The school board down in Johnston County has a problem: Every time fourteen-year-old Ariana Iacono walks through the door of her school with her ‘stud’ in her pierced nose she gets suspended – but she simply won’t give up. She goes home, serves out her suspension then demurely returns to school with the stud in place and gets suspended again.
And in addition to being stubborn Miss Iacono’s creative: She’s filed a petition asking the school board to stop suspending her because, she says, nose piercing is part of her religion because she’s a member of the Church of Body Modification – which must have left the school board members shaking their heads thinking, Ah, teenagers!
But, now, the board has a bigger problem. One might have hoped the ACLU would pass on battling for the religious rights of nose piercers and told Miss Iacono, Look, we’re sorry but we have more important battles to fight – like preserving the rights of terrorists. But it turns out to the ACLU the Church of Body Modification is every bit as real a church as Lutherans or Presbyterians, so its Legal Council has fired off a missive to the school board announcing nose piercing is protected by the Constitution.
Now, this is a more vexing problem than you’d think. You’d think any judge sitting on a bench looking down at an ACLU lawyer arguing nose piercing is a religion would just laugh and say, Go on. Get out of here. But it turns out if a judge determines Miss Iacono’s claim she’s a devotee to the Church of Nose Piercing is sincere (rather than a scam to fool the School Board) she’s got a case.
Which seems to defy common-sense but, logic aside, any ACLU lawyer worth his salt knows to argue, Look, judge, when James Madison wrote the First Amendment he told government to keep its nose out of religion. He said he didn’t want government deciding what a religion and what’s not because he figured government would get it wrong, and even if he never dreamed one day folks would be worshipping nose piercing, if you can tell Miss Iacono her religion’s not a religion what’s to stop some other judge from telling Presbyterians the same thing.
Which in a bizarre way sounds logical too, unless you’re the judge sitting there thinking if you rule nose-piercing is an act of piety it’s the same as saying any fool thing an over-heated brain can dream up is a religion.