The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


December 4, 2006


Bong Hits 4 Jesus

U.S. court to decide “Bong hits 4 Jesus” banner case

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday it would decide whether a high school principal violated a student’s free-speech rights by suspending him for unfurling a banner that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”.

Student Joseph Frederick says the banner’s language was designed to be meaningless and funny in an effort to get on television as the Winter Olympic torch relay passed by the school in Juneau, Alaska, in January 2002.

But school officials say the phrase “bong hits” refers to smoking marijuana. Principal Deborah Morse suspended Frederick for 10 days because she said the banner advocates or promotes illegal drug use in violation of school policy.

Frederick, 18, had been standing on a public sidewalk across the street from the school when Morse grabbed his banner and crumpled it. Students had been allowed to skip class to watch the relay.

A few things are clear. First, this kid knows that “bong hits” is not exactly meaningless. Granted, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” is a bit silly and meaningless, but it is at least drug-related. But again, he was on a public sidewalk, and I don’t see any reason the school can punish him for this.

There is one key question here, though, which IMHO this case hinges upon:

Frederick’s lawyer, Douglas Mertz, said schools cannot punish students for displaying messages off school property at events that are not sponsored or supervised by the school.

Now, a school-sanctioned or school-supervised event may be governed by the school’s code of conduct, even if it’s not on school property. The school did allow students to skip their classes to be a part of this event, but the question is whether or not it could be considered “sponsored or supervised by the school”.

I would think it’s not. It appears that if they were allowing students to “skip class” to attend this event, that it was more of an understanding that it was not a school event, but that if students chose to attend, it wouldn’t result in punishment for truancy. That, coupled with the fact that the student wasn’t on school property, is enough to tilt my opinion in this one. Hopefully the Court will agree.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:50 am || Permalink || Comments (3) || Trackback URL || Categories: Constitution, Education, Libertarianism, News

3 Comments

  1. I think it’s an important and meaningful message. Jesus deserves some bong hits just like everyone else.

    Comment by Phil Welch — December 4, 2006 @ 7:44 pm
  2. If Jesus can turn water into wine, I think he can turn oregano or parsley into weed. I think he can take care of his own stash.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — December 4, 2006 @ 8:03 pm
  3. http://www.myspace.com/footofthemountain

    Above is a link to the band we’ve named after Joseph Frederick’s controversial slogan. We have no problem with standing up for free speech, nor do we have a problem with challenging the line between religious mudslinging, and good old-fashioned humor at the expense of an historical figure.

    Comment by Stephen Piemonte — December 6, 2006 @ 4:25 pm

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