There was a food fight about to break out in the school cafeteria between those who liked steamed dumplings and those who liked spaghetti. The steamed dumpling side affixed signs promoting steamed dumplings to the ends of their tables, which hung off the side and were made to face the rest of the cafeteria. I thought, funny how it faced everybody but themselves. The spaghetti side did the same with their signs. At first, both sides continued to eat their favorites without yelling at one another, knowing their flags were performing a kind of silent messaging words would not be needed for. But I knew this wasn’t going to end well. A member of the steamed dumpling side approached me. “I just wanted to inform you that their sign is an aggressive retaliation of our sign,” she said. Next came the other side, the spaghetti side with their campaign speech. A member of that table approached me. “Their creating polarization by putting up a flag like that. If that’s what they want we’re just accommodating them,” he said. The flags were starting to be used as reactionary scapegoating vehicles. I told an adult about it and they came over and took the spaghetti side down, it having been the second, more reactionary side. But when they walked away the spaghetti side just put up another flag, the language of the sign this time suggesting the spaghetti lovers needed to be taken more seriously by the dumpling side, or face further provocation. Maybe they just felt more scared. I had to do something. First, I went to each table and explained that while I was happy to see them expressing themselves and partially supporting inclusivity, the manner in which they were doing it had escalated to something inappropriate for a school environment and was not heading in an inclusive or even safe direction. Second, I asked both tables to take down their flags, which were clearly directed at everybody but themselves, since they were functioning now more as protest devices than forms of student expression, and reflecting the kind of divisiveness and aggression that’s been the norm all over the news as of late. Third, I explained that, while I support free expression, there was a place and time to do such things in a politically safe and permissible way, one that resisted characterization, as in a debate class, marketing exercise or student council run, where the expectation is that bias would be delivered in a more persuasive and perhaps coercive, but not vindictive manner. When in democratic fashion, they both agreed to drop their flags and celebrate their differences amongst themselves, they thanked me for being so understanding, and told me they were better able to respect the choices of the other side, knowing each wasn’t trying to say which side, and in this case, which food choice was better, smarter, and more worthy of their stomachs. They never became friends, but at least they respected each other. Then the next day a colleague came up to me and told me she heard what I said and didn’t approve because other schools were allowing that kind of political behavior. I wanted to give her the “If someone jumped off the Brooklyn bridge, does that mean you should do it,” response, as well as inform her of the pitfalls of employing comparative psychologies for understanding anything intimately, but I held my tongue, mostly, knowing draping my homerun words off the edge of my mouth like a flag of blame meant for anybody who thought differently than me about something I deeply believed in, and which I also personally identified with, would, even if I was right, only escalate matters, and lead to a full blown word fight that would most assuredly affect our job performance and land us both in human resources where we’d both most likely lose.