Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bong hits...

Well, the "Bong Hits For Jesus" case decision is out, and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the School District. Long story short, Joseph Frederick, a student in Alaska was let out by the school (to be supervised by teachers) crossed the street as the Olympic torch passed and unfurled a big 'ol banner that said "Bong Hits For Jesus" which was immortalized by the news media. The school suspended him, saying that he was promoting drug abuse, Frederick argued his first Amendment free speech rights were violated and the court battle ensued. Four years later, the school district prevailed. It was a 6-3 decision, and Justice Stevens wrote the dissent, in part which read:

"In my judgment, the First Amendment protects student speech if the message itself neither violates a permissible rule nor expressly advocates conduct that is illegal and harmful to students. This nonsense banner does neither, and the Court does serious violence to the First Amendment in upholding--indeed, lauding--a school's decision to punish Frederick for expressing a view with which it disagreed." (Read the whole decision here)

Interesting. I will tell you, a Supreme Court decision that has something to do with "Bong Hits" in the title does get your students' attention. I remember referring to the title in my classes this past year and having the students' attention. I told them that the decision would more than likely come out this summer and to watch for it. I'm interested to see if my students next year (I am looping, spending two years with the little angels) will mention the case.

On a side note, I think that this case is as important as Tinker and will have a serious ripple effect on students' free speech rights.

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