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Bong hits 4 Jesus

Old 03-19-07, 04:22 PM
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Bong hits 4 Jesus

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070319/...ts_rights_dc_3

Court hears "Bong hits 4 Jesus" case

By James Vicini
1 hour, 38 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In its first major student free-speech rights case in almost 20 years, U.S. Supreme Court justices struggled on Monday with how far schools can go in censoring students.

In a case involving a Juneau, Alaska, high school student suspended for unfurling a banner that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," several justices seemed wary about giving a principal too much authority at the expense of the student's right to express his views.

"It's political speech, it seems to me. I don't see what it disrupts," a skeptical Justice David Souter said.

"And no one was smoking pot in that crowd," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, referring to the group of students standing near the banner as the Winter Olympic torch relay passed by in January 2002.

The incident occurred during school hours but on a public sidewalk across from the school.

Student Joseph Frederick says the banner's language was meant to be meaningless and funny in an effort to get on television.

Principal Deborah Morse said the phrase "bong hits" referred to smoking marijuana. She suspended Frederick for 10 days because the banner advocated or promoted illegal drug use in violation of school policy.

Justice Stephen Breyer said he was struggling with the case.

A ruling for Frederick could result in students "testing limits all over the place in the high schools" while a ruling against Frederick "may really limit people's rights on free speech," Breyer said.

Kenneth Starr, the former special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, said Morse acted reasonably and in accord with the school's anti-drug mission.

A Bush administration lawyer, Edwin Kneedler, argued for a broad rule that public schools do not have to tolerate a message inconsistent with its basic educational mission.

"I find that a very, very disturbing argument," Justice Samuel Alito said, adding that schools could define their educational mission so broadly to suppress political speech and speech expressing fundamental student values.

Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Kneedler if the principal could have required the banner be taken down if it had said "vote Republican, vote Democrat."

Kneedler replied the principal has that authority.

Frederick's lawyer, Douglas Mertz of Juneau, said: "This is a case about free speech. It is not a case about drugs."

Mertz argued the court should not abandon its famous 1969 ruling that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate," a decision that allowed students to wear black armbands in class to protest the Vietnam War.

But the Supreme Court's last major rulings on the issue went against the students.

The court ruled in 1986 that a student does not have a free-speech right to give a sexually suggestive speech at an assembly and in 1988 that school newspapers can be censored.

A decision in the case is expected by the end of June.

This happened over 5 years ago, but I think this <s>scum</s> student should be given the same punishment as any student who ditches school, no more no less. He was on public property, not school property.

I also did a search by the students name and didn't find any recent threads on this subject. I could be wrong.

Chris
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Old 03-19-07, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070319/...ts_rights_dc_3

This happened over 5 years ago, but I think this <s>scum</s> student should be given the same punishment as any student who ditches school, no more no less. He was on public property, not school property.

I also did a search by the students name and didn't find any recent threads on this subject. I could be wrong.

Chris
First, he didn't ditch school. The school essentially let the students go outside to watch the torch relay. His being on public property (across the street!) actually means that the school should have even less right to restrict his free speech.

Second, even the school administration had to admit that the banner was in no way disruptive. The standard for student free speech is that censorship could be deemed appropriate when the speech is distruptive to school instruction -- hardly the case here.

Third, as the justices have pointed out, the principal's position essentially gives the school administration a blank check for banning all kind of protected speech -- political, personal, conscientious, etc. I for one would rather err on the side of the libertarians and encourage more free expression in school.

Fourth, and this is the nail in the coffin... the kid and his father offered to settle with the school board: just let someone from the local ACLU chapter come in and speak to the student body about what is and is not protected at school by the 1st Ammendment. The school board rejected that deal in favor of their hard-line policy. I say, screw 'em.
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Old 03-19-07, 04:52 PM
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I think it was his freedom of speech, but what do I know?
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Old 03-19-07, 05:01 PM
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Why is he scum? That seems a little harsh.
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Old 03-19-07, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by CharlieK
Why is he scum? That seems a little harsh.
Because he's a druggie and trying to corrupt the little children of course.
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Old 03-19-07, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Because he's a druggie and trying to corrupt the little children of course.
I actually assumed that it was someone daring to put Jesus and bong in the same sentence. I thought payroll was Christian and may have taken extra offense to that. Even though Jesus was a hippie.
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Old 03-19-07, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by CharlieK
Why is he scum? That seems a little harsh.
Because, as I Christian, I get tired when these 'scum' try to demean the name of the 'One' who came to save us all.

Waiting for the inevitable 'do not agree' replies'

Chris
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Old 03-19-07, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by spainlinx0
I actually assumed that it was someone daring to put Jesus and bong in the same sentence. I thought payroll was Christian and may have taken extra offense to that. Even though Jesus was a hippie.

Didn't see your reply before I made mine. You've been watching too much Jesus Christ Suuperstar!

Chris
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Old 03-19-07, 06:22 PM
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I read that as a pro-Jesus slogan myself.
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Old 03-19-07, 06:44 PM
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I first read it as Bono.

Kind of would have made sense that way.
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Old 03-19-07, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
First, he didn't ditch school. The school essentially let the students go outside to watch the torch relay. His being on public property (across the street!) actually means that the school should have even less right to restrict his free speech.

Second, even the school administration had to admit that the banner was in no way disruptive. The standard for student free speech is that censorship could be deemed appropriate when the speech is distruptive to school instruction -- hardly the case here.

Third, as the justices have pointed out, the principal's position essentially gives the school administration a blank check for banning all kind of protected speech -- political, personal, conscientious, etc. I for one would rather err on the side of the libertarians and encourage more free expression in school.

Fourth, and this is the nail in the coffin... the kid and his father offered to settle with the school board: just let someone from the local ACLU chapter come in and speak to the student body about what is and is not protected at school by the 1st Ammendment. The school board rejected that deal in favor of their hard-line policy. I say, screw 'em.
I Agree 100% with NCMojo

*looks out window and doesn't see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse galloping across a blood red sky.

Must be a coincidence.

Last edited by crazyronin; 03-19-07 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 03-19-07, 06:59 PM
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The school property angle reminds me of how everyone would stand across the street in direct sight of the high school and smoke cigarettes at my high school.
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Old 03-19-07, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
Because, as I Christian, I get tired when these 'scum' try to demean the name of the 'One' who came to save us all.

Waiting for the inevitable 'do not agree' replies'

Chris
^^ Insert inevitable 'do not agree' reply here ^^

Also from what I understand... this kid is neither a druggie, nor particuarly anti-religious. He was just trying to make a sophomoric joke, something to get on TV:
Frederick said the "bong hits" phrase was intended as humor and an exercise of free speech, and not intended to advocate any message about drugs or religion. The phrase is used on a brand of snowboard, he said.

"We thought we had a free-speech right to display a humorous saying," Frederick said in an affidavit filed in court papers. "The content of the banner was less important to us than the fact that we were exercising our free-speech rights to do a funny parody."
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Old 03-19-07, 07:30 PM
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I think NCMojo broke it down very well.

Here is SCOTUSBLOG's analysis of the oral arguments:

Monday, March 19, 2007
Analysis: A new exception to "Tinker"?
Posted by Lyle Denniston at 05:47 PM

The Supreme Court on Monday toyed with the notion that public school officials should have added discretion to censor student speech that they may interpret as advocating use of illegal drugs. But this was only a flirtation, not a warm embrace. During the argument in Morse v. Frederick (06-278), a clear majority of the Justices showed significant skepticism about creating a wide exception to the curb on suppression of student speech that the Court spelled out in 1969 in Tinker v. Des Moines School District

As blog colleague Marty Lederman has pointed out in the post below, a sweeping exception to Tinker had the visible support Monday of only Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justice Antonin Scalia, who seemed to be competing to lay out the most generous view of officials' discretion to enforce school-preferred messages. Although each made a fleeting comment here and there to suggest that they might hesitate to endorse total discretion for teachers and principals to stamp out any message that school officials deemed contradictory to their own definition of "educational mission," there was little to suggest this was a real hesitation.

The Justice Department, and some school officials and supporters, would prefer a declaration by the Court that public school administrators are constitutionally free to bar any student speech that might appear to them to be advocacting a violation of law -- a more sweeping proposition than wiping out student speech that seems to advocate using illegal drugs. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whose vote the Department would surely need for a decision going that far, was openly hostile to it. And, somewhat surprisingly, so was Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., one of the Court's more conservative members.

Kennedy, in the past, has been most aggressive in supporting official action to deal with drug abuse, and especialliy so in the public school context. But he left no doubt, in questioning Kenneth W. Starr, attorney for the Juneau, Alaska, School Board and principal Deborah Morse, that pro-drug speech suppression was about as far as he would go in this case. "The rule you proposed," Kennedy told Starr, "is that the school has wide discretion to define its educational mission and it can restrict speech that;s inconsistent with that mission....And it seems to me that;s much broader than Tinker."

Scalia sensed this hostility from Kennedy, jumping in to suggest that he favors suppression of any student speech "that advocates violation of the law." Starr, seeming to walk away somewhat from the points that had troubled Kennedy, said that would lead the Court into areas of suppression of protected speech, and added: "I don't think the Court needs to stray into those areas..."

Much of the one-hour hearing was taken up with either puzzled efforts by the Justices to find out just what had happened in the student speech censorship incident outside a Juneau high school in early 2002. It was far from clear that the Justices had a settled view of whether senior Joseph Frederick actually had disrupted anything by holding up a 14-foot banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during a rally to honor the Olympic torch. And it was not plain that the Justices were sure of what that banner's message really was.

The Chief Justice, for example, seemed uncertain about what drove the high school senior to make his demonstration across from the school during the torch rally. He ascribed a number of motives to Frederick that Frederick's lawyer, Douglas K. Mertz, promptly disputed, saying the record disputed Roberts' assumptions.

Sounding somewhat frustrated, Justice David H. Souter remarked near the end of the hearing: "We have had a debate here for going on 50 minutes about what Tinker means, about the proper charaterization of the behavior, the non-speech behavior. The school's terms in dealing with the kids that morning. The meaning of...the statement. We've been debating this in this courtroom for going on an hour, and it seems to me...there is reasonable debate." Thus, Souter said, perhaps the school principal may not have known, at the time of the incident, what the correct view of the law was.

That was a clear indication that the Court may well be tempted to find that Principal Morse could not be charged with knowledge, back in 2002, of what exactly her official discretion was under the Tinker doctrine, and thus might be accorded legal immunity, at least to damages claims.

The Chief Justice reinforced that point with an expression of concern that, not only might a decision in the student's favor mean that Principal Morse would "have to pay out of her own pocket" money damages that Frederick might yet win, but it also might mean that "principals and teachers around the country have to fear that they're going to have to pay out of their personal pocket whenever they take actions pursuant to established board policies that they think are necessary to promote the school's educational mission."

Justice Stephen G. Breyer also seemed worried that a decision broadly favoring Frederick's right to stage his demonstration could mean "we'll suddenly see people testing limits all over the place in the high schools."

The Court is expected to decide the case before recessing for the summer.

So I would expect a narrowly tailored opinion against the school board (and Justice Dept.) with at least Roberts and Scalia dissenting.

Last edited by Red Dog; 03-19-07 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 03-19-07, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
Also from what I understand... this kid is neither a druggie..
You might want to revisit that.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...031201699.html

"Joseph Frederick was arrested while attending college in Texas for distributing marijuana. "I never professed to be perfect or a saint," he said in the conference call with reporters."
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Old 03-20-07, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
Because, as I Christian, I get tired when these 'scum' try to demean the name of the 'One' who came to save us all.

Waiting for the inevitable 'do not agree' replies'

Chris
Bong Hits 4 Bush would have sounded better.
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Old 03-20-07, 08:46 AM
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Which justice asked the question - 'would a banner at school saying 'rape is fun' be o.k.?
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Old 03-20-07, 09:09 AM
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This may not have been on school property, but was it an organized school event? Were students generally dismissed or were students escorted to the event, supervised and then returned to class?
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Old 03-20-07, 09:26 AM
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Just imagine it the sign said "Bong hits for Allah". Hillary herself would be addressing the situation.
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Old 03-20-07, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Which justice asked the question - 'would a banner at school saying 'rape is fun' be o.k.?
Tinker vs. Des Moines:
In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school," the prohibition cannot be sustained.
If students unfurled a banner proclaiming "rape is fun", that would almost certainly cause "substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others", which is the measuring stick used in this case. Similarly, showing up in a KKK or a Black Panther T-shirt is similarly barred. But in this case, there was apparently no real instruction taking place; the banner was displayed outside of school grounds; it did not apparently did not cause a disruption of any sort; and there was ostentiably no advocacy of illegal activity.

Originally Posted by wmansir
This may not have been on school property, but was it an organized school event? Were students generally dismissed or were students escorted to the event, supervised and then returned to class?
From all reports, it was a fairly diorganized school event. But even if it was a regimented class activity -- school discipline does not automatically trump contitutionally-protected free speech.
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Old 03-20-07, 09:46 AM
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The promotion of drug use doesn't interfere with school discipline?
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Old 03-20-07, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
The promotion of drug use doesn't interfere with school discipline?
You're basically making the same case as Kenneth Starr.

Anyway, they're claiming that the banner promoted drug use, and thus was within the purveyance of school discipline. I am somewhat skeptical that that was the case here -- and in any case, I think a student should be free to advocate illegal drug use, as long as doing so does not interfere with normal classroom activities.

Interestingly, several religious fundamentalist have also supplied friend of the court briefs in support of the kid in this case. Their point (and I think it is fair) is that the same free speech that allowed Joseph Frederick to hold up a "Bong Hits for Jesus" banner would also allow them to wear a "Jesus Saves" T-shirt.
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Old 03-20-07, 10:01 AM
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No, I'm just responding to what you said.

Both rape & drugs are violations of the law.

Therefore if one interferes with school discipline, then it stands to reason that the other one does also.
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Old 03-20-07, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
No, I'm just responding to what you said.

Both rape & drugs are violations of the law.

Therefore if one interferes with school discipline, then it stands to reason that the other one does also.
If by some miracle there is a 16 year old Sammy Hagar fan who wears an "I can't drive 55" shirt, should they be suspended for advocating speeding?
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Old 03-20-07, 10:41 AM
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Good song.
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