Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Freedom of Speech Takes Another Hit from the US Supreme Court

In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the U. S. Supreme Court backed a high school principal's right to censor a student's speech - or, more precisely, to hold up a banner than read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at a school event in Juneau, Alaska.

Technically, the Supreme Court was probably right that the high school principal's action did not violate the First Amendment. A school, after all, is not Congress, which is prohibited under the First Amendment from abridging freedom of press and speech - as when Congress passes laws which fine broadcasters for "indecent" language. A school is not even a state or local government, which, under the Fourteenth Amendment, is not allowed to violate any amendments to the U. S. Constitution.

No, a school is not the government.

A school is a place where students are supposed to learn about the government - and about what it means to be an American - what it means to live and work in a society that tolerates differences of opinion and expression.

And this high school principal failed miserably in that job. By suspending Joseph Frederick from school for unfurling that banner, this guardian of education proclaimed to the world the devotion of that school to totalitarian values. To the traditions of Hitler and Stalin, not Jefferson and Madison.

So congratulations, Supreme Court, you've struck another blow not for but against fundamental American values.

Fortunately, we have an upcoming Presidential election. Of all the candidates, however, only one, Republican-Libertarian Ron Paul, has taken a no-compromise position throughout his political career of opposing government trampling of the First Amendment, such as Congress attempting to regulate media.

The Democrats, of course, have been critical of the current Supreme Court on many issues. But the Democratic candidates need to go further, and start speaking out every time the First Amendment is violated by government, and every time the principle of freedom is stifled by a small-minded principal.

I hope, in the next round of Presidential debates, all the candidates are asked how they feel about this Supreme Court decision. I'd like to see them unfurl a banner that says, BONG HITS FOR FREEDOM...

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