Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jul 2007
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The Buffalo News
Bookmark: (Bong Hits 4 Jesus)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Alaska High School Drug Sign Case Not a Banner Day for Supreme

If you were the principal of a public high school anywhere in the
United States, would you go all the way to the Supreme Court to
establish the fact that your students are dunderheads?

That is just what the principal of Juneau-Douglas High School did, and
last week a fragile majority of the court agreed that what is in
operation in Alaska's capital is less an institution of learning than
a day-care center for teenagers who cannot handle any thought that has
not been predigested by their elders.

We can only hope that other school administrators will not take the
court's disagreeable ruling as permission to also dismiss their own
student bodies as being unable to absorb and evaluate a robust
discussion of absolutely anything.

In January 2002, as the Olympic torch was being run by the school on
its circuitous route to Salt Lake City, students and teachers at
Juneau-Douglas turned out for a rally and celebration. One
particularly obnoxious teen took advantage of the occasion to unfurl a
banner that said "BONG HITS 4 JESUS." Said banner was quickly
confiscated by the principal, and the instigator suspended from school.

The court's approval of this administrative overreaction, and the
ability of Chief Justice John Roberts to cobble together a bare
majority for his opinion, was grounded in the idea that speech that
can even be interpreted as advocating the use of illegal drugs removes
it from the protection of the First Amendment and places it, though
the court did not use the expression, in the "clear and present
danger" category.

The court's ruling is a threat to the very core of free speech rights.
It carves an exception into the First Amendment for those who speak
something that their elders find discomforting. Which makes the
amendment meaningless.

If the goofy banner displayed across the street from the high school
is a true threat to the school's ability to discourage illegal drug
use among its charges, then the school's mission to produce educated
citizens with the necessary ability to scan, evaluate and make
judgments based on all sorts of messages in their environment has not
only failed, it has been ignominiously abandoned.

And its failure will be enshrined forever in the annals of the Supreme
Court of the United States. What a victory that was.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake