'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' Hits the SC

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case made famous during the 2002 Olympic torch run when high school student Joseph Frederick unfurled, for the TV cameras, a huge banner with the phrase, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" written across the face.

(
Washington Post) By his own admission, he did it for the juvenile, albeit innocent, reasons that it was funny and it would get him on TV. His principal at the time, Deborah Morse, did not see the humor, but probably noticed the TV cameras and asked him to remove the banner. When he refused, she tore down the sign and suspended him for 10 days... Frederick sued, alleging that she had violated his right to freedom of speech. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him, ruling that school officials may not "punish and censor non-disruptive" speech by students at school-sponsored events simply because they object to the message.

On one side of the case is Kenneth Starr, who is defending the principal, Deborah Morse. And on the other side of the case is the ACLU, who is defending Mr. Frederick. Now usually, I wouldn’t side with the ACLU or the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but in this instance, I have to. Because you can’t censor funny, damn it! And 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' is undeniably funny.

When I was in high school I had my share of run-ins with misguided authority figures. I’ve had to turn T-shirts inside-out and had several baseball hats confiscated for no real reason other than it “violated school policy”. The way I looked at it was, I violated the so-called school policy but they were violating my constitutional rights. Not to mention, since we are a huge highschool football town, the policy was never enforced when it came to students who played that particular sport.

So, I hope Joseph Frederick wins this case for all of us who have had to put up with overbearing principals and school staff. Unless the student is using speech that is hateful or speech which is obviously offensive you can’t stop him or her from exercising their freedom. This is America, after all.