Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

I am mainly linking to this article because I thought the Supremes' questions involving hypothetical banners were funny. The Post's news article about the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case is here.

A portion of the first article:

As Ken Starr told the nine justices yesterday why a student's "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner didn't qualify as free speech, the whole bunch of them sounded one toke over the line.

"So if the sign had been 'Bong Stinks for Jesus,' that would be . . . a protected right?" asked Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"Suppose that this particular person had whispered to his next-door neighbor, 'Bong hits for Jesus, heh, heh, heh'?" contributed Stephen Breyer.

"What if the sign said 'Bong Hits Should be Legal'?" queried John Paul Stevens.

Anthony Kennedy got really psychedelic. "Suppose the banner said 'Vote Republican'?"

David Souter inhaled. Imagine, he said, that the student "just holds a little sign in the Shakespeare class that says 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' . . . and they say, 'Well, so-and-so has got his bong sign again.' They then return to 'Macbeth.' "

Far out. Antonin Scalia wanted a turn. "Smoke Pot, It's Fun," he proposed.

" 'Rape Is Fun'?" offered Kennedy.

" 'Extortion Is Profitable'?" Scalia rejoined.

This case is arguably related to the topic of this blog, as Krauze noted on Telic Thoughts:

This is a case with far-ranging implications. After all, if teaching evolution is part of a school's "educational mission", surely it also has the right to muzzle students whose beliefs conflict with that mission - like creationist students giving presentations or handing out materials on creationism.

I do not think the implications of this case are likely that great, no matter which way the Court goes. (By the way, Krauze was quoting from an editorial, not a news article.) Appropriate student speech at appropriate times could not be forbidden, under many prior cases. A school could not silence student comments in class based on the content of the speech, but the government and government schools have always been able to place neutral time, place and manner restrictions on speech. For example, a student cannot stand up and scream her opinion at a teacher while the teacher is in the middle of a lecture.

This case involves a banner with four words that made little sense and that was admittedly simply a prank to get on TV. I support free speech rights (even when the ACLU does not). I have not looked at all the facts in this case enough to form an opinion on how it should be decided.


Post a Comment

<< Home