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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus Ruling Already Used as Precedent to Shut Down Free Speech

posted by on August 7 at 9:01 AM

A 9th grader in Georgia was suspended in 2003 for writing the following short story in her private notebook.

Last week, citing the the recent “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” ruling against free speech, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension.

Dream

As I walk to school from my sisters [sic] car my stomach ties itself in nots. [sic] I have nervousness tingling [sic] up and down my spine and my heart races. No one knows what is going to happen. I have the gun hidden in my pocket. I cross the lawn and hed [sic] to my locker on A hall. Smiling sweetly to my friends hoping they donít notice the cold sweat that has developed on my forehead [sic]. Iím walking up to the front office when the bell rings for class to start. So afraid that I think I might pass out. I ask if my mother dropped off a book I need. No. My first to [sic] classes pass by my heart thumping so hard Iím afraid every one can hear it. Constantly I can feel the gun in my pocket. 3rd period, 4th, 5th then 6th period [sic] my time is coming. I enter the class room my face pale. My stomach has tied itself in ___ knots ___ be able to untie them. Then he starts taking role. Yes, my math teacher. I lothe [sic] him with every bone in my body. Why? I donít know. This is it. I stand up and pull the gun from my pocket. BANG the force blows him back and every one in the class sit [sic] there in shock. BANG he falls to the floor and some one lets out an ear piercing scream. Shaking I put the gun in my pocket and run from the room. By now the school police officer is running after me. Easy I can out run him. Out the doors, almost to the car. I can get away. BANG this time a shot was fired at me. I turn just in time to see the bullet running at me. Almost like its [sic] in slow motion. Then, the bell rings, I pick my head off my desk, shake my head and gather up my books off to my next class.

RSS icon Comments

1

If this ruling means I never have to read some kid's crappy writing again, so be it.

Posted by Ziggity | August 7, 2007 9:12 AM
2

What do you want?

Sleeping in class is against the rules.

Posted by Ben | August 7, 2007 9:13 AM
3

Are school administrators so fucking stupid as to think that suspending kids for writing stuff like this is going to somehow keep it from ever happening? I'm not saying that this girl is now going to shoot her math teacher, but if it were something she had been seriously contemplating, how would suspending her help?

Posted by steve | August 7, 2007 9:21 AM
4

The next generation is going to grow up pissed off. Let's see what happens.

Posted by monkey | August 7, 2007 9:24 AM
5

Creative writing should be encouraged, not punished. I think it's bullshit. Where would our society be if artists, writers, musicians, etc. had been forbidden to broach certain unpleasant topics or ideas? This girl had an idea for a story, and it was a pretty good storyótrite to be sure, but thrillingóand she's being punished because the story had a kid with a gun in it. The kid didn't shoot the teacher and get away, the kid got shot; it wasn't glorifying violence in school whatsoever.

Posted by Carollani | August 7, 2007 9:27 AM
6

i think i have mixed feelings on this one. while i'd like the students to have creative freedom... this is exactly the essay that would be paraded in front of everyone if said student goes on a shooting spree. there are certain things you cannot share/comment/joke about while in certain places -- a bomb in an airport for instance. the questions is does school shootings fall into that category?

Posted by infrequent | August 7, 2007 9:33 AM
7

oops!!! the question is: do school shooting fall into that category. sorry about the high school writing moment there...

Posted by infrequent | August 7, 2007 9:37 AM
8

@ infrequent~
Assuming this wasn't a joke and this girl is seriously considering a violent action like the one she described.... How the HELL would suspending her from school help?? She would need counseling and specific attention, not disciplinary action.

Posted by steve | August 7, 2007 9:40 AM
9

Haven't schools been cracking down on these stories since Columbine? I fail to see how the Bong Hits decision is involved.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 7, 2007 9:42 AM
10

great, now that she is suspended she'll have plenty of time to riffle dad's sock drawer for the keys to the gun safe.

If I'd been suspended every time I fantasized about shooting up my high school, I'd still be waiting to graduate 10 years later.

Posted by langston | August 7, 2007 9:52 AM
11

@keshmeshi - "the special characteristics of the school environment and the gov't interest in stopping student drug abuse...allows schools to restrict student expression that they reasonably regard as promoting illegal drug use. That same rationalle applies equally, if not more strongly, to speech reasonably construed as a threat of school violence"

I don't have a problem with using the bong hits ruling (that kid got suspended for being an idiot). The problem that I have is the court used Wikipedia to research its ruling....

Posted by jmilwaukee | August 7, 2007 9:53 AM
12

It sounds like a dream journal. What's the big fucking deal? I'm glad the cowards and beauracrats policing our schools now weren't so pervasive in my day...some of the shit I wrote made this look like Curious George. They'd have sent me off to juvie and given me shock treatments.

Posted by Matthew | August 7, 2007 9:58 AM
13

Sorry, that's "beaurocrat."

Posted by Matthew | August 7, 2007 9:59 AM
14

was it *really* necessary to [sic] it to death? especially since you missed a few... i mean, c'mon...

Posted by investigatory journalist | August 7, 2007 10:03 AM
15

Whenever I had a teacher in high school who droned on and on forever, I would fantasize about throwing my shoe. Just the thought of it hitting them in the head made it all better.

Should I have been suspended...?

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | August 7, 2007 10:07 AM
16

Welcome to Soviet America, courtesy of the Red Bushies.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 7, 2007 10:39 AM
17

@8 steve, i assume it was neither a joke nor a serious threat. of course you never know. anyways, why the vitriol? of course if it was a serious threat she would need counselling and specific attention (which is punishment in itself!). but read that PDF file linked in the article. this was being passed multiple times in class after the teacher requested they stop, and the students were being obnoxious.

this is a case where the student needs to learn some common sense... seriously. there are times when you don't say certain things because it is not in your best interest. this is clearly one of those cases, as is talking about bombs in airports. a year expulsion might be extreme -- but i'm not talking about the punishment, i'm only saying that i don't think writing about shooting a teacher should be protected in every case.

if i were a teacher, i would want certain limits so i could do my job for the sake of the students who were interested. find a better case to support a student's free speech than this one. find a case where she writes about sex or something else normally objectionable. but let's give our poor teacher's a break on the student/teacher violence front.

i would like to note that in addition to being a disruption in class, the above link ends with, "Boim wrote for her schoolís student newspaper, The Sting." hardly a private journal entry, if that is the case.

Posted by infrequent | August 7, 2007 10:57 AM
18

@13 No, it's "bureaucrat." =)

Posted by T | August 7, 2007 10:59 AM
19

"And then I woke up" is the oldest cliche in the pre-teen short story style guide. That alone is grounds for one week's detention.

Posted by DOUG. | August 7, 2007 11:31 AM
20

That wasn't creative writing. I wrote shit like that in high school too. Lots of kids did. Boring. But I never killed anybody, either.

If you're a kid in school and you're stunned because a teacher overreacts to a story like that, you know exactly what you're getting into. Ever since Columbine it's been a knee jerk thing. And you're gonna be shocked that the school reacted the way they did? No wonder this genius can't write a coherent paper. D minus.

Posted by Jason Josephes | August 7, 2007 12:41 PM
21

You mised a '[sic]' that'd be roll (as in roll call) not 'role'.
;)

Seriously, it was difficult to read the damn story with all the damn '[sic]'s. I think we all understand that our education system doesn't successfully teach spellling to too many of our students, why not just let the story flow?

Posted by K X One | August 7, 2007 3:20 PM
22

Huh. And an analyst of the Bonghit ruling stated that that ruling was a narrow, exceptional case and there was no need to worry about it being used as a precedent.

Posted by Vancouver Natalie | August 7, 2007 4:17 PM
23

All I can say is, this is a student who obviously needs to spend MORE time in class, not LESS.

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24

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25

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