Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Seattle Times gives half-hearted rebuke of court's 'Bong Hits' decision

Apparently, The Seattle Times can't really decide how it feels about student free expression.

On the heels of the Times' sorry editorial endorsing opposition to House Bill 1307, the publication has now half-heartedly come out against the Supreme Court's decision to rule against Joseph Frederick in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.

The U.S. Supreme Court needlessly chipped away at First Amendment free-speech guarantees with a ruling elevating a high-school prank to a dangerous promotion of drug use. ... Frederick's sign was ambiguous. Was the 18-year-old supporting drugs or Christianity? The ambiguity matters because it places Frederick's sign within the confines of protected speech.

You can read the entire editorial here, but that's really about as scathing as it gets.

The funny thing is, check out this excerpt from the Times from Jan. 14, 1988 -- the day after the court issued its landmark Hazelwood ruling.

From a practical standpoint, school authorities need to control actions that infringe the rights of others or disrupt class activities. Nothing of that sort is in the record of the Hazelwood case. The principal clearly violated the First Amendment's anti-censorship provisions and a high-court majority has let him get away with it.

E-mail me and I'll get you a full copy of the text of that Hazelwood editorial. As Brain Schraum put it when he passed it along to me, what a difference 20 years makes.

No comments: