Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jul 2007
Source: Grand Rapids Press (MI)
Copyright: 2007 Grand Rapids Press
Author: Katie Hooks


Nancy Crawley's column, "No blackout on freedom of speech" (Press,
July 1) supported the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the First
Amendment by appealing to America's most valuable resources, its free
minds and free markets.

Crawley also pointed out an obvious inconsistency: If open discussion
is valuable to society, then why did the Supreme Court abridge First
Amendment liberties in the recent student speech case, Morris v. Frederick?

This contradiction must be addressed.

The Supreme Court's decision granting schools the ability to censor
student speech that "can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal
drug use" cheapens the value of reason and personal responsibility.
Virtues that were crucial to the founding of our nation have been
replaced by the vice of patronizing micro-management.

Students will not be safe from dangerous substances if public schools
isolate themselves from the topic.

Prohibiting even information that is arguably neutral regarding drug
use (What does "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" mean, anyway?) from entering
discussions in public schools will diminish students' understanding of
drugs, as dogmatic opinions replace reasoned judgments.

Sheltered from reality, students will lack the means to make a
responsible choice when they encounter drugs beyond the sterilized
forum of the public school.

If public schools want to produce future leaders with a sense of
integrity, then they should lead by example -- responding to
provocative statements with counter-arguments instead of force.

Katie Hooks

Grand Rapids
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