Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bong Hits for Jesus

Daniel Henninger of the WSJ’s Opinion Journal provides a legal overview of the current morass of rulings on the application of the First Ammendment in government high schools.

Some background on “Bong Hits for Jesus” case. It seems like the students were either let out early to watch the Olympic torch parade, and Mr. Frederick thought that a cool way to get on TV would be to unfurl a large banner with the legend “Bong Hits for Jesus”.

Since the Mr. Frederick’s location was described as “across the street from the high school”, he may not have been on school property at the time. If he wasn’t on school property, I’m not sure I want some government hack censoring his speech.

The school authorities confiscated the sign, and suspended Mr. Frederick. Who, of course, sued.

The angle is, of course, the prohibition of an anti-anti drug message. Not to mention the irreligious reference.

Schools, even the government ones, are not open forums. Some amount of teaching needs to occur, and some amount of discipline needs to be enforced to give the teachers a chance. I have a fair amount of sympathy for the students trapped in government schools. Bad teachers, unions, bureaucrats, endless political correctness and indoctrination. In the end, the only way to ensure an educated public is to end public education.

There’s actually a fair amount at stake here - if the courts uphold or expand student’s rights of free speech, you’ll be seeing more cases like this.

One short term answer: school uniforms. A nice, content neutral, problem solving approach.