Monday, June 12, 2006

The Biffo Barbershop Incident

Figaro - the barber of Seville, of courseOver two thousand years ago, Aristotle figured out that the big thing in analysing any issue was to reduce everything to its essential features. Don’t be distracted by details that aren’t important; you have to get to the root of the thing.

This is a penny that has yet to drop in the Irish media. Such coverage as An Spailpín Fánach has seen of the Biffo Barbergate Incident all seems to focus on the question of how long a young man’s hair should be. Brody Sweeney, that seller of expensive sandwiches, was telling Marian Finucane on Sunday that in his young day the thing was to grow your hair long, like Jesus, presumably. There’s a hairdresser quoted in yesterday's Sunday Tribune remarking that a number one blade is no big deal, really. An Spailpín couldn’t quite figure what could be closer than a number one blade; decapitation, one presumes.

But this is all dancing around the issue. The issue is not about hair or haircuts. The issue is about whether or not a school has a right to make rules in areas that are not strictly academic, and what parental attitudes to those rules should be. If you believe that yes, the school does have the right to impose a dress code on a student body, then it’s case closed, and the headmaster was well within his right to turn the three young people away. If you don’t believe that a school has the right to impose a dress code – well, maybe you ought to send your children somewhere else? The day before the Junior Cert seems a little last minute to be making these sort of decisions.

An Spailpín is unsure if the school still has the right to impose its dress code once the exams start, the school year being technically over, but he’s not that bothered, really. It looks like the thing will go to law anyway, as one of the Mummies concerned looks like there’s nothing she relishes more than the unarmed combat that is the bearpit of the Four Courts. An Spailpín is certain of only one result of this Biffo Barbershop Incident and it is this: if, many years hence, you’re visiting the town of Tullamore and you’re feeling peckish, do not laugh at the appearance of your server when you go snackbox-hunting, irrespective of how so, like, not, you may consider his apparel. For it could very well be that your server is this very young man that’s just chucked his education for the sake of a haircut, and how much greater store can a man put in his appearance than to throw his future away for the sake of it?

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