Start preparing the eulogy for your right to freedom of speech.
Today the Supreme Court ruled against a former Alaskan high school student over a case about a banner that read, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” — limiting students’ free speech rights in the process.
The student in question is Joseph Frederick, who in 2002, unveiled the 14-foot paper sign on a public sidewalk outside his Juneau, Alaska, high school.
The school’s principal Deborah Morse confiscated it and suspended Frederick.
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.
“It was reasonable for (the principal) to conclude that the banner promoted illegal drug use– and that failing to act would send a powerful message to the students in her charge,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s majority.
Roberts was supported by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito.
Leave it to Scalia, Thomas, and Alito to champion the First Amendment. Not at all surprised that Kenneth Starr argued for the principal. Glad he’s found a new way to be a thorn in someone’s side.
The larger issue at hand is at what discretion should schools be allowed to limit messages they perceive to advocate drug use.
Perception is a powerful thing, isn’t it? Doesn’t matter if Frederick maintains that his banner was merely a joke. What matters is that that they’re so concerned about drug abuse in this country that they’ll punish anyone that dares to reference any type of drug. Let’s limit the rights people died for under the guise of concern for our own personal well being.
They’re limiting students’ free speech now so they won’t have to worry about them in the future. I mean, we wouldn’t want our students getting any ideas from those misguided, government-protesting youth in England and France, now would we?
This isn’t a far cry from the type of language that can be easily misconstrued as pro-terrorism under the Patriot Act. You know that type of language, right? The kind that can win you the grand prize that is a free trip to lovely little naval base in Cuba…and a even freer daily ass whopping.
Take this all as a sign of what’s to come. Thank you, supporters of George W. Bush.