Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government The Courts News Politics

Clinton Prosecutor Now Targeting Free Speech 571

Posted by kdawson
from the whitewater-in-alaska dept.
Virchull tells us about a case the Supreme Court has agreed to hear, in which former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr will take the side of an Alaska school board against a student who displayed a rude banner off school property. The banner read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" and it got the student suspended. He and his parents sued the school board for violating his First Amendment rights. The case is nuanced: while the student did not display the banner on school property, he did do so during a school function. Starr is said to be arguing the case for free.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Clinton Prosecutor Now Targeting Free Speech

Comments Filter:
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @04:42AM (#17087540) Homepage
    Kenneth Starr will take the side of an Alaska school board against a student who displayed a rude banner off school property.

    What's up this guy's ass about personal liberties? anti-free speech, anti-free love; the only thing he seems to like is all the free attention he gets.
    • by kestasjk (933987) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:32AM (#17088030) Homepage
      "Bong 4 Free Speech!"
  • Some thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by agent dero (680753) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @04:42AM (#17087544) Homepage
    I first read about this over here [sozialkritik.com], and I really find the entire thing sickening. According to the linked article from The Mercury News, this was most certainly not during a school function. Just because the school let's out for something like the torch event, doesn't mean the students are still under the school's "juristiction."

    American public education must be stopped. The high school I graduated from recently enforced school uniforms, suspending students who refuse to conform.[1]

    For a country full of people shouting "freedom, democracy!" we sure let the next generations get systematically fucked out of their own freedoms.


    [1] This same high school suspended me (one day, three days in-school suspension, after which I was banned from using school computers for the rest of the school year) for doing as a teacher had asked me, hooking up computers to the network to use a deparment purchased laser printer, after said printers were used to look at pr0n during school hours.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by El Cubano (631386)

      American public education must be stopped.

      I could not have said it better myself. I had a good experience in high school, but as far as I can tell, that is by far the exception. Public schools are a mess. Parents have no leverage. Abolish public schools, quit taxing property to pay for schools and let the parents be responsible for their children's educations. When this country was founded private education was the norm. Heck is basically the only thing available.

      Incidentally, literacy rates in t

      • Re:Some thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

        by exley (221867) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:26AM (#17087736) Homepage
        American public education must be stopped.

        I could not have said it better myself. I had a good experience in high school, but as far as I can tell, that is by far the exception. Public schools are a mess. Parents have no leverage.


        I can see the points being made but I can't give up on public education just yet The fact that you had a good experience, I had a good experience, and undoubtedly many more have good experiences show that the system can work. Now, granted, my views are tainted by the fact that I did come out of a good public school system and I admittedly have a narrow field of view based on that. But still, just because it's fucked up doesn't mean it's irreparable. Maybe it is, but at this point I can't get on the "let's destroy public schools and dump the kids into private schools" bandwagon.

        I would really like to see public education continue as an option. Of course, it needs to be a viable option -- so let's work on getting to that point instead of just punting. The discourse in this country over the last several years makes it seem as if we are more intent on feeding money to private schools (vouchers, vouchers, vouchers...) than actually getting serious about fixing public education.

        Abolish public schools, quit taxing property to pay for schools and let the parents be responsible for their children's educations.

        Think about a lot of parents out there... Are you really sure you wanna give them this responsibility? :)
      • Re:Some thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

        by EnglishTim (9662) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:29AM (#17087748)
        That's all very well if you have good parents, but you'll be completely screwed over if your parents are too indifferent, fucked-up or poor to provide you with an education. You may not have thought much of your schooling, but at least you've been given the basic start in life. Take away public schooling and some will be left without any chance of improving themselves in life at all.

        Surely that's part of the 'American Dream'; that anyone can make it, irrespective of the humbleness of their beginnings. If you deny the most disadvantaged even a basic education, what chance will they have?
        • This is exactly why I would rather have a voucher system in place. Voucher money wouldn't take away money from local school districts funding themselves through local taxes, but it would be a way to give students more of a choice. Federal money and state money would be the source of the vouchers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by symbolic (11752)
            People who talk about vouchers forget something: just because one has a voucher doesn't mean that they're going to be *able* pursue their choice of education. There are many logistics to consider - like schools of choice already being filled to capacity. And then there's the transportation issue - if the school happens to be across town, who will be responsible for ensuring that the kid can even get there? I'd venture a guess that vouchers or not, for many, the public school system will be the only option *
            • If a school is filled to capacity, a lottery needs to be undertaken.

              If transportation is an issue, perhaps having public transportation permit school aged children to ride the bus for free upon showing their school ID.

              With a private school, he or she must first be accepted. With luck, the school will provide a scholarship to fill the gap.

              With a public school, the student may choose any public school of his or her choosing, provided it's within the district. Why within the district? Local taxes go by school
            • by The Monster (227884) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @12:24PM (#17089754) Homepage
              People who talk about vouchers forget something: just because one has a voucher doesn't mean that they're going to be *able* pursue their choice of education. There are many logistics to consider - like schools of choice already being filled to capacity. And then there's the transportation issue - if the school happens to be across town, who will be responsible for ensuring that the kid can even get there?
              People who like the Food Stamp program forget something: just because one has food stamps doesn't mean that they're going to be *able* to pursue their choice of food. There are many logistics to consider - like foods of choice already having been purchased by other customers. And then there's the transportation issue - if the grocery store happens to be across town, who will be responsible for ensuring that the food stamp holder can even get there?

              It is mind-boggling to me that the very people who make arguments like this poo-pooh supply-side economics. Does anyone doubt that a program that gives thousands of parents the means to choose where thousands of government dollars go will encourage good teachers, stymied by the Byzantine rules of the public schools, to start schools?

              I do the s/voucher/food stamp/g thing to make the point that the decision to have government funding for some good or service does not require that the government doing the funding directly provide the good or service in question. Another reason I do that is to show the idiocy of the argument that parents shouldn't be able to use vouchers at religious schools. Nothing prevents the use of food stamps for kosher or halal foods, or requires vegetarians to purchase meat. Those are choices left to the consumer.

              Even without vouchers to help them out, parents vote with their wallets. In Kansas City, MO, the government-run schools are so bad that a federal judge took over the district and imposed tax increases. A Jesuit school in KC, Rockhurst High School [rockhursths.edu] offers arguably the best education in the entire state, at a tuition rate roughly 2/3 the per-pupil cost to the taxpayers in the government schools.

              I'd venture a guess that vouchers or not, for many, the public school system will be the only option *left*.
              In the few places where vouchers have been tried, the public schools have also shown improvement, for the same reason why having a McDonald's and a Wendy's across the street from each other makes them both provide better service to their customers. But even if none of this happens, there's another alternative....

              Two members of KCLUG [kclug.org] home-school their kids. One of them fits the stereotype; a very conservative Christian. The other is a leftist atheist. They seem to agree on very little other than their right to choose things like how their their computers and children will be educated. They can choose what sorts of rules their children will have to follow, and there's no need for a court to decide what those rules are.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Elvis77 (633162)
        Why not outsource it to India????
      • Re:Some thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GauteL (29207) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:46AM (#17087824)
        "Public schools are a mess. Parents have no leverage. Abolish public schools, quit taxing property to pay for schools and let the parents be responsible for their children's educations."

        This is just shocking. I know public schools can be a mess and are certainly in need of reform (AND more funds) but abolishing them? How exactly are the underprivileged supposed to send their kids to school? I thought America was supposed to be about everyone being able to make something out of themselves? Well, without basic level education that is fucking hard.

        Just to inform you, public education works pretty well in a lot of countries. It may have flaws everywhere, but in most countries it provides a decent level of education no matter your income, thus making it possible for even the under priviliged to work their way out of poverty.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Temkin (112574)

          (AND more funds)

          Uhhh.... No. This is the big myth.

          The US spends an average of ~$10,000 per student per year. For a class of 25, that's $250k. Enough money to lease commercial office space for 9 months, hire a teacher with a MS or Phd., and have money left over to buy new textbooks every single year, provide low income lunches and obtain some kind of bus service where needed.

          The truth is, the money we spend on education is squandered on administration and in large part simply handed to bankers. Every

          • Re:Some thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:46AM (#17089036) Journal
            Actually, you're pretty far off. The $80k-$100 you plan on spending on your MS/PhD will be closer to $130k-$150k once you account for benefits and G&A costs - and that's in a pretty efficient company. Presuming you're providing music, art, and gym, you will need about 200 SF per pupil* at the secondary level. Now, that's only about $90,000k at moderate commercial rates ($18 SF/yr). Remember - you don't get the holidays and summer vacation for free in commercial space; you pay for the year whether you use it or not. You'll have to condition and light that space too, along with the requisite water/sewer and misc. charges - I'll be kind and let you go at $2/sf - about $10k. Now, you'll need captial to upfit for your application - you could go minimalist and get away with about $15-$20/sf if you're really careful, and they've alread provided grid and lighting. So you'll need $100,000 before you open the doors.

            Lets see, I get $130,000 for your teacher (including benes and fractional admin costs), $90,000 for the raw space, and $10k to keep the lights on. If you borrow your upfit money, you can probably capitalize the renovations at $15k ($3/SF/yr). Hmmmmm....you're at $255,000 - $5000 per year over budget - and you haven't bought a single book, leased a copier, or accounted for any extracurricular activities (like coachs and equipment).

            The school system is not a bastian of efficiency, but you will learn very quickly that it is hard to beat their prices using a "commercial" model. A near-top google link here [hwcsc.org] shows the private school rates for somewhere in Mass. The median private school charged 3x the median public per-pupil rate.

            By the way - if you want to know why we borrow money for schools, talk to your local Home Builders Association. Most people don't realize that it costs about $20k-$35k per pupil to build a school, and each child will need three schools before he/she exits the education system. The HBAs spend a lot of money and effort to defeat assessments on new homes, claiming they will be unaffordable if they have to capitalize all of the costs for services which their housing adds to the community. That is probably true, but that money will be spent, and the costs past on to everyone in the community in the form of bond fees. That's why schools have to take out bonds to build new schools - becuase the people who are increasing the school age population (people moving into a town, not the builders), are relying on everyone else to foot the bill. If you want to pay for it up front, add that tax to the new homes built. Heck, you could even offer a credit back to people who tear an old home down (since it takes that "residence" out of the mix) - so rebuilding on an old lot would not be subject to the tax (and would also need no new roads, schools, sidewalks, etc.). If you manage to get them to pay, let us know how you did it - there will be communities knocking down your door to pay your $1000/hr consulting fees ;-)

            *I am an architectural engineer, and I have designed schools, and these numbers come straight from local projects which are not "showpieces".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SonicSpike (242293)
          If government schools were abolished most US citizens would have a great deal more disposable/discrestionary income, even the poor. Most lower class rent an apartment in which a fair portion of their paid rent goes to property taxes. Here in the US property taxes are what usually fund the government schools locally.

          Also many poor students are trapped in poor or failing government schools. If government got OUT of the education business, then we could have schools which are forced to compete in order to keep
      • Re:Some thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Coryoth (254751) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:55AM (#17087866) Homepage Journal
        Public schools are a mess. Parents have no leverage. Abolish public schools, quit taxing property to pay for schools and let the parents be responsible for their children's educations.

        I'm sorry that the US public school system is so appallingly broken. I would like to point out, however, that being public is not the reason it is broken. There are many publicly funded education systems around the world that are doing just fine. Take a look at Finland for example, who finished first [bbc.co.uk] in a study of math, science and reading skills of students in industrialised countries. You might also note the other countries that did well, such as South Korea, Canada, and the Netherlands all have public school systems. Public schooling need not be a recipe for poor quality - the fact that public schools are so poor in the US is clearly due to something else, possibly political, possibly cultural. If it is a cultural problem then abandoning public schools is not going to fix it. I would suggest you stop making excuses and start working out exactly why it is that the US school systems sucks so badly.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by coaxial (28297)
          Take a look at Finland for example, who finished first in a study of math, science and reading skills of students in industrialised countries.

          This reminds me of a quote from the West Wing. The background story of the episode was that it was the day the President receives the creditentials of every foriegn ambassador. Eventually the President receives the Swedish ambassador. The ambassador leaves, and the President turns to his aide and says, "Did you know Sweden has a 100% literacy rate? How do they do
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cerebus (10185)
          I agree, but this is unlikely to happen as long as we have right-wing blowhards on the radio and in office telling everyone that the problem is that the school system is government-funded. These people hate government, but the fun part is that it is the existence of government that makes their particular fantasizing about dismantling it even possible. After all, would you hire a vegan to cook your steak? [idrewthis.org]
      • Re:Some thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gorshkov (932507) <admgorshkov@nOspAm.yahoo.com> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:16AM (#17087970)
        When this country was founded private education was the norm. Heck is basically the only thing available.
        When your country was founded, the literacy rate was in all probability in the single digits. It certainly was every else in the world

        Incidentally, literacy rates in this country peaked prior to the introduction of public education
        I would soooooooooooooooooooooo love to see a citation backing that claim
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          "When your country was founded, the literacy rate was in all probability in the single digits. It certainly was every else in the world"

          Actually, no. The literacy rates in New England were roughly similar to what they are now, and the literacy rates out in the deep frontier were around 50-60%. In the populated parts of the US, literacy was almost universal even back then. It was not perfect, but it was surprisingly effective and was driven by the fact that in the early Americas there was a social obsessio
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by killjoe (766577)
        Eliminate public schools and I guarantee you at least 30% illiteracy in the US and at least 50% of people who are unable to solve simple math problems.

        Most people can't afford private school and private schools won't take most children. Most people are unable to teach their kids anything either.
      • Re:Some thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

        by coaxial (28297) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @07:43AM (#17088262) Homepage
        While yor statements are patently absurd and would only serve to create a permanent underclass incapable of competing in the world economy, you did inadvertently hit one interesting point: The use of property taxes to fund primary and secondary education. You're right. That should be abolished, or at least majorly reformed. The tax revenue should be moved into a central pool and then divided equally on a per student basis and then distributed to the school according to enrollment. Afterall, it is an obligation of the state (read your state's constitution) to provide an adequate primary and secondary education to each resident under 18.

        I grew up in an economically depressed part of the state. I've seen what lack of property tax base does to the education system. Roofs leak. Repairs go undone. Out of date textbooks. (My high school world history textbook in 1992 ended with the Camp David Accords. Yes. The book was 14 years old, and it looked it.) Meanwhile those luckily enough to be born in the weathy Chicago suburbs got everything. Up to date textbooks. Fully stocked science labs. Multi-million dollar sports complexes. It's obscene, and it should be stopped. Of course it won't because they don't want their tax money being used to pay for someone else's school bus. Then that same suburbanite wonder's why the schools in the innercity and the rural parts of the state don't have any money to buy new desks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by coaxial (28297)
      [1] This same high school suspended me (one day, three days in-school suspension, after which I was banned from using school computers for the rest of the school year) for doing as a teacher had asked me, hooking up computers to the network to use a deparment purchased laser printer, after said printers were used to look at pr0n during school hours.

      Some how I suspect there's a bit more to this story than you're telling.
    • by idlake (850372)
      American public education must be stopped. The high school I graduated from recently enforced school uniforms, suspending students who refuse to conform.

      Public education is what has made democracy possible. If it's being hijacked by political extremists, then it needs to be returned to its roots.

      Stopping public education is the quickest way to destroying our democracy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      American public education must be stopped.

      It depends on what kind of end result is desired from the system. I want smart, scientifically literate, people to walk out the doors. But, that would also call for 'huge' changes in the way western countries work. Can you imagine what the world would look like if the majority of people simply had an understanding of scientific methodology and the basics of logic? I think an alien invasion would cause less change.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TyrWanJo (1026462)
      The really interesting thing about all this conformity, and where i think the issue really lies, is the current inability for people ectirpate themselves from our strange system of discipline. Free expresion is at stake, but i dont think to the degree that most people believe it is, this is one of those isolated incidents that could be forgotten in a few years time (a few moths even). I do believe, however, it does beg a reexamination of how we utilize disciplining forces within societal structures.

      Peo
    • Re:Some thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RodgerDodger (575834) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:28AM (#17087744)
      I dunno, from the FA, it sounds like a school function to me. The kids were let out of class, in the form of entire classes trooping down to see the Olympic torch go through, and with teachers present and supervising. Afterwards, they trooped back to school. Sounds like a school excursion to me, just like if they were on a field trip to go to a museum or a national park.

      I'm pretty sure the judge will see it the same way, in which case the kid is going to lose. I'm not even sure why a big gun like Starr would bother with this.

      As for uniforms: schools have the right to require uniforms, and the power to enforce that right. Not all schools choose to, but that doesn't stop the right. Courts have repeatedly ruled that students, while at school, have limited rights to self-expression (which includes free speech). This is nothing new. Heck, if the worst your school is doing is requiring a uniform, feel good; your grandparents probably faced flogging as a form of punishment for failure to wear uniforms. Get some perspective.

      Finally - the printer thing? If your teacher didn't back you up by pointing out he asked for the network to be hooked up, then he's a dick. If the school official who suspended you did so after being told that the teacher requested it, then she's a dick. Lots of people in this world are dicks, so in this respect it's good exposure to the realities of life - it's unfair and people are dicks. But remember - it's not the school that is taking this action. The school is a building, probably made with bricks. It just sits there. What you are seeing are the actions of a few individuals, probably reflecting the attitudes of the local school board - a school board probably elected by your community. Most high schools in the US have senior students eligible to vote. Very few of them bother (the 18-21 age group is the least likely to vote, and across the board people vote less in local elections than any other). Don't like what they do? Organise your fellow students - the ones old enough to vote, certainly, but don't ignore the younger ones. They can work on their parents or their older siblings (who are only a few years removed from the situation). There's a good chance your school board got elected with only a few hundred votes total. Even if you lose, you'll show them that they can't treat you like a carpet.

      In other words - stop bitching, and start fixing.
      • Re:Some thoughts (Score:5, Informative)

        by qazwart (261667) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:52AM (#17089074) Homepage
        Did you read anything about this case?

        According to the news reports: Some kids left the school property and went to local eateries, some kids horsed around, some kids went home, etc. Teachers did not line students up and escort them to the street where the torch ceremony was taking place. Does that sound like a "school sponsored event"? Apparently, there was very little school supervision. It sounds more like school was suspended to allow kids to watch the event.

        Schools also have little right to ban free speech even inside a school. Tinker vs. Des Moines stated that students do not "shed their constitutional rights when they enter the schoolhouse door." And, apparently in this case, Fredrick, the student who was suspended, hadn't even entered school property that day.

        There is a similar case, Bethel School District vs. Fraser. In this case, a student gave a speech full of sexual innuendoes at a school assembly. The Supreme Court ruled against the student because the assembly was a school sponsored event and the school had a policy where "[c]onduct which materially and substantially interferes with the educational process is prohibited, including the use of obscene, profane language or gestures." That assembly was on school grounds, students were strictly supervised and were required to either attend the assembly or go to study hall. Compare this to this event where classes were merely let out, and students could choose to go watch the parade or go elsewhere.

        I am also against public school uniforms for many of the same reasons. Schools love uniforms because it shows "they're doing something" while not costing the school a penny. I've successfully fought several school uniform cases. It violates freedom of religion where students are required to wear clothing that violates their religion's dress code. It violates freedom of speech where uniforms prohibit armbands. But, I've been mainly successful because I traced money changing hands between administrators and school uniform companies. Usually, school uniform requirements are silently dropped in order to avoid embarrassment. Students pick up on this change of policy with in a week.

        I find that your attitude rather distressing. Schools when given absolute power over student lives abuse it. In the Georgetown Independent School District in Texas, the principal decided to ban Star of Davids. She said they were a symbol of Satanism. Do you believe that is constitutional? In Detroit, some schools tried to crack down on Moslem women wearing head scarfs. Is that constitutional? You also seem to believe that schools may simply flog students for almost any reason. Do you really believe that?

        I also find your argument that a school is just the building disingenuous. Do you believe when a news report says "The White House says..." that the building is talking? When we talk about schools, we are talking about the administrators who run the schools.

        We need to actively challenge school administrators more. Too many students get randomly suspended because administrators simply want to show they're "in control" and won't tolerate any dissent. School administrators sometimes suspend students simply to put the blame elsewhere. I've had cases where students were suspended because they were involved in a school sponsored activity that later proved to be embarrassing. (like the laser printer episode).

        The problem is that most administrators know they can get away with it because they will simply suspend a student for 3 to 10 days. By the time the student goes through the appeals process and into a local court, the suspension is over and the damage has been done. At that point, most students simply want to get back on with their lives.
    • American public education must be stopped.

      Yeah, dang education. Who needs it anyway?

      And I wasn't aware you could use new laser printers to surf for porn. Oh the wonders of modern technology.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Spliffster (755587)

      American public education must be stopped. The high school I graduated from recently enforced school uniforms, suspending students who refuse to conform.

      Access to good education should be a basic right of every person. Therefore I demand that private education must be stopped to ensure a future for your country. If private schooling is stopped, the good educational staff will be available to everyone again and not just to those few which can afford it.

      I know, this is impossible and probably silly to be

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2006 @04:42AM (#17087546)
    There was a time when Republicans worked to lower taxes and respect individual right.

    Now, it seems like Republicans are for spying, big-government & 7 trillion dollar debts (which can only be paid for by cutting services WHILE raising taxes). Honestly, what does the party even stand for anymore? "Sacrifice the future for the next election".

    Maybe I was just stupid and Naive to know any better, and Republicans were always fascists in disguise.
    • "'" does NOT mean "Look out! An "s" is approaching!". Hone'st. -- phunctor
  • Mark this post as a troll if you wish, but we all know the real trolls here are the ones who are giving this issue so much attention. By discussing this article, we aren't really accomplishing anything positive..other than giving some clown free publicity and possibly some rabble-rousing. Bong hits 4 Jesus? Please forgive my lack of interest.

    -
    Wi-Fizzle Research [wi-fizzle.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      [sarcsm]I agree. We should save our time and attention and stop supporting free speech cases that involve speech that's stupid, annoying or controversial and instead choose our battles for those free speech cases that involve speech we can all agree with.[/sarcasm]
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:01AM (#17087628)
    First, this was not a school function. Second, I have no idea why this submission makes a deal out of who is representing the school. Oh, and on the subject of the stupid slogan, being in Alaska, we had heard of this already. My mother read the line and didn't understand it. She asked me, I explained it, and she still didn't understand it. It took a few more readings, and even then she wasn't sure if the guy was advocating people take hits in Jesus' name, or that Jesus needed a hit, or if there was some other meaning that was intended. Those comments are right in line with what the appeals court ruled, that the banner was nonsensical.

    What I never understand is why people get demoted over things like this. The principal was the one that went over to him and destroyed the banner. She still works for the school district in some capacity, but not as principal. She stated that she knew it was probably a violation of his rights when she did it, so she was found by the appeals court to be personally responsible, should a suit wish to be filed later naming her individually (usually individuals acting on behalf of an organization can't be named separately when acting in accordance to that organization's rules). If the district agrees she was so wrong, why not just fire her? They are knowingly keeping a civil rights violator on staff. Even if she is not the one that does it next time, if anyone else does it the district will be open to much more liability for "supporting" people that violate civil rights.
  • Settle down (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BigDiz (962986) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:34AM (#17087762)
    You know, I have no problem with this case going to the supreme court. As the summary states, this case does seem rather "nuanced." I don't think that many people would argue that a sign that says "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" should be allowed at school, or at a school function. So, as I see it, the court is to decide whether or not the situation constitued a school function.

    Personally, I would agree that that seems to be a bit fuzzy in this case. On the one hand, the kid was "on a public sidewalk" and away from the school. On the other hand, the students were released from class (presumably for the specific purpose of attending the torch relay, as the article says), and were accompanied by a teacher. IANAL, and this just doesn't seem particularly clear cut to me.

    This seems to be exactly what the supreme court is supposed to do. If they rule in favour of the school, and people don't like that, then they can talk to their representative and have legislation created to clarify the situation in the future. The same goes for the reverse. But when a case like this comes up, it is useful to have it go to the courts, and perhaps later brought to the attention of the legislature, so that we can have some clearly defined boundaries for the future.
  • by Elrac (314784) <[carl] [at] [smotricz.com]> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:44AM (#17087816) Homepage Journal
    not what the student did or what the school officials did. The student is a dumb fuckup, and the underpaid staffers are just floundering around daily in their inadequacy and incompetence. Everything's perfectly normal up to this point.

    What deeply incenses me is this asshole Starr, who has nothing better to do than poke his wiener into other peoples' dirty laundry and who clamors to stand first in line when it comes to demolishing freedom. Starr is a traitor to the American nation and should be hung - by the testicles.
  • Comments (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:47AM (#17087834)
    I think schools can only restrict free speech if it disrupts the learning process. It would be like a restaurant kicking someone out for not wearing the proper attire because it can disrupt the others who are being paid to be served.

    However, all this has to do with is the actual property itself. If the student wasn't actually on the school's property, I don't believe the school has one bit of authority to suspend him.

    A restaurant can deny you service if you are a famous person they don't like because of your actions, correct? If so, consider this. The famous person, as in this example, hasn't paid for the service, nor is guaranteed a right to the service in the first place. (Supermarkets are a different matter entirely, but please don't get me started on this.) Education is a different matter, which is more guaranteed for someone to have, let alone the fact the payment of the service has been completed. We taxpayers are simply paying it for the student so the student doesn't have to pay for it himself.
    • by creimer (824291)
      A friend and I were once threaten with suspension by the principal because we left the school through the back to pick up the public bus at that corner instead of standing in line near the front of the school with 40 other students. Somehow walking an extra 10 minutes to the back corner to get a seat on the bus was unfair to all the students standing in line. The principal said his authority extended to that street corner. We walked past that bus stop to pick up the next one down the street after that. The
  • by ReallyEvilCanine (991886) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:55AM (#17087862) Homepage
    Hustler Magazine, Inc. et al. v. Jerry Falwell [bc.edu]
    No. 86-1278
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
    485 U.S. 46
    Argued December 2, 1987, decided February 24, 1988

    In Garrison v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 64 (1964), we held that even when a speaker or writer is motivated by hatred or ill-will his expression was protected by the First Amendment:
    "Debate on public issues will not be uninhibited if the speaker must run the risk that it will be proved in court that he spoke out of hatred; even if he did speak out of hatred, utterances honestly believed contribute to the free interchange of ideas and the ascertainment of truth." Id., at 73.
    Thus while such a bad motive may be deemed controlling for purposes of tort liability in other areas of the law, we think the First Amendment prohibits such a result in the area of public debate about public figures.
    And, as we stated in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U. S. 726 (1978):
    "[T]he fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for sup pressing it. Indeed, if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that con sequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. [56] For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas." Id., at 745-746.
    See also Street v. New York, 394 U. S. 576, 592 (1969) ("It is firmly settled that . . . the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers").
    It was an 8:0 decision written by Rehnquist, and agreed to by Scalia, Kennedy and O'Connor. "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" is hardly "fighting words" which could lead to an incitement to public disorder so how the hell does Starr think he can attack this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It was an 8:0 decision written by Rehnquist, and agreed to by Scalia, Kennedy and O'Connor.

      That was in 1988. Different world. You've got pre-Columbine, pre-9/11 thinking. Different world. Everything changed. Columbine was the Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Any High School, Ever, and 9/11 was The Worst Thing That Ever Happened Anywhere, Ever. Everything changed. Terrorists. Protect the chldren. Different world. If you're not with us, the terrorists have won.

      There. Hope that clears things up for
  • by Marsmensch (870400) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:09AM (#17087924)
    is that Ken Starr needs a blowjob.
  • the problem with public schools today, is they are so tied up in trying to run their students fucking lives, they aren't teaching them you know, to read and write, which is what they are there for. the attitude that schools are jails for children is wrong, and anyone perpetuating that nonsense needs to be sacked.
  • by Konster (252488)
    Free speech so long as your speech upholds MY values. It's time for these Reagan (Stalin) administrators to be put out to pasture.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @08:00AM (#17088346) Homepage Journal
    Jesus HATES it when you bogart all his shit.
  • by BrotherZeoff (776525) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:23AM (#17089248)
    A lot of people give Starr a very hard time about Clinton, but I believe it was the nature of the office, not his own preferences, that made him go too far.

    The Independent Counsel was a position created in the wake of Watergate when the public did not believe the normal investigation and prosecution tools of the Executive branch were effective when high-level Executive branch officers were involved in (or suspected of) crime. The Independent Counsel, once appointed, and unlike a normal prosecutor, had only one target to investigate, an unlimited budget, and could not be fired by normal means.

    When Ted Olson, a high-level Republican staffer, was accused of lying to Congress, an Independent Counsel was appointed to investigate. He challenged the Independent Counsel law as being an unconstitutional fragmentation of Executive power. He lost the case, but Justice Scalia, the boogeyman of liberals, dissented. His opinion contained an uncanny prediction of the Starr investigation of Clinton. He saw the dangers of the office of the Independent Counsel.

    What if [the appointing judges] are politically partisan, as judges have been known to be, and select a prosecutor antagonistic to the administration, or even to the particular individual who has been selected for this special treatment? There is no remedy for that, not even a political one. Judges, after all, have life tenure, and appointing a surefire enthusiastic prosecutor could hardly be considered an impeachable offense. So if there is anything wrong with the selection, there is effectively no one to blame. The independent counsel thus selected proceeds to assemble a staff. As I observed earlier, in the nature of things this has to be done by finding lawyers who are willing to lay aside their current careers for an indeterminate amount of time, to take on a job that has no prospect of permanence and little prospect for promotion. One thing is certain, however: it involves investigating and perhaps prosecuting a particular individual. Can one imagine a less equitable manner of fulfilling the executive responsibility to investigate and prosecute? What would be the reaction if, in an area not covered by this statute, the Justice Department posted a public notice inviting applicants to assist in an investigation and possible prosecution of a certain prominent person? Does this not invite what Justice Jackson described as "picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him"? To be sure, the investigation must relate to the area of criminal offense specified by the life-tenured judges. But that has often been (and nothing prevents it from being) very broad - and should the independent counsel or his or her staff come up with something beyond that scope, nothing prevents him or her from asking the judges to expand his or her authority or, if that does not work, referring it to the Attorney General, whereupon the whole process would recommence and, if there was "reasonable basis to believe" that further investigation was warranted, that new offense would be referred to the Special Division, which would in all likelihood assign it to the same [487 U.S. 654, 731] independent counsel. It seems to me not conducive to fairness. But even if it were entirely evident that unfairness was in fact the result - the judges hostile to the administration, the independent counsel an old foe of the President, the staff refugees from the recently defeated administration - there would be no one accountable to the public to whom the blame could be assigned.

    . . . .

    The above described possibilities of irresponsible conduct must, as I say, be considered in judging the constitutional acceptability of this process. But they will rarely occur, and in the average case the threat to fairness is quite different. As described in the brief filed on behalf of three ex-Attorneys General from each of the last three administrations:

    "The problem is less spectacul

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @12:01PM (#17089576) Homepage Journal

    I actually used this case in my advocacy class this semester. I had to argue for the school in a faux case that had some similarities to Morse. I also had to sift through the Supreme Court and 9th Circuit cases relating to school activities and free speech. The 9th Circuit (the West Coast) tends to take a liberal view of free speech, especially when compared to the 4th Circuit (Southeast), for example. The Supreme Court clearly articulated the notion in Tinker that students do not leave their 1st Amendment rights at the door when they enter school grounds. However, subsequent cases have been ruled such that vulgar, lewd speech may be limited, and controversial speech that might appear to be under the impimatur of the school may be limited as well. If the speech is disruptive of the educational mission, it may be curtailed by the school. However, clearly political speech, so long as it is not an attack on a specific group or class of individuals ("Latinos should burn in hell") is solidly protected.

    The interesting thing about Morse as the article points out, is that this is really about speech related to illegal drugs. Should the school be allowed to curtail student speech any time it has to do with drugs? How attenuated can the connection between the student and the school be? Should students who are doing homework together in a public library have their speech restricted because onlookers might somethow think that the school is tacitly approving that speech? The Supreme Court will not be able to re-examine the facts in the case, only the holding of the case as it relates to the Constitution. So the arguments will be about how close the connection was between the school and the student during that activity, what the nature of the speech was, what the speech's effect on onlookers was, and whether the speech was inherently political. I wouldn't be surprised if the school's student behavior policies and the notice students receive about these policies comes under scrutiny as well.

    Before you jump to the conclusion that the "conservative" Court is going to side with the school, remember that Scalia didn't have a problem with medical marijuana. This is a Court that is very wary of state action, and it is entirely possible that Morse will be decided in favor of the student, thereby cementing the exact result our good friend Mr. Starr would rather avoid.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

Working...