evidenced by the French ban of headscarves worn by Muslim girls in 2004. Likewise, Matthew and his peers are singled out for their Hessian lifestyle. Although Hessianism is not a religious denomination, it is a culture with adherents worldwide.

Hessianism emphasizes pride in one's ancestry, regardless of race, and recognizes the transience of contemporary social norms. Such a lack of importance granted to externalities often conflicts with Western values, especially here in the United States. It is perhaps for the universality of the Hessian ideology that the students' refusal to cut their hair has spurred national and international attention. TV news programs from as far away as Germany have looked into interviewing Matthew. He had already appeared on the CBS Early Show Thursday morning. Yet despite the sensationalism that will flutter around this issue for the next few days, no journalist will provide these students with the thoughtful questions that address the heart of the matter.

About ANUS

The American Nihilist Underground Society advocates nihilism, or a removal of interpretive layers from our perception of physical reality, as a means of transcending illusion. Nihilism denies value and purpose, which are byproducts of the human desire to judge reality and make a consensual "social reality" that by seizing on a single material factor misses the intelligible, or design-based, knowledge we need to adapt to reality. ANUS has been promoting nihilism since 1987.


About Nihilism

Nihilism is the belief that nothing we perceive has Absolute value; reality exists, but beyond its inherent meaning to us as the physical container of our existence, it has no significance outside of what we perceive. "The world is my representation," indeed. When we strip away all of the values projected onto physical reality and its outcomes, we are left only with personal ideal and natural ideal, and bringing the former into adaptation with the latter is the lifetime task to which nihilism is a gateway.