News Candy Canes for Jesus
posted by January 18 at 0:27 AMon
The Meaning of the Candy Cane
Hard candy: Reminds us that Jesus is like a “rock,” strong and dependable.
The color Red: Is for God’s love that sent Jesus to give his life for us on the cross.
The Stripes: Remind us of Jesus’ suffering–his crown of thorns, the wounds in his hands and feet; and the cross on which he died.
Peppermint Flavor: Is like the gift of spices from the wise men.
White Candy: Stands for Jesus as the holy, sinless Son of God.
Cane: Is like a staff used by shepherds in caring for sheep. Jesus leads us and watches over us when we Trust him.
An incredibly interesting case was decided by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals this week.
Just the summary of the basic facts in Section 1 of the decision (follow the link above and read it!) is like some sad Raymond Carver story with lines like: “If Joel still wished to sell the candy canes with the card, he could do so after school in the parking lot.”
It’s about a 5th grader in Saginaw, Michigan who sets out to sell candy canes with a religious note attached explaining why candy canes symbolize Christianity. (Peppermint Flavor: Is like the gift of spices from the wise men.)
Adding the explanatory note was the boy’s dad’s idea. The boy was attempting to sell the candy canes as part of school exercise (that only involved play money) that directed the young students to come up with and market a product and compete for sales at a market bazaar in the gymnasium.
Little Joel Curry—whose “business partner,” classmate Siddarth Reddy, was put off by the product proclaiming, “nobody wants to hear about Jesus”—was ultimately prohibited from selling the product.
His parents, furious, sued the school claiming that Joel’s first amendment rights were violated.
The court (unjustly, I think) ruled against the boy and his parents because they said—according to the Hazelwood Standard—a school can suspend the right to free speech in the context of a school-sponsored program (like a mock bazaar) if the administration’s decision is based on “pedagogical concerns.”
The school felt that Joel’s message offended some students and therefore it disrupted the educational program. The Court sided with the school.
The Court’s decision shows exactly why the Hazelwood standard is bad news. One could just as easily argue that Joel’s “offensive” product was good for the lesson plan. His poor sales and failing business could have served as some kind of lesson about how marketplaces work. The fact that the school banished his Christian candy canes proves that the “pedagogical” standard is arbitrary and subjective—hardly a fair standard for something as serious as determining free speech rights.
(Footnote: Hazelwood is typically used by conservative courts and school administrators to encompass all school activities whether they are literally pedagogical moments like the mock bazaar or not—and so administrators have broad latitude to suppress speech throughout the school day on the vague premise that it disrupts the educational setting.
The much fairer Tinker standard, displaced by Hazelwood, had presented censors with a tougher standard that says the speech in question must actually disrupt the school day as opposed to the subjective “pedagogical” purpose of the school day.)