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Monday, June 25, 2007

No Bong Hits For Jesus and No Free Speech for Students

posted by on June 25 at 9:14 AM

The US Supreme Court handed down a batch of decisions today including: loosening restrictions on campaign advertising and limiting the rights of tax payers to sue the government over the use of tax dollars for President Bush’s faith-based initiatives.

It also ruled, as Dan linked in Morning News, in the “Bong Hits for Jesus” case, ruling against a student’s right to free speech.

The ruling continues to push the law away from the Tinker standard which I Slogged about a lot last legislative session. Tinker protected student speech unless administrators could show that it disrupts the school day. Today’s ruling affirms subsequent conservative rulings that say administrators can use subjective standards (“disrupt the educational mission”) allowing them to ban messages based on content wether or not they disrupt the day.

Check in at the First Amendment Center, a student rights group that’s bound to weigh in later today.

Conservatives get that the ruling is chilling. The AP story reports:

Conservative groups that often are allied with the administration are backing Frederick out of concern that a ruling for Morse would let schools clamp down on religious expression, including speech that might oppose homosexuality or abortion.

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I don't see how they can dictate a students speech outside of school.

America scares me more and more every day.

Posted by monkey | June 25, 2007 9:20 AM

Why does the Supreme Court hate us for our freedom?

Posted by Original Andrew | June 25, 2007 9:31 AM

It was on school time. The class was let out to watch the Olympic Torch relay, and the students were being supervised by faculty.

I think the ruling is bullshit, but lets get the facts straight.

Posted by elswinger | June 25, 2007 9:32 AM

So scary. And it's not a movie.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | June 25, 2007 9:36 AM

Damn... this doesn't hold much hope for the case right now with local students suing Everett School District for Free Speech violations.

Posted by Phelix | June 25, 2007 9:47 AM

Also he was directly across from the school. Just another fact.

Posted by Sam | June 25, 2007 9:48 AM

Another interesting note: After the school district decided to appeal the lower court rulings where they lost, Ken Star, that intrepid special prosecutor who caught President Bill Clinton with his pants down and wrote a big ol' report about it, took up their case as a private practice attorney.

Posted by Sam | June 25, 2007 9:53 AM

My reading on this is that the speech being limited is narrowly focused to "drug speech", assumedly “pro-illegal drugs/pro-drug abuse” and not some other “ask your doctor about up with Viagra or down with percodan” slang-slogan ... "bong hits for Jesus"=not ok speech. "(some-thin, some-thin) hits for Jesus", then maybe its ok, but that’s when the whole "not on school property vs. school running everything” argument kick's in. Sucks to be in High School, that’s for sure.

Posted by Phenics | June 25, 2007 10:02 AM

Does it interfere with a school's educational mission when a student disagrees with a teacher over intelligent design, popular interpretations of American history, and so on? What fucking bullshit.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 25, 2007 10:06 AM

Remember the good old days where pot was kinda sorta legal in Alaska?

Posted by elswinger | June 25, 2007 10:15 AM

I think the ruling is bullshit, but lets get the facts straight.
Shouldn't we then also get straight that the student hadn't gone to school yet that day (had a flat tire, I believe), drove himself straight to the event, and stood there on his own? So his connection to the school or even being a student is even more tenuous? (Someone check me if I'm wrong, but those details weaken the school's case even further)

And yes, this will bite down on the right almost immediately. Progressive/liberal-run schools will be able to use this ruling in a host of ways immediately: gay rights, abortion, intelligent design, stem cell research, etc.: Administrators will be able to lasso all sorts of ought-to-be-debated issues into an "educational mission" catch-all, and student's rights (including regressive/conservative students, yes) will be further trampled.

Posted by torrentprime | June 25, 2007 10:39 AM

He thinks in terms of losers and winners. He will be a winner. He will take it all. So he sets out to do just that. He will eliminate all unprdictable factors. He will set up the American Non Dream.

This William Burroughs quote comes from a pretty nice book about the evolution of literature linked to drug usage.

Posted by Garrett | June 25, 2007 10:57 AM

keshmeshi @9, the court determined that "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" was not political or religious speech, and that the analysis would be different if it was.

Posted by giantladysquirrels | June 25, 2007 11:14 AM

I love that on the same day John Roberts said we need to err on the side of free speech regarding campaign ads, he also presided over a ruling against this student's free speech.

Posted by Gabriel | June 25, 2007 11:15 AM



Posted by Josh Feit | June 25, 2007 11:24 AM

Gabriel, I love your post just prior to the John Roberts story-- off the top of my head, I'd call the field Cultural Genetics. This sort of study has been around for some time and I get excited when it pops up in blogs or mainstream media, or are they one in the same now?

uh, this comment it relevent to me because... Wrong 'snips' for G-e-CA-s-T!

Posted by Garrett | June 25, 2007 11:43 AM

@1, @3 - actually, if you're a student at SPU or the UW, you are subject to the student code of conduct anywhere, including outside campus, and the UW police can bust you even in Wallingford or Fremont ... or Capitol Hill.

Not that they would, but just FYI.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 25, 2007 11:48 AM

@ 17 -

Currently, UW students aren't bound by the conduct code off campus. Yet.

Yes, the ASUW, in a less than brilliant move, approved extending the conduct code. But, the administration is only now working out how to apply the conduct code off campus. The UW's student conduct code, as laid out in the WACs, does not yet apply off campus. They'll need some legislative action to adjust the WACs and some new enforcement techniques and guidelines before it happens.

I don't know about SPU though.

Posted by Phelix | June 25, 2007 12:11 PM

17 & 18. If the continued boorish behavior of kids on the Ave and frat row is any indication, UW is clearly not enforcing the code off campus.

Posted by Gomez | June 25, 2007 12:15 PM

The UW shouldn't be enforcing the code off campus. If UW students are behaving in ways that are against the law, such as being drunk in public, underaged drinking in public, making a public disturbance, then the police should handle it.

Why should students have their school take them to task for behaving poorly off campus? It's a matter for the city to handle, not the school.

If you're out on the Ave, Gomez, drinking, being stupid, making a disturbance, should we call your employer and have them discipline you too? No. If you're that big of a problem, the police will sort you out.

Students at the UW, or any University, are adults and should be treated that way. If that means jail time, a criminal record, or convictions, then so be it. As students, we need to learn that the Real World applies to us, and our behavior in it has consequences in it.

Posted by Phelix | June 25, 2007 12:38 PM

All your rights are belong to us.

Thanks, King George!

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 25, 2007 1:33 PM

*giggle* Thanks Will. :D

Posted by Phelix | June 25, 2007 2:43 PM

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