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March 20, 2007

"Bong Hits 4 Jesus"

Several people on the right think the school did not have the power to suspend a student for unfurling a 14 foot banner on school property reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as TV cameras rolled.

Maybe I'm a cranky authoritarian, but I'm having trouble seeing why the student shouldn't suffer a penalty for advocating drug use on school grounds (and deliberately offending Christians, to boot). School wasn't in session, but he was a student there, acting on school grounds. He has a "right" to make whatever statements he likes? I don't think he does.

In reviewing the Court's transcript and the multitude of reader comments from yesterday, there were two arguments that struck me as fundamental to this case broadly. First, since the Court's decision may set a precedent for the extent to which students can dissent with their schools, will a decision favoring student Frederick create a situation in which teachers are unable to keep order for fear they will be sued? Second, will a decision favoring Principal Morse create a situation in which schools can punish any student who openly disagrees with their "mission," no matter how oppressive that "mission" is?

I doubt the need for such absolutes. It's plainly inappropriate speech for school, and high schools are filled with minors who don't have the panoply of free speech rights as adults, at least not when they're at school.

Wouldn't it be strange if the Supreme Court found the kid had a "right" to this speech, while legal adults in college have far more restrictive rules of "free speech" imposed on them?

By the Way: Christian groups have joined the case, on the ACLU's side, on the theory -- quite plausible -- that any additional power over the restriction of speech on school campuses will be used largely against Christians distributing pamphlets and proselytizing and so forth.

I go the idea the kid was on school grounds from Bryan, who in turn seems to have gotten it from the above article-- which doesn't actually say that, as it turns out. BumperStickerist says he wasn't on school grounds at all, but across the street from the school, which does seem to knock out a big fat leg of my argument.

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posted by Ace at 04:22 PM

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