Pubdate: Tue, 27 Mar 2007
Source: Herald-Mail, The (Hagerstown, MD)
Copyright: 2007 The Herald-Mail Company
Author: Tim Rowland
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Bong Hits 4 Jesus)
Bookmark: (Students - United States) ht


Class clowns in schools across the nation have to be standing up to
salute former Alaska high school student Joseph Frederick. Heck, none
of us ever made it further than the principal's office; he's made it
all the way to the Supreme Court.

For a class clown, that has to be winning the Nobel Peace Prize,
liberating France and ending starvation all wrapped into one.

Dude. You rock. That banner, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" that you displayed on
the street as the Olympic torch passed through Juneau in 2002, got it

The standard has been set, never to be broken. As pranks go, this is
Cal Ripken. Unapproachable.

And it's still going on because, thanks to you, nine stuffy,
black-robed, aggrandized lords in the highest, most hallowed hall of
jurisprudence in the world, are openly discussing the true meaning of
the phrase "bong hit."

And just when it can't get better, it does. Because the mightiest
pillars of the Fourth Estate such as The Washington Post and The New
York Times are having to explain, set off by commas, what a bong is.
"Frederick's attorneys argued that the bong, a water pipe used to
smoke marijuana, was a matter of ..."

My man. If you had written "Whizzinators 4 Buddha" or "G Strings 4
Aphrodite," it would barely have been better.

Borat only wishes he'd thought of this. Eeeeeverybody is uptight about
it. The Jesus thing, the drug thing - and I know a lot of people who
aren't terribly comfortable about the numeral 4. That's Class Clown
101, man - make as many people squirm as possible.

Not the least of which was the school administration, which Principal
Skinnered the kid back to the Stone Age. The school saw "Bong Hits 4
Jesus" as a pro-drug-use message.

Not hardly. Class clowns don't think that way. We're not into
political statements, we're more into disrupting normalcy. A banner
that said "Do You Walk To School Or Carry Your Lunch?" would be a
parallel comparison, although obviously it would have lacked the same

Assigning meaning to the banner was the principal's first mistake. The
second mistake was in even acknowledging its existence. Seasoned
educators must be shaking their heads ruefully, knowing that the
principal mainlined the student with the one drug he requires most:

You take attention away from a class clown and he will wither up and
die, like an orchid without water, or Jon Stewart without George Bush.

And speaking of Bush, the administration, represented by Ken Starr -
who will heretofore be known as the sex and drugs prosecutor - took up
the gauntlet for the school system and argued ... oh, who cares what
this administration argues anymore.

It's hard to believe any lives would be destroyed on account of the
banner, but that's never stopped the feds from getting involved
before, so why break old habits?

It's also rather ridiculous, but great, that this stunt has evolved
into a free speech vs. marijuana-use issue, reaching the supreme
justices of the land. I read some of the transcripts from oral
arguments, and you would have thought they'd been doing some firsthand
research. ("When you said you were taking your case to the High Court,
I assumed ...")

By the way, where's Douglas Ginsburg when you need him? As I recall,
he surrendered his nomination to the bench after admitting that he'd
smoked tree. So the one person who could lend expert commentary to the
panel - or at least issued a writ of cannabis - isn't there.

The court can rule for one party or the other, rule a partial victory
for each, or remand the case back to court of appeals. What they ought
to do is remand it back to the Juneau Board of Education, where it
should have been settled in the first place.

By the way, what is Joseph Frederick doing today? He's a high school

So in some ways, I'd say he's been punished enough.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake