The Nanny State

In which the nannies hate the First Amendment:

The Supreme Court ruled against a former high school student Monday in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner case — a split decision that limits students’ free speech rights.

Joseph Frederick was 18 when he unveiled the 14-foot paper sign on a public sidewalk outside his Juneau, Alaska, high school in 2002.

Principal Deborah Morse confiscated it and suspended Frederick. He sued, taking his case all the way to the nation’s highest court.

The justices ruled 6-3 that Frederick’s free speech rights were not violated by his suspension over what the majority’s written opinion called a “sophomoric” banner.

Reason Magazine has more.

I guess we will just let the strict constructionists explain their position on this one. Apparently the founders were in favor of every kind of speech except those that got in the way of government aims. If Larry Flynt’s case went to the court right now, he would be a convict.

My support for Roberts and Alito was yet another instance in which I was little more than a useful idiot.

70 replies
  1. 1
    Scott H says:

    Oh, but didn’t you see, they protected the free speech rights of corporations!?

  2. 2
    Dreggas says:

    Of course John, the only offensive speech allowed now is speech that says “Bong Hits For Allah”. Contrary to what the christianists would have you believe what with the whole “war on christmas” and all.

    And to think these shitheads will be on the court for how long?

  3. 3
    Rome Again says:

    My support for Roberts and Alito was yet another instance in which I was little more than a useful idiot.

    OUCH, that had to hurt. I feel for you John. ::hands you a tissue::

  4. 4
    sherifffruitfly says:

    Nice to hear. Of course, it’s 100% meaningless sunshine-blowing-up-arse if it doesn’t affect your future voting.

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    Oh, but John, it gets better. Because, in true Republican style, talking about doing weed in support of our Lord and Savior needs to be stopped, because silly statements like these are a gateway drug.

    However, using unlimited corporate cash to attack Senatorial Candidates needs to be protected, because otherwise Astroturf organizations will loss their rights to free speech.

    Judge Roberts learns how to talk out of both sides of his mouth.

    In the first case,

    The question thus becomes whether a principal may, consistent with the First Amendment , restrict student speech at a school event, when that speech is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use. We hold that she may…

    [Our previous holding in Fraser] demonstrates that “the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings.” Had Fraser delivered the same speech in a public forum outside the school context, it would have been protected. In school, however, Fraser’s First Amendment rights were circumscribed “in light of the special characteristics of the school environment.”

    In the second,

    The test to distinguish constitutionally protected political speech from speech that BCRA may proscribe should provide a safe harbor for those who wish to exercise First Amendment rights. The test should also “reflec[t] our ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.’” A test turning on the intent of the speaker does not remotely fit the bill.
    Far from serving the values the First Amendment is meant to protect, an intent-based test would chill core political speech by opening the door to a trial on every ad within the terms of [the ban], on the theory that the speaker actually intended to affect an election, no matter how compelling the indications that the ad concerned a pending legislative or policy issue. No reasonable speaker would choose to run an ad covered by BCRA if its only defense to a criminal prosecution would be that its motives were pure. An intent-based standard “blankets with uncertainty whatever may be said,” and “offers no security for free discussion.”
    In light of these considerations, a court should find that an ad is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.

    So, as long as you’re talking about abortion and politics with a million dollar ad campaign paid for by corporate lobbyists, speak all you want. But if you’re a high school senior who’s made a banner out of butcher paper and magic markers, you clearly haven’t paid enough money or received enough corporate sponsorship to voice your views.

  6. 6
    rachel says:

    My support for Roberts and Alito was yet another instance in which I was little more than a useful idiot.

    Why? What did you think you were supporting? It’s not like there weren’t any warning signs of what these people were.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    This was my favorite Jesus-related commentary in a while from the Buffalo Beast’s 50 Most Loathsome people list:

    29. Jesus Christ

    Charges: May not have existed, and if he did, probably wasn’t even American, but more of a dark-hued Jewish dwarf. A hygienically challenged hairball who rarely bathed or brushed his teeth. If alive today, he’d appropriately be branded as schizophrenic and disregarded by society. Sermon on the Mount was the very definition of socialism, and subsequently an affront to the self-regulating benevolence of the free market. An appeasing, cheek-turning pussy like this would never cut the mustard in America today.

    Exhibit A: Contrary to prevailing pop theology, absolutely everyone, including the sheepishly devout, will be “left behind” at the apocalypse and forced to endure what biblical scholars estimate to be from 3 to 7 years of “hell on earth” before scoring that golden bus ticket to the gated community in the sky. Kind of a dick move, no?

    Sentence: Second coming completely ignored, as it happens to coincide with Brangelina’s wedding.

  9. 9
    Dreggas says:

    Oh and lest we forget their other decisions. The Supreme blowhards also ruled in favor of allowing government funding of religion. Take that all you bill of rights defenders.

  10. 10
    Pb says:

    rachel,

    Perhaps he took them at their word; silly, I know, to expect Supreme Court nominees to tell the truth when sworn before Congress…

    No Supreme Court nominee could be confirmed these days without paying homage to the judicial doctrine of “stare decisis,” Latin for “to stand by things decided.” Yet experienced listeners have learned to take these professions of devotion to precedent “cum grano salis,” Latin for “with a grain of salt.”

    Both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. assured their Senate questioners at their confirmation hearings that they, too, respected precedent. So why were they on the majority side of a 5-to-4 decision last week declaring that a 45-year-old doctrine excusing people whose “unique circumstances” prevented them from meeting court filing deadlines was now “illegitimate”?

    What does a brother have to do to get an impeachment hearing up in this House?

  11. 11
    Shinobi says:

    The Supreme court: Drugs are bad Mmmmkay.

    In other words, you can say whatever you want as long as it doesn’t disagree with the carefully prepared propaganda that we will be shoving down your throat for the first 18 years of your life.

  12. 12
    Rome Again says:

    No Supreme Court nominee could be confirmed these days without paying homage to the judicial doctrine of “stare decisis,” Latin for “to stand by things decided.” Yet experienced listeners have learned to take these professions of devotion to precedent “cum grano salis,” Latin for “with a grain of salt.”

    Both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. assured their Senate questioners at their confirmation hearings that they, too, respected precedent. So why were they on the majority side of a 5-to-4 decision last week declaring that a 45-year-old doctrine excusing people whose “unique circumstances” prevented them from meeting court filing deadlines was now “illegitimate”?

    But, of course, all those activist judges are liberals, right?

  13. 13
    ThymeZone says:

    So, as long as you’re talking about abortion and politics with a million dollar ad campaign paid for by corporate lobbyists, speak all you want. But if you’re a high school senior who’s made a banner out of butcher paper and magic markers, you clearly haven’t paid enough money or received enough corporate sponsorship to voice your views.

    Faux populism is very tiresome.

    School is a place where the first priority is control over the inmates. Lest safety, and learning, be degraded, you see. Have ya tried keeping the peace among crowds of teenagers lately? The rules are different there, and should be. If anything, they should be tighter.

    As soon as you take away the authority of the school to tell a kid to shut up, you may as well shut the thing down.

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    School is a place where the first priority is control over the inmates.

    Is it a coincidence that the same guys who designed Texas schools in the 70s and 80s also designed the prisons? No. No it is not.

  15. 15
    ThymeZone says:

    Is it a coincidence that the same guys who designed Texas schools in the 70s and 80s also designed the prisons? No. No it is not.

    That just might be the most idiotic comment I ever saw here.

  16. 16
    Andrew says:

    It appears that drugs are a recognized exception to every amendment to the Constitution. No 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, etc. protections if you’re talking about or slinging pot.

  17. 17
    ThymeZone says:

    The case isn’t about drugs, it’s about whether free, ridiculous speech by students is protected in a high school.

  18. 18
    Rome Again says:

    Is it a coincidence that the same guys who designed Texas schools in the 70s and 80s also designed the prisons? No. No it is not.

    I never went to school in Texas, but where I was, I had absolutely no problem walking in the front door and walking right out the back.

  19. 19
    canuckistani says:

    My support for Roberts and Alito was yet another instance in which I was little more than a useful idiot.

    Given the scorn that the Republican policymakers have for their own supporters’ blogs, you’re excused from the “useful” clause of your admission.

  20. 20
    Rome Again says:

    Wow, to see the tables turned and John Cole arguing for freedoms TZ doesn’t agree with. This is truly an interesting day.

  21. 21
    Andrew says:

    The case isn’t about drugs, it’s about whether free, ridiculous speech by students is protected in a high school.

    If you read the opinion, it is indeed about drugs. It’s questionable whether or not the individual was technically at a school function.

  22. 22
    Mr Furious says:

    I’m with TZ. Not all speech is free or protected in a school, nor should it be. And spare me the clarification that this kid was across the street. He was dismissed from school to attend this school-sponsored event.

    He was a smart-ass, got caught, and punished. Period. This should never have been a federal case, frankly.

    That said, the court’s reasoning is fucking retarded. “Drugs” should not have entered the discussion.

  23. 23
    ThymeZone says:

    No, Adnrew, unless Roberts is misquoted above, it is as I said:

    The question thus becomes whether a principal may, consistent with the First Amendment , restrict student speech at a school event,

    It doesn’t matter what it is about the speech that is objectionable. That’s quite secondary. Of course, read it as you wish. If you think that describing the objectionable aspect of the speech is what the case is about, then you probably think that we’ll have a parade of these to try all the various objectionable ideas out on the schools and then the courts, right?

    So, bong hits are out, but we can say some other stupid thing, right? Like Gay Sex For Jesus. That would be okay, right Andrew? Or, Corn Hole For Jesus. Nothing wrong with corn, is there? We can turn it into a game that can go on forever, teenagers versus the Court. Fun.

  24. 24
    Teak111 says:

    Doesn’t seem like a bad decision to me. If the kid had that sign in any other place but a school, his FARs are protected. I don’t see this as some crazy rightwing hang em high til they die decision. It may be a harbinger of things to come and I don’t doubt it is.
    Now, what’s this about how smoking pot gets you closer to Jesa?

  25. 25
    ThymeZone says:

    John Cole arguing for freedoms

    John Cole works in a college. There is a reason why they don’t call high school “college.”

    Let’s see Cole handle crowds of rowdy twelve-year-olds and never tell any of them to shut up.

  26. 26
    Andrei says:

    The case isn’t about drugs, it’s about whether free, ridiculous speech by students is protected in a high school.

    Free speech has nothing to do with quality. The whole Larry Flynt case already proved that. Free speech is free speech, ridiculous or not.

    IMHO, if a person at the age of 18 can be sent off to die for his or her country, then they get all the rights gauranteed to every citizen of this country, high school or not. Don’t want 18 year olds mouthing off? Then raise the age one can join and fight in the military to match the drinking age of 21 that most states use. Otherwise, if they want to tell the Principal of their high school to go fuck himself, then I’m fine with that.

  27. 27
    Don says:

    Yes, because telling children in a class to be quiet and quit disrupting things is clearly the same as holding up a banner outside school when the guiding order from the school was “stand here.”

    My favorite (ha ha) thing in the decision is this limp effort to differentiate between statements about drug laws and policy and encouraging an illegal activity. Let’s put aside several hundred years of willful disobedience to make a point, including that whole thing about tea and a harbor. Not to mention that by this standard it would have been okay for a student to say “you should be able to sit anywhere on the bus!” but not encourage Rosa Parks to sit up front.

  28. 28
    Tony Alva says:

    ThymeZone’s right. The rules are different for high and grade schools. I don’t ever recall a time in my life or while I was in school that teachers and administration didn’t have the authority to demand a student change a t-shirt, or take down a potentially offensive poster, button, hat, etc… I was asked many times during my highschool years to remove dope leaf buttons, patches, etc… This isn’t college, it’s highschool and everyday they get more and more out of control. As a kid, I dreaded the whole idea of uniforms and such. As a parent, I’d vote for them in a heartbeat for all the reasons stated in this case.

    I can’t imagine the dread of having to take a seat behind a desk in a classroom and look across it to a bunch of hormone enraged teens sporting Calvin pissing on (insert whatever here) shirts and beleive you me, I did PLENTY of bong hits for Jesus and others back in the day before I wised up.

    School age kids have NEVER had total 1st amendment rights while at school or at school functions. While there have been many others, I really don’t see this as being a Bush nominee f up at all.

    Chalk it up to one of those things you might feel different about once you’re a parent.

  29. 29
    Zifnab says:

    That just might be the most idiotic comment I ever saw here.

    Swing by the Jester dormatory at the University of Texas sometime. The thing is literally a series of cell-blocks. Go down the West Mall and enjoy the giant, ugly, granite blocks running through the center. These were constructed within five years of each other, expressly to combat student riots that had plagued the school in the 60s.

    Think I’m crazy? Stupid? I think you’re a bit naive.

  30. 30
    Mr Furious says:

    Rumor at my college (built in the early 70s) was that the one-inch-plus space under all the dorm room doors was to allow for tear gas penetration…

    Just sayin’

  31. 31
    Andrew says:

    So, bong hits are out, but we can say some other stupid thing, right? Like Gay Sex For Jesus. That would be okay, right Andrew? Or, Corn Hole For Jesus. Nothing wrong with corn, is there? We can turn it into a game that can go on forever, teenagers versus the Court. Fun.

    Yes, seemingly a student could. The issue here was approving of drug use. A clever student could say “Overturn Bong Hits 4 Jesus” and since that doesn’t advocate drug use, it should be allowed.

    I’m all for gay sex with Jesus, and I don’t agree with the decision. I’m just saying what I think the court thought.

    (I heard that the student was actually skipping school that day and so was actually not technically attending the off-campus school function.)

  32. 32
    Andrew says:

    Let’s see Cole handle crowds of rowdy twelve-year-olds and never tell any of them to shut up.

    He would probably give them martinis and have them play World of Warcraft all day. I can see him being a fairly popular teacher.

  33. 33
    Zifnab says:

    Chalk it up to one of those things you might feel different about once you’re a parent.

    The way I see it, the litmus test for “can a high schooler say what he wants on school hours” is whether or not he’s disrupting the education of his classmates. Because students are compelled to attend school, they don’t have the option of avoiding each others’ expression of free speech. Thus, the freedom to say what you want ends when you can use said speech to harass or intimidate someone who can’t escape you. If a guy waves a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” flag from his front lawn, I can walk away from his front lawn. If he wears it on his shirt, I can’t leave the classroom.

    The reason we give school teachers and administrators the power to tell a kid to shut up is to quell the harassment or intimidation one student can inflict on another.

    So, was “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” harassing or intimidating anybody? No. The phrase was harmless. And when you can punish a kid for waving “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” – a throughly nonsensical phrase meaning nothing and addressing no one – you can basically punish any kid for saying anything at any time. You just have to twist it right.

  34. 34
    Pooh says:

    TZ would have a good point if the BH4J sign was actually displayed on school grounds. But it wasn’t, so he doesn’t. Typical Monday afternoon BJ pageview churner.

  35. 35
    binzinster says:

    “My support for Roberts and Alito was yet another instance in which I was little more than a useful idiot.”

    [Plato told]

    plato told

    him:he couldn’t
    believe it(jesus

    told him;he
    wouldn’t believe
    it)lao

    tsze
    certainly told
    him,and general
    (yes

    mam)
    sherman;
    and even
    (believe it
    or

    not)you
    told him:i told
    him;we told him
    (he didn’t believe it,no

    sir)it took
    a nipponized bit of
    the old sixth

    avenue
    el;in the top of his head:to tell

    him

    —e.e. Cummings

    Guess it took a ‘conservativized’ bit of the old strict constructionism in the top of your head to tell you.

    I don’t think you’re an idiot, but you have lent your usefulness to these dangerously undemocratic fools.

    At what point does one pass from ‘useful idiot’ to ‘enabler’? I would say that point in time was 2004. All the warning signs were there by then. Only a real idiot can credibly claim to have been unaware of the present administration’s motives after that.

  36. 36
    Beej says:

    TZ is dead right. I was a junior high-high school teacher for 12 years. Don’t kid yourselves that this kid was making a political point. The odds on that are about 1,000 to 1. I’m betting (based on lots of experience with the ways in which kids who have to be in school try to stick it to the authority figures)that this was, instead, a way to get all his buds and the rest of the class excited and laughing, thus becoming far more entertaining than whatever it was they were supposed to be doing. The rules for schools are different. Just check out the U.S. Supreme Court case of New Jersey v. T.L.O. for the court’s reasoning on search and seizure in a public school. Incidentally, you will notice that TLO was decided long before GWB was elected. It’s not that I think Roberts and Alito are going to turn out to be anything other than the right wing “yes” men Bush wanted, but I don’t think this case really demonstrates that.

  37. 37
    Beej says:

    Incidentally Zif, I think you could make a case that the kid waving this banner was hurting or intimidating someone. I had a student in a very small town high school who belonged to a small, very strict Christian church. This in a town that was primarily Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist. This girl took all kinds of guff because of her beliefs. And it wasn’t as if she tried to shove them down anyone’s throat, she didn’t. It was just that she dressed differtly, and didn’t wear makeup, and didn’t talk trash, etc. I have no trouble at all envisioning some jerk kid waving a BH4J banner at her just to show her how “weird” she was. Are you sure that wasn’t what was happening? I’ll bet the principal knew more about the actual circumstances than we do. That’s one of the reasons why the rules are different for schools.

  38. 38
    Rome Again says:

    Question for you TZ, if the ACLU was part of this fight, who would you be rooting for? Just curious.

    I’m not taking a stand on this one way or the other. I think there are ambiguities (an 18 year old kid, an event held on a public sidewalk, a possibility that the school didn’t truly sanction this event so much as make the time for students to witness it) and there are also behaviors which should be discouraged in youth. I can’t say what’s cut and dried here, so therefore I won’t even try. But you have, so I am just curious, what would be your standing if the ACLU had fought on the side of this student?

  39. 39
    John Cole says:

    He would probably give them martinis and have them play World of Warcraft all day.

    Might as well prepare them to be college freshman.

  40. 40
    NYT says:

    It is now the conservative position that we shouldn’t complain about any executive branch expenditure as it is complete fiction that it causes any individual taxpayer measureable harm.
    Conservatives are at war on the war on government waste fraud and abuse. They have always been at war on the war on government waste fraud and abuse.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....id=topnews

    “The court ruled that the suit, by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and three of its taxpaying members, could not go forward because ordinary taxpayers do not have standing to challenge the expenditures at issue.”

    Given the size of the federal budget, “it is a complete fiction to argue that an unconstitutional federal expenditure causes an individual federal taxpayer any measurable economic harm,” Alito said.

  41. 41
    Krista says:

    Martinis? Those are some damn sophisticated college freshmen, John. I seem to recall eschewing martinis in favour of 7-Up Slammers made with Prince Igor vodka, and 2-for-1 rye and gingers during Power Hour at The Palace.

    Then again, this was the mid-nineties…prior to the advent of all those great flavoured martinis, so perhaps the young ‘uns are indeed drinking those on a Thursday night…

  42. 42
    Andrew says:

    I’m really enjoying all of the serious grey-haired commentators on the News Hour repeating the phrase “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” over and over and over.

  43. 43
    jrg says:

    Sheesh, WTF do these judges think “On High” means? Just because weed is not mentioned, they assume it means “High on something other than pot”?

    An ancient bong has been found near the Garden Tomb, where Jesus is believed to be buried. Sure, the “scientific experts” say that carbon dating indicates it was made in a high school pottery class circa 1972, but creation science has brought us great insight into the problems with “scientific experts” and “carbon dating”.

    “Jesus was on high”. The bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.

  44. 44
    tBone says:

    I seem to recall eschewing martinis in favour of 7-Up Slammers made with Prince Igor vodka, and 2-for-1 rye and gingers during Power Hour at The Palace.

    That sounds pretty upscale to me. We subsisted mostly on MD 20/20 and Natural Light (when it was on sale).

    Thankfully, Ramen noodles don’t hurt much when you throw them up.

  45. 45
    Krista says:

    MD 20/20? What on earth is that? It sounds like some sort of fertilizer or industrial lubricant?

  46. 46
    Andrew says:

    MD 20/20? What on earth is that? It sounds like some sort of fertilizer or industrial lubricant?

    That is actually quite an accurate description of Mad Dog.

  47. 47
    Krista says:

    Well, I very well may have had some of that, albeit unwittingly. I did attend many a Purple Jesus party…

  48. 48
    jrg says:

    MD 20/20? What on earth is that? It sounds like some sort of fertilizer or industrial lubricant?

    One of the funny things about MD is to “not remember having it” is not always an indication of “never having had it”.

  49. 49
    coolcajun says:

    I am not sure if I am totally concerned now with Supreme Court decision. As long as it does not creep into other Free Speech areas I am ok with it.

    I was watching CNN’s coverage of the issue and who of all people is taking the school’s side of the case: Ken Starr.

  50. 50
    Rome Again says:

    Well, I very well may have had some of that, albeit unwittingly. I did attend many a Purple Jesus party…

    Really, I had a Purple Jesus party in my parents brand new 10,000 square foot house when I was 17 (don’t ever leave your brand new house in the hands of a 17 year old and go away for several days). The brand new olive green carpet ended up with a purple stain in the upstairs hallway leading to the air hockey table room.

    We ate spaghetti at 6 am.

    Were you there? LMAO

  51. 51
    Rome Again says:

    I am not sure if I am totally concerned now with Supreme Court decision. As long as it does not creep into other Free Speech areas I am ok with it.

    I was watching CNN’s coverage of the issue and who of all people is taking the school’s side of the case: Ken Starr.

    How about their decision on Faith-based initiatives?

  52. 52
    Pb says:

    I’ll bet the principal knew more about the actual circumstances than we do.

    I’ll bet the principal knew less about what was going on here than we do — and that’s generally why these things happen in the first place.

  53. 53
    jg says:

    What’s a Purple Jesus party?

  54. 54

    […] Update:  John Cole at Balloon Juice, a conservative who, like Sully, was a little late to the “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” party, sums it up well: I guess we will just let the strict constructionists explain their position on this one. Apparently the founders were in favor of every kind of speech except those that got in the way of government aims. If Larry Flynt’s case went to the court right now, he would be a convict. […]

  55. 55

    […] Update:  John Cole at Balloon Juice, a conservative who, like Sully, was a little late to the “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” party, sums it up well: I guess we will just let the strict constructionists explain their position on this one. Apparently the founders were in favor of every kind of speech except those that got in the way of government aims. If Larry Flynt’s case went to the court right now, he would be a convict. […]

  56. 56
    Niket says:

    I haven’t read the comments, so this may be discussed already.

    I personally don’t think its a violation of freedom of expression when we are talking about a school. The school authorities are responsible for the well-being of kids, most of whom aren’t adults yet. Reasonable restrictions on freedoms should be expected. A majority of the kids are not old enough (legally) or mature enough to make their own minds… “reasonable” restrictions do not violate the first amendment rights.

    If you are going to make the school authorities responsible for the kids, you have to give some leeway to Ms. Morse to give detensions. A temporary suspension is not like throwing someone in a prison (rather its more like giving a two week break from the prison :)).

  57. 57
    Keith says:

    Martinis? Those are some damn sophisticated college freshmen, John

    Ah, but you forget that the modern martini is just a fruity cocktail served in a martini glass. Buttery Nippletini, Screwdrivertini, Bellinitini…no olives required.

    That being said, if they weren’t in school or weren’t expected to be in school, I strongly disagree with the decision (and regardless, I’m disappointed the SCOTUS decided to dwell so much on the content of the message). If they were let out en masse, then I can kinda see where they have some jurisdiction, but otherwise it worries me for my future kids to think that schools can begin to think they have some power over them 24/7.

  58. 58

    […] Behold Liberal Thought, in All Its Glory Filed under: Democratic Idiocy, Justice/Law, Defending America, RINOs, Supreme Court, Faith — Sisyphus @ 5:32 am RINO John Cole, upset that the Supreme Court has ruled children cannot insult Jesus by making drug references to Him in schools: I guess we will just let the strict constructionists explain their position on this one. Apparently the founders were in favor of every kind of speech except those that got in the way of government aims. If Larry Flynt’s case went to the court right now, he would be a convict. […]

  59. 59
    AkaDad says:

    If you don’t take bong hits for Jesus, you are rejecting God’s creation, which is clearly blasphemous…

  60. 60
    Punchy says:

    TZ would have a good point if the BH4J sign was actually displayed on school grounds. But it wasn’t, so he doesn’t. Typical Monday afternoon BJ pageview churner.

    Bingo. They weren’t on school grounds. Can a school now punish the student for wearing a similar-phrased T-shirt to the mall? Where does the school’s power over a student start and end, considering he was off-campus?

  61. 61
    Zifnab says:

    Where does the school’s power over a student start and end, considering he was off-campus?

    He was across the street, during school hours, having specifically been released from class to watch the parade go by. If there was every an incident in which a student was “not on school grounds” but still falling under school rules, this was it. I’m not even going to try and argue that.

    I have no trouble at all envisioning some jerk kid waving a BH4J banner at her just to show her how “weird” she was. Are you sure that wasn’t what was happening?

    Unless the girl was the Olympic Torch Runner or the TV camera woman, I seriously doubt it. The kid came right out and said he was being a camera whore. And the embarassment it cause the principle was almost definitely the direct link to his suspension, not any annonymous high school student with stringent religious beliefs. If the kid had unfurled a banner reading “Go Pope!”, I doubt he would have been punished for offending protestants or mormons. Although, under this ruling, I suppose if the principle could have massaged the message into a pro-incense, and thus pro-pot, propoganda, he still could have been punished.

  62. 62
    Mikkel says:

    If you read the ruling it’s obvious it is a bad one. There are people on this board defending a school’s right to control the students. Fine. Whatever.

    The point is that the Court referenced the Tinker case where they found that wearing black armbands as protest was protected because it did not “materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school.” Then they also talked about another case (Fraser) that upheld the suspension of a student for giving an explicit sexual metaphor during a speech. Their rationale for this one is that since Fraser didn’t involve explicitly applying the “disruption” burden (although I fail to see how it would pass that at all) then they didn’t need to apply it for this one.

    As far as I can tell, they never found the banner to be disruptive so they couldn’t use the Tinker definition.

    Thus, they more or less ruled that it is a student’s right to do things that aren’t disruptive, unless they are “special” things that of course aren’t codified in any way. The conclusion literally says “Drugs are bad, mmmmkay….” as the reason for this ruling and nothing else.

    The point of whether schools should be able to restrict speech immaterial to the ruling completely, because they just created a “I know it when I see it” exception while still saying that the school has to allow certain kinds of speech.

  63. 63
    Jimmmmm says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, John. You’re hardly useful…

    (kidding)

  64. 64
    Rome Again says:

    What’s a Purple Jesus party?

    jg: Grape Juice and Everclear.

    Of course, I guess you could substitute the grape juice with Mad Dog and it would be even MORE powerful. OMG!

  65. 65
    Don says:

    TZ is dead right. I was a junior high-high school teacher for 12 years. Don’t kid yourselves that this kid was making a political point.

    So what? Do we really need to give you the 7th grade civics lecture on how we allow all speech, even if it’s fucking retarded, because otherwise we enter into the circumstance where others are deciding what speech is ‘worthwhile’ and what speech isn’t?

    Letting people engage in speech that is stupid or uninformed or pointless is both necessary and valuable. Cutting corners like this and claiming that there’s a material difference in the kid promoting an illegal act and protesting a law enters us into far too fine a point in determining what speech is worth protecting and what isn’t.

  66. 66

    The issue wasn’t whether or not high school students have unbridled free speech. That issue has long since been decided; the do not. Schools have been given great latitude in deciding what is or is not permissible speech. This has occurred for far longer than Bush has been in office. You can debate about whether or not that stance is correct (personally, I do not, although you could make a fairly decent argument that a public school is a governemnt entity of sorts, which would raise the 1st amendment issue). What I have a problem with was the court deciding that a function attended by a student off campus- while skipping school- constituted a school function. This seems to me to be quite a reach. In fact, the only way that you can come to such a conclusion, in my opinion, is if you work backwards from the decision from which you had already made. And with regards to drug related cases and SCOTUS, such circumstances are a long held feature, not a bug. Thurgood Marshall was fairly vigorous about trying to prevent drug related cases from coming before the court. He said something to the effect that he wouldn’t give any druggie a break. It’s been a long while since I saw that particular quotation, so I can’t recall it exactly.

    As for another argument that a previous commenter made castigating the court for not “respecting” precedent, well, I would say that there is quite a difference between respecting precedent and being bound by it. If there wasn’t, dreadful decisions such as Dred Scott and Plessy would still hold sway today. And I kind of doubt that anyone here would like that.

    Anyway, I think that the decision was wrong for the reasons that I mentioned. But those of you who have come to view anything which you oppose as being more evidence that Lucifer has set up shop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should try visiting a different optometrist. Your prescription is not quite right.

  67. 67

    A couple of more points. Since you seem bent on beating up Roberts for a particular decision, you might to at least want to comment on another decision that I believe is even more important. To wit, the weakening of the abominable McCain-Feingold:

    “Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply because the issues may also be pertinent in an election,” Roberts wrote. “Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.”

    Now with regards to my previous comment about the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case, I’ll excerpt a little bit from Patterico:

    All nine Justices agree that the principal’s actions took place in a school-related context. They all agree that the school context justifies a higher degree of governmental intrusion than is permissible in the usual First Amendment case. But they disagree as to the specific reasons that the principal’s actions should not result in liability.

    The majority believes that the First Amendment simply is not implicated by speech that, in its view, advocates illegal drug use in a school context.

    Let me reiterate: I don’t believe that it should have been considered a school-related context. However, despite your off the cuff, pissed off comment which seems to lay the blame entirely at the feet of Roberts and Alito, all nine justices agreed that it was. Once you reach that decision, precedent gives you the authority to regulate the speech.

    One final excerpt from Patterico, and it concerns the other justice that you seem to loathe:

    Justices Alito and Kennedy concur with the majority but caution that the speech restrictions here are at the outer limit of what they would allow school principals to control.

  68. 68
    Beej says:

    No, Don, whether the kid was making a political point or not is not the main issue, nor did I intend it as such. However, now that you mention it, even the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that “political speech” gets more protection under the 1st Amendment than, say, “commercial speech”, and some kinds of speech, such as “obscenity” (whatever that is) get no protection at all. So maybe that is a minor issue. Even political speech, the most protected type of speech, is subject to time, place, and manner restrictions (you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater).
    But the major issue here is that the rules are different for students who are in school. This kid may have been standing on a street when he unfurled his banner, but he had been allowed to go there by his school, during school hours. Was this a school activity where students were still subject to the rules that apply when they are inside the school building? I think a very valid argument can be made that it was.

    As for the emphasis the majority of the Court places on the content of the speech, yes, that bothers me. And it was unnecessary to go there. That bothers me even more.

  69. 69
    The Other Steve says:

    My support for Roberts and Alito was yet another instance in which I was little more than a useful idiot.

    The problem wasn’t supporting Roberts and Alito.

    It was 2000 and 2004 which allowed roberts and alito to materialize.

  70. 70

    […] Queue the 50 ‘liberals’ who cheered the decision last week in the comments section of this thread as ‘the right thing for the kids.’ […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Queue the 50 ‘liberals’ who cheered the decision last week in the comments section of this thread as ‘the right thing for the kids.’ […]

  2. […] Behold Liberal Thought, in All Its Glory Filed under: Democratic Idiocy, Justice/Law, Defending America, RINOs, Supreme Court, Faith — Sisyphus @ 5:32 am RINO John Cole, upset that the Supreme Court has ruled children cannot insult Jesus by making drug references to Him in schools: I guess we will just let the strict constructionists explain their position on this one. Apparently the founders were in favor of every kind of speech except those that got in the way of government aims. If Larry Flynt’s case went to the court right now, he would be a convict. […]

  3. […] Update:  John Cole at Balloon Juice, a conservative who, like Sully, was a little late to the “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” party, sums it up well: I guess we will just let the strict constructionists explain their position on this one. Apparently the founders were in favor of every kind of speech except those that got in the way of government aims. If Larry Flynt’s case went to the court right now, he would be a convict. […]

  4. […] Update:  John Cole at Balloon Juice, a conservative who, like Sully, was a little late to the “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” party, sums it up well: I guess we will just let the strict constructionists explain their position on this one. Apparently the founders were in favor of every kind of speech except those that got in the way of government aims. If Larry Flynt’s case went to the court right now, he would be a convict. […]

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