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June 25, 2007

Supreme Court: "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" not protected

Well, Morse v. Frederick is officially cached....

The War on (some people's) Drugs trumps the First Amendment.

I like Chris Weigant's suggested alternative phrasing: "Legalize bong hits 4 Jesus."

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» Morse v. Frederick re: BONG HiTS 4JESUS from cannablog
I have not yet read the opinions in this case, but I have been informed of the decision of the court. I think the court made the correct decision under the facts as presented. Because I advocate for the end of cannabis prohibition, it would have been m... [Read More]

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And if that doesn't work, maybe "Legalize 'Legalize Bong Hits 4 Jesus'". Lather, rinse, repeat.

"My Goddess says: 'Legalize "Legalize Bong Hits 4 Jesus"'"...

And so it goes. Until the Concerned Grammarians for America step in to address the profligate use of punctuation.

I think it's a Canadian (British) versus American punctuation thing, Lindsay. You live in America, so for once in your damnable liberal life, do the patriotic thing and use double quotes before singles. Don't make me contact Homeland Security.

But to return to the topic at hand, I guess I should go out to my front yard and take down my "Crack Hits 4 Christ" sign. Besides, I think it might be the cause of all the bricks getting thrown through my front windows. And the death threats. And the crackheads sleeping on my lawn.

Speaking of punctuational weenieness, I just now discovered that The King's English (2nd ed) is now online.

"Welcome to the RealWorld, she said to me... condescendingly."

So now you have to be over 18 to engage in satire?

"The Drug War" has already been used to trash the Fourth Amendment. Now the First Amendment has been trashed by authoritian bastards who hate freedom and adore things with the word "War" in their name.

I’m no lawyer and certainly no constitutional scholar, but as I understand it, the gist of the new BushCo, supreme court decisions today goes something like: The president can dump any amount of money in whatever church collection plate he wants and you can’t do a god-damned thing about it. Free speech exists without restrictions for those with deep pockets who want to buy TV time for their favorite cause/candidate on election eve, but not for a high school student on his own time off of school property. (Who BTW has more sense of humor that the total sum of every berobed GOP-appointed dufus squatting on the federal bench.) And, in my favorite decision today, the court has stripped US Fish and Wildlife of any meaningful role in protecting endangered species in what will amount to thousands of permitting applications.

A special round of applause is due for all the assholes that voted for Ralph Nader, or didn’t vote, in some sort of “what if they held an election and nobody came” snit. Thanks. Thanks for the next forty years that we’ll have to live with this court.
A toast, and another, and another, and another, . . . till you choke.

John Roberts believes in the free speech of a rich man who wants to spend unlimited amounts buying TV ads against Democratic candidates.

But if a government official, a school principal, rips down a banner NOT ON SCHOOL PROPERTY, that is fine for John Roberts.

I loved how the minority dissent actually "got it." And they said that, essentially, the dumbest kid in the school would have "gotten it," too. Which leaves the majority on the court--that didn't get it--demoted to beneath the dumbest kid in the school.

So I guess "Acid for Allah" would be out of the question.

Sorry but I would agree with both the court and the school here.

What, exactly, do you agree with? That "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" advocates drug use? That schools can arbitrarily decide to interpret student speech as being contrary to the educational mission of the school? That authorities in schools can suppress this speech off the school grounds? That it's wrong to thumb your nose at The Authorities?

Chris Weigant's phrasing is too safe. I think somebody ought to make another test case with an exact quotation of "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS." Because an argument could be made--nay, should be made--that the Court itself has made "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" into protected political speech--one can no longer display that phrase without signifying First Amendment issues. One big problem with regulating speech is that language is not precise, and that its meanings are not fixed. The majority acknowledged the ambiguity of "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" but ruled against it nonetheless. The dissent virtually mocked the majority for doing so. Now the majority needs have that ambiguity thrown in its face 10-fold.

What, exactly, do you agree with? That "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" advocates drug use? That schools can arbitrarily decide to interpret student speech as being contrary to the educational mission of the school? That authorities in schools can suppress this speech off the school grounds? That it's wrong to thumb your nose at The Authorities?

May I help?
Try, that schools have the right to organize an Olympic sports passing right in front of the school; that they have the right to permit responsible kids out of school at that time; that they are allowed to take down banners that draw attention away from the assembled event that advocate illegal drug use.

In short, don't stick your drug message in my kid's face on traditional school time. Why didn't the kid go down the parade route, away from the school, if he just wanted to express free speech? Because he wanted the attention of the assembled students, on what is traditionally school time to educate.

A few years later,
the kid is busted for selling pot at a small college in TX on the border. Why can't he put up a sign advertising his wares in high school? Because it's off limits. Do that elsewhere in town, on your own time, if it's all about speech. The school must maintain some control, or else it's a mockery of anything they DO try to show respect for. Drugs and the Olympic message don't mix, and no soon-to-be drug-selling punk has the "right" to promote this particular message at such an event.

The majority be not so dumb as you think. This kid = dumb. Not helping the cause. Not really about the cause, I'd bet. About him. See, when you allow all the stupid messages at any time to hijack such an event ostensibly organized around other "messages", you dilute beyond all recognition. Making this stupid kid out to be some shining example of student free speech rights = stupid.

Remember the gay rights protesters in Boston who wanted to march in the Hibernian parade. That wasn't a stupid message; they had a legit point and wanted to specifically address the audience assembled there. No go. Unanimously. Organize their own event = sure. Force their message on another event, (probably to the point of causing disruption perhaps physical), nope. It's similar really.

Let that kid work for it. Obviously, he doesn't like the school rules (no truancy, no drugs, no disruptions, etc.) So drop out already. You're 18. If you don't like the suspension and disciplinary rules that are necessary for everybody's kid to be educated without the next student over hijacking the content and the time, shove off. It's a big world out there, plenty of places to make your free speech statements but you might have to work for it. That's a good lesson for high schoolers to learn.

All you folks trying to make some big issue out of disruption are making the kids soft. Betcha like Andy Warhola "art" too... *sigh*

Oh and guess what. There really are high schoolers stupid enough to start smoking (or buying which is where the real trouble comes in) weed because of a silly sign like that. Peer pressure, the imprimateur of "cool"... much better to have them on something healthy like the Olympic ideals and traditions. And I think advocating alcohol abuse/use for minors should draw the same disciplinary actions on school time. This was no level-headed classroom discussion; this was probably one step short of selling your wares by kids who probably came to that parade at the school late because they were smoking. Can't have it both ways, and the schools have to retain some authority for the sake of all the students, who don't need to be buying in the bathrooms or from lockers in passing periods. Anybody here go to high school in the 70s? Dazed and Confused on school time catches up to the country...

ThinkItThroughNow...

What if a student wants to stand on a publc sidewalk near school (off school property) holding a sign like "Bong Hits for Jesus" when there is no parade?

My copy of the constitution doesn't include "Olympic ideals and traditions".

Rather than support his so called "Freedom of Speech" issues, his parents should be putting a foot in his ass!

Eric:
(Well) Off school property, on his own time, is fine. (= not across the street at 3:05pm when the buses are loading other students to leave)

No need for suspension. He clearly is not in the control of school officials, and the other students are not "captive" forced to ingest his message.

Those reading this as "oh no -- now they can come get us for Facebook pictures showing, or advocating, illegal acts for minors" are overly fearful.

This ruling just says, if the "free speech" takes place in an area where it would look to a reasonable observer that the school children are being monitored or are under school control (ie/direct location, school hours, etc) then the school authority maintains control to enforce behavior rules against promoting illegal drug use.

If he can't abide by school rules and pay the price (suspension), let him leave the school. Then he can have full time, all over town, to promote his free speech ideas. He's not so much a victim, as the school won't let itself or other kids be victimized.

ThinkItThroughNow... -

Why shouldn't he be allowed to hold a sign across the street from school on a public sidwalk at 3:05PM?

The school can't punish any who isn't a student for holding a sign there.

If the school doesn't like his message, they can counter with their own message.

I can't believe that any of you moral upstanding people would support this.

So you are all ok for your kids to smoke or to be exposed to dope huh?

I was thinking it would take a greater time to load the buses if he were standing there instigating, and technically if you ride the bus, you have no choice to "walk away" from his message. If it significantly disrupts school fuctioning, they've a right to ask him to come back in an hour. If the kids are continually being exposed so near to school, there might be restrictions -- like some localities restrict alcohol and cigarette bulletin boards, and there are significant penalties for possessing near school grounds. I'd just wait him out though. Kid won't show up more than once or twice. I see you're not at all about the "message" but about the right to disrupt in public school. That's sad really. Yeah, come back in an hour kid with your effective sign. *sigh*

I went to a junior high school, that, when I was there, had the biggest drug problem in all the State of Washington. Everybody knew pot was around, most people had a pretty good idea who used it. I didn't use it, none of my friends used it. I cannot imagine any students decision on whether or not to use pot would be influenced by a banner that said "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS." Obviously, there are many high school students who are not influenced by much more cogent arguments on other banners that proclaim "JUST SAY NO." Signs and banners an insignicant part of student's "exposure to dope;" far more important would be the attitudes and behaviors of their close associates. As the minority opinion noted, this decision essentially moves any realistic discussion of drug use further away from the public sphere. That's not necessarily a good thing.

"The school can't punish any who isn't a student for holding a sign there."


You are correct, the school can't do anything except call the police.

The police sure as hell can do something about it though.

Why shouldn't he be allowed to hold a sign across the street from school on a public sidwalk at 3:05PM?

The school can't punish any who isn't a student for holding a sign there.

Whoops.
I thought he was still a student.

Yes. If he's dropped out, the school has no right to suspend him for standing near the bus stop with his sign -- even if it disrupts the bus loading. If he's not a student, the school has no way of punishing him for disrupting other students during the school day. If he is a student though, he grabs the sign from the locker and runs across the street as a fellow student purportedly urging illegal drug use, then yep, they have a right to discipline him according to established school rules that all students agree to follow. (I think they're issuing student handbooks at the start now most places so the kids know what's expected of them and the consequences.)

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