Bong Hits 4 Jesus? Court says No Way 5-4

I don’t know how many of you have been following the Alaskan high school student’s court case objecting to his suspension from school for unfurling a banner mystically exhorting “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” at a “school sponsored” but off campus event for the 2000 passage of the Olympic torch. As an old high school and college news editor, I’ve followed the issue of school regulated free speech over the years. This particular case is troubling on the surface; the expression did not take place on school property, the speech in question may or may not have been a pro-drug message (okay, of course it was a pro-drug message. So?), and the punishment extended to the student’s family (father was fired from his school district job for supporting his son’s case. He was in maintenance not adminstration. The father later won a $200,000 suit against the school district).

I haven’t gotten to the Court’s web site to read the decisions so I’ll refrain from commenting on the law until then but…shades of things to come I am afraid. CBS News link on Court Speech cases below.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/06/25/supremecourt/main2974259.shtml?source=RSSattr=HOME_2974259

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2 Responses to Bong Hits 4 Jesus? Court says No Way 5-4

  1. Nicola Evans says:

    Ok I guess this is a lost in translation thing, I didn’t get it as a pro-drug message. Yes it’s a slippery slope but I think if it can be interpreted as a pro-drugs message then I can see the school would be upset. But I do agree that if it is off school property then unless the matter breaks state (or federal) law in some way, he should be allowed to say what he wants.

    But the wasn’t entirely unconnected with the school, it was a school sponsored event and I can see that the school doesn’t want to open itself up to criticism that it was condoning a pro-drugs message at an event it was sponsoring. I think the venue issue makes this a difficult case from the school’s POV.

    The father being sacked is altogether a different matter – a wrong decision. A parent must have the right to support his child, for all we know he may have disagreed with his son – what’s that quote attributed to Voltaire “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it” – could apply here….

    We have had a similar case in the courts here this week about a girl applying to court for the right to wear her “no sex yet I’m British” ring to school. She said it was an infringement of her religious rights not to be allowed to wear it – good grief. Here’s the link:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1971097.ece

    As is often the case, there is more to this than immediately meets the eye. Could the case have something to do with the fact that her father is the seller and distributor of the rings in this country? Surely not.

    I can’t find the link at the moment but there was something in the paper this week about the level of STD amongst those who claim abstinence….interesting.

    Glad your trip is still going well…

    Nicola

  2. jtholste says:

    I’ve been able to skim the “majority” opinion on the Bong Hits case and, fortunately, I see a range of opinions on this issue with the far right winger not gaining anywhere near the control they wanted over youth expession. Students still retain the right to express dissent over political and social issues, even those involving school policy, but obvious acts of disruption (like streaking in the fun days of the 70’s) do not have to be tolerated. Is “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” a religious statement or just an effort to get a big group of kids to giggle and gawfaw at all the “right” times. As for me, I’d take the kid to dinner, slap him on the back, and say “wish I had the balls to do that in High School.” I’d also tell him to take his medicine like a man and get on with it. Hey, he’s got way more goodle hits than I do!

    You Brits on the other hand…I do confess I appreciate the effort you all put into struggling with these religious jewlery crisis. The French just ban everything! I always thought that wearing virginity rings (or other protestations in favor of late sexual debut as the socialist workers call it) was just another form of “come hither and try you luck little boy!” And you know how boys love the challenge of a locked box 😉

    And yes you are right about some of the abstinence data: girls who take the “V” pledge a far more likely to get a notch in her lipstick case during the following 12 months than girls who keep their own confidence. There are also more likely to come down with any number of itchy nasty STDs. There is a notorious story of an American High School Senior who pledged chastity till her wedding night who had to resign as head of her “Silver Ring Thing” group in order to give birth.

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