Monday, April 2, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus, the First Amendment, and the Public School Problem

I thought it was about time to say something about this case. Apparently, it doesn't stand for "Bring On the National Games, Head Into Town for Jesus." Shocking. The basic facts are: an Alaskan student made a banner and displayed it--not on school property, mind you (if I'm not mistaken, he ditched school to attend the non-school-related event) at a town event watching the Olympic runners on their way to Salt Lake City. The banner read: Bong Hits 4 Jesus. Principal Deborah Morse tore down the banner and suspended the student--Joseph Frederick--for 10 days.

Now, the general idea is that free speech is afforded less protection at schools, due to increased importance of maintaining a well-ordered and efficient environment for shaping young minds. And to tell you the truth, I'm all for it. Problem is, if public schools start making that argument too well, it's going to raise the question: given the importance of efficiency and order, what on God's green earth is the government doing in the education business in the first place?

In other words, why don't we let the argument from the importance of education go the whole distance in solving the First Amendment problem in public schools: Do away with public schools.

(Speaking of First Amendment issues at public schools, here's one to watch out for: Students sue to wear anti-gay T-shirts at school on National Day of Silence on April 18.)

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