Club Anarchy

Why high school sucks


They don't care much for anarchy at Sissonville High. Late in 2001, the West Virginia school barred 15-year-old Katie Sierra from starting an Anarchy Club, then suspended her for three days when she leafleted students to join the club anyway. It also scolded her for wearing a T-shirt bearing this handwritten comment: "When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America." In November, the Kanawha County Circuit Court upheld the school's right to do all of the above.

The local Charleston Daily Mail praised the decision, arguing that "Americans cherish the freedoms guaranteed them under the Constitution, but the thoroughly egocentric exercise of those rights becomes tiresome." For those worried that tiresomeness might not be a legal doctrine, the paper added that while free speech is "sacred," there is no "constitutional right to force everybody else in society to listen during school hours."

Sierra tried to appeal the decision, but the West Virginia Supreme Court refused the case. That's odd, because settled law appears to be on her side, to judge from Tinker v. Des Moines, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1969 decision allowing high school students to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War.

Katie doesn't plan to give up on anarchy anytime soon, but she won't be doing it at school. In November, tired of harassment by fellow students, the girl opted to telecommute to school, avoiding bullies and fashion police altogether.