Monday, June 25, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus – Update

The case of the Bong Hits 4 Jesus banner has just been ruled on

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court ruled against a former high school student Monday in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner case -- a split decision that limits students' free speech rights.

Joseph Frederick was 18 when he unveiled the 14-foot paper sign on a public sidewalk outside his Juneau, Alaska, high school in 2002.

Principal Deborah Morse confiscated it and suspended Frederick. He sued, taking his case all the way to the nation's highest court.

The justices ruled 6-3 that Frederick's free speech rights were not violated by his suspension over what the majority's written opinion called a "sophomoric" banner.

The Supreme Court is wrong, wrong, wrong here. Whether the banner was “sophomoric” or the deepest E=MC-squared Shakespeare NPR shit, the First Amendment protects it. Or is supposed to. If high school students aren’t allowed to say sophomoric things, then how can they say anything at all? We might as well just cauterize their mouths. Which maybe isn't bad idea anyway.

In an ironic twist, the student in this legal case is supported by conservative Christian groups who rightfully fear that the ruling will have a chilling effect on speech – in their case religious expression in schools, such as speech that opposes homosexuality or abortion.

In a second ironic twist, the lead prosecutor against free student speech is none other than Kenneth Starr – famous for investigating Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky years. Back then, Starr was all about saying dirty, dirty things in public. Now he’s all “think of the children” and still a sexually frustrated pervert.

It's indicative of our upside down times, that the highest court in the land is enmeshed in debate that somehow gets Monica Lewinsky; conservative Christians and Alaskan stoners; on the same side. It's the case of the strange bedfellows.

In this court case, free speech is like a plucky Rocky boxing Apollo Creed. He takes punch after punch, getting bloodied and staggering, but refuses to give it up. The final bell rings and Rocky comes out swinging like a man possessed and that's when an asteroid strikes the boxing ring, instantly vaporizing everyone for miles around -- that’s how thoroughly free speech did not win today.

Related: Even Judge Judy has more sense than the Supreme Court

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