Gotta say, I’m on the side of the ACLU in this one:
The Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in an unusual free speech case that found Christian groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the same side of the debate.
The groups have put aside their differences to support a former high school student who was punished for holding a sign declaring, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.”
When the Olympic torch passed by his Alaska high school in 2002, Joe Frederick and some friends unfurled the banner, whose slogan refers to smoking marijuana. Frederick, at the time an 18-year-old senior, was suspended for the prank.
The ACLU came to Frederick’s defense, arguing that the school violated his free speech rights by unfairly censoring speech based on its content. In the 1969 decision Tinker v. Des Moines, the court found that students maintain their constitutional rights in school and that expression that doesn’t disrupt education cannot be censored.
The only thing that makes this case at all questionable is that the kid was on school property, but when it comes down to it, so what? It was offensive but not disruptive, and I doubt anyone took “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” to be the school’s official stance. This was a case of kids being kids.
If the principal wins, here’s what will probably happen before long. Some Christian kid will say something that a PC principal will find objectionable, and that kid will get suspended from school. This case would back up that call, and free speech would take a massive hit on school campuses.
We already have enough speech codes at universities. A win for the principal here would open up too much room to create more of them at our schools.