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Daily Kos reports getting the following email from one of his readers:

A friend with a child in the Richland County,WI high school where George Bush appears today reports the following. Students were told they could not wear any pro-Kerry clothing or buttons or protest in any manner, at the risk of expulsion. After a parent inquired, an alternative activity will be provided, probably a movie being shown in an auditorium. (The school secretary reportedly said that students had the choice of just staying home if they didn't want to attend the Bush rally, but the principal subsequently offered an alternative.)

As it happens, that school district's superintendent, Rachel Shultz, is the spouse of a Republican candidate for Congress. Ms. Shultz, meet Tinker v. DesMoines. You may get a touch of deja vu, since it covers a pretty similar question: whether a school was empowered to prohibit the wearing of black armbands to protest the Vietnam war. And, stop me if you've heard this one, it turns out that public schools are not, in point of fact, like rallies in some rented auditorium where the audience can be limited to pre-screened sycophants. Let's hear from Abe Fortas for a paragraph or two, below the fold…

In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school," the prohibition cannot be sustained. […]
In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are "persons" under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved. In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views.

NEXT: Another Decided Undecides

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  1. “Bzzzt-crack. Attention. Those students not wishing to attend the rally for President George Bush are to report to the library for a screening of ‘Stolen Honor.’ Students are directed to sign the attendance list being passed around by Secret Service personnel.”

  2. With this election so heated, maybe the school is just being prudent in not allowing anti-Bush or pro-Kerry pins, buttons, etc. The last thing a school needs is a fight over political beliefs. In quite a few schools now students cannot wear certain colors (gang membership) or display ceertain flags because of the disruptive nature of such things. I’m not saying it’s right, only that this type of thing is not new.

  3. hey, Julian, are you as concerned with Wisconsin Democrats using children as slave labor in their voter registration drives?

  4. How can the president protect our freedom if he is ever confronted by anything but uncritical worship?

  5. Deacon,
    Why are anti-Kerry/pro-Bush buttons any less controversial or political than anti-Bush/pro-Kerry buttons? Usually when schools prohibit gang paraphanelia, they don’t allow the gear of the Bloods and the Crips, not just one or the other.

  6. What Wil Allen is referencing:

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2108710/

    25 cents gets you a dollar it doesn’t make the main page.

  7. “Usually when schools prohibit gang paraphanelia, they don’t allow the gear of the Bloods and the Crips, not just one or the other.”

    Exactly. It doesn’t seem like pro-Bush or anti-Kerry paraphenilia is prohibited…

  8. Nathan, I don’t know whether the story references the slave-labor aspect or not. Ann Althouse provided this reference on Instapundit, from the Milwuakee State Journal:

    “Hundreds of public schoolchildren, some as young as 11, are taking time out of regular classes to canvass neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Madison and Racine in a get-out-the-vote effort organized by Wisconsin Citizen Action Fund – a group whose umbrella organization has endorsed John Kerry for president.”

    So here we have children, coerced by the state to attend school, used as slave labor for the benefit of the Kerry campaign. Meanwhile, Kerry calls for mandatory public service by high school students.

    It is more than a little ironic that so many writers for a publication that publishes under the motto “Free Minds and Free Markets” have endorsed a slave master.

  9. Registering people to vote isn’t a legitimate civics-class type of activity?

  10. Thanks, Nathan, our posts crossed in the ether.

  11. So joe, if the Eagle Forum were using school children during school hours to register people to vote in heavily Republican areas you would have no problem whatsoever?

    Maybe Walmart should tap into your civic mindedness and have school kids spend 5 hours a week sewing crappy Kathy Lee Gifford clothes at a nickel a pop to teach them about labor laws.

  12. joe,

    Civics-class activities are usually not run by partisan organizations.

    But nice try.

  13. Oh, bullshit, Joe. I can’t improve on Althouse’s take, so I’ll just reproduce it:

    “The various people who promoted and approved of the idea are going with the theory that it is a great “civics lesson.” Well, maybe part of that civics lesson will be kids talking to each other about why the teachers are making them do this, why it’s supposed to be more important than those classroom exercises that the teachers normally think are so worthwhile, whether they are being exploited, and whether the effort is really partisan politics. And why shouldn’t they think such things? They are teenagers, primed to question and rebel against authority. I hope it is a valuable civics lesson that takes on a life of its own in the students’ minds. (Maybe some of them will email me — use my last name followed by @wisc.edu — and give me some inside information.)”

    I have more respect for machine politicians who simply seize power, and don’t bother with rationalizations, than for goo-goo types who hide their essentially authoritarian or totalitariuan instincts behind rhetoric which purports to be merely caring for their inferiors. If you want unpaid labor that the state can compel to show up, just say so, and lose the civic lessons bullshit.

  14. Will-
    Not really.
    Nathan-
    You win.

  15. joe: i think that would be more easily seen as true were it not for the umbrella group sponsoring it.

    think about a similar thing being done by republicans. whether its legitimate or not, it would be contested by dems in that case.

  16. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

    I’ll expect an 8 bits credit to my Reason subscription, ya swine.

  17. Thanks for the honesty, Julian. There’s an election to be won, after all.

  18. High school kids do politicking now? Amusing, since they know nothing about politics or how the real world works. I’m in my mid-thirties and I *still* can’t confidently pick the best candidate.

  19. “So joe, if the Eagle Forum were using school children during school hours to register people to vote in heavily Republican areas you would have no problem whatsoever?”

    If you’re going to do a voter registration drive, wouldn’t it make sense to do it where there are very low rates of voter registration?

    Do the right thing. Register the unregistered. Let the chips fall where they may.

  20. I think the program using school students during school hours to register voters can fairly be criticized, but it seems a bit much to label it slave labor when, according to the story, “participation is voluntary.”

  21. Why is it the “right thing” to register the unregistered? Are the responsibilities of citizenship so non-existant that people cannot be expected to get themsleves registered to vote, absent the efforts of 13 year olds who the state compels to labor for the benefit of a candidate?

  22. Just for the record, Rachel Shultz, to the best of my knowledge, is in no way related to me. I’d drop her to the bottom of my Christmas list if she was.

    …and I’d take pictures of her children holding Badnarik bumper-stickers and post them all over the internet.

  23. Do you really believe voter registration drives are a bad thing, Will? Really?

  24. Although I strongly agree with George Will that making voter registration easier is part of “the continuing effort to make the electorate better informed by making it larger,” I don’t particularly have a problem with a school that already has a slave labor program, sorry, “service learning component,” giving students the choice of participating in a voter registration program. Fight the real enemy: compulsory public service for students.

  25. Tell me, Will, how do you feel about the actual topic of this item?

  26. Well, let’s see. It is assumed by the state that minors lack the ability to give informed consent, and the state compels them to attend school, but they magically acquire the ability to lend informed consent when a memeber of the teacher’s union, in a position of authority, asks them to “volunteer” to labor for free on the behalf of John Kerry, because really, knocking on doors is such a superior “civics lesson” than learning the concept of federalism. Oh, O.K., it really is freely chosen free labor. How could anyone think otherwise?

    I wonder, how many Democrats adopt this reasoning when examining the issue of “voluntary” school prayer?

  27. Jesse, I don’t think public schools should be used for political rallies, and I don’t think political messages, short of terroristic threats, should be censored in any way. I just wish so many of the liberty-lovers at Reason magazine weren’t sublimating their love of liberty to a desired electoral outcome.

  28. Wil

    Did you read the story–it said participation is voluntary and parental approval is required. That addresses your concern for voluntary consent. Or do you similarly believe that playing on a school football team constitutes slave labor, since the students can’t really consent in a meaningful way?

    To the extent that everything students do in school is slave labor–an argument that I think has some merit–this qualifies as well. But I don’t understand the necessity for hyperbole. You can easily criticize this voter registration drive for lots of things: pretending to be non-partisian when it’s likely designed to benefit one party, and the description as an educational civics lesson when the educational value is probably way beside the point for the people who cooked it up are two that immediately come to mind. So why muddy the waters by calling it slave labor when it is less precisely that than things like doing math homework?

  29. Controlling political speech in this way is neither new nor partisan. A friend of mine was prevented from bringing in a Bush poster to a Lloyd Bentson speech at my high school. Seems to be fairly standard (even if I don’t agree with the sentiment.)

  30. What if the students had knocked on every door in town, and low and behold, far more Democrats registered than Republicans? Does it become de facto partisanship to do a registration drive because minorities, the poor, and recent immigrants are disproportionately unregistered?

  31. Schools are for instruction, not useless “service” activities. It’s the same problem I have with school sports – total waste of money and time. Then again, I also support school uniforms – which would make this whole issue a moot point.

    Also, I agree with Will – voter registration is pretty darn easy already. Kids should not be involved.

  32. Yes Joe, I think using forced labor to register voters is a bad thing. Tell me, Joe, do you really think forced labor is a good thing?

  33. I don’t know if hectoring people to register to vote is ‘the right thing’, but then I’ve come to the opinion, like in the Matt Stone / Trey Parker thread a couple weeks ago, that people shouldn’t vote if they don’t really know what’s going on. Since the people in question haven’t bothered to go register to vote in one of the myriad ‘official’ ways (get the form from your county office directly, driver’s license renewal, etc.), I’d be inclined to ask them not to vote, not sign ’em up.

    I also wonder about the people who get all indignant when they fill out a registration form for a volunteer or paid effort to get people to sign forms, and then don’t turn it in. Seems to me that, if you wanted to be registered, you wouldn’t trust some yokel on the corner but rather you’d go to the authority to register voters.

    As for the school banning Kerry pins/shirts/etc, haven’t we all learned that school administrators have a higher chance than the general public as being shown up as tin-pot dictators who act as a law unto their own? Is anyone really surprised? If so, would you like to buy this bridge I’ve got?

  34. let me tell you what I think of school uniforms….

    oh sorry

  35. The Bastard said:
    “So joe, if the Eagle Forum were using school children during school hours to register people to vote in heavily Republican areas you would have no problem whatsoever?”

    To which the JoeBot replied
    If you’re going to do a voter registration drive, wouldn’t it make sense to do it where there are very low rates of voter registration?

    I’ll take that as a “yes, I would have a problem.”

    The JoeBot continues:
    Do the right thing. Register the unregistered. Let the chips fall where they may.

    Ahh.. wrap it up in the old “do the right thing” mantra. If “the right thing” is having everyone registered to vote then make it compulsory (just as, I believe, Australia does), otherwise all you are doing is using children as cheap labor to further your own cause. The “educational” value of this exercise is non-existent.

  36. Participation was voluntary, Will. Had it actually been mandatory “forced labor,” I would be against it. That isn’t right.

    Now that I’ve answered your question. Care to answer mine? Are voter registration drives, in and of themselves, a bad thing? Or only when they might help a candidate you oppose?

    Patrick, I disgree with your contention that civic activities, school sports, choir, etc. have no education value. But you do raise a legitimate, principled objection. If you are against kids having gym class or spending tax money on school plays, then I can see being against civics exercises like this.

  37. Parse, if Johnny’s math homework directly materially benefits adults, then Johnny’s math homework is slave labor. I bet we could teach a fair number of 15 year olds to do basic bookeeping; why not just farm them out to whomever the teachers would like to see benefit from such an unpaid service? How about having them do landscaping for free at the local union headquaters, as part of their phy-ed class? Hell, my house needs painting; why won’t the local shop teacher send some brats over to do it for free?

  38. Joe,

    I’ll bite. I would say that voter registration drives can definitely be a bad thing. The idea that people so un-engaged, lazy or apathetic that they can’t be bothered to get off their asses and go register (although I understand it’s not even necessary to present yourself in person anymore which is an open invitation to fraud) should vote is frankly horrifying.

    On the other hand, these un-engaged, lazy and apathetic people probably have some marvelous ideas about government (like, the state – read taxpayers – owe me) that will make them the best, most responsible citizen voters ever!

    As for the principled abstainer, why should he be bothered at home by a bunch of snot-noses, burbling pieties?

    I’m sure it’s technically “voluntary”, just like joining the Young Pioneers was.

    Now if the kids got to hand out “walking around money” they’d be learning a useful lesson.

    “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

  39. No, Joe, you’ve been disingenuous in characterizing as “voluntary” the actions of a people (who are assumed to lack the ability to lend informed consent) when they are compelled to attend an institution, and asked by people in authority to “volunteer” in an activity which directly benefits those in authority.

    But to answer you question, which is irrelevant to the activities in question here, I think free people should engage in whatever political communication pleases them, including soliciting others to register. I have do not think the act of registering to vote is either intrinsically good or bad.

  40. The JoeBot continues:
    What if the students had knocked on every door in town, and low and behold, far more Democrats registered than Republicans? Does it become de facto partisanship to do a registration drive because minorities, the poor, and recent immigrants are disproportionately unregistered?

    What if the students had knocked on every door in town, and low and behold, far more Republicans registered than Democrats (much like what happened when the Motor/Voter act was passed, much to the surprise of everyone involved)? Would it be partisan ass-hackery if your suddenly because concerned with such a practice?

    Its a transparent use of school resources under the guise of “education,” just as it would be if the aforementioned Eagle Forum did it to further Republican registration.

    The positive thing out of this is if the people didn’t have the energy to register in the first place chances are they won’t have the energy to vote (that is, of course, unless by some magic means the Dem / GOP party machines just *happen* to follow up with absentee ballots / rides to polling booths… but that would never happen, would it? I mean, that would imply that this *was* something more than a simple lesson in civics).

    To continue to beat a dead horse (but with a new metaphor stick)

    Using school children to register people is to a civics education what using school children selling candy is to an economics education.

  41. Mr. Sanchez, with his brief comment, lends the lingering impression of a tennis referee dressed in impeccable white attire, free to judge but separate from the sweaty, grunting work below.

    Returning to the topic, I generally think the students should be given the widest possible latitude for free expression… short of creating utter anarchy in what are already chaotic public schools. Of course, the worst thought control is rarely in high schools but in universities as witnessed by the recent flap reported in the Baltimore Sun. Apparently, some attractive young female lawyers-in-training wanted to raise money for breast cancer. To advertise a “pub crawl” fundraiser, the women posed in what struck me as relatively normal 20-something “going out” clothing. Of course, this caused an uproar and allegedly set back the women’s rights movement decades. For me, the photograph of the attractive young women only underscored the profound importance of saving breasts everywhere.

    Maybe a presidential speech would create the opportunity to allow a peaceful protest and teach the students the value of dissent with civility. And then again in the words of the immortal Ash, “Maybe I’m a Chinese jet pilot.”

    One final note, registering to vote in America has become easier than almost any other activity involving government. Exactly what type of informed citizens are recruited by these “voting drives?” Am I supposed to feel better about democracy because someone who can’t pick the sitting president out of a police lineup registers to vote? And how exactly is having people fill out forms teaching students about civics… unless the point is teaching the youth that government is basically a series of multi-part forms where printing neatly is required.

  42. Gosh, I dunno Nathan, Joe may be bringing me around. I’ve also been thinking of adding a deck to my house; do ya ‘spose if I got a job with the teacher’s union, a shop teacher could get me some “volunteers” for that as well?

  43. Highway, in your “only people who know what’s going on should vote” formulation, what about people who don’t really know very much about current events and the issues, but who feel a broad philosophical alignment with one party, and opposition to the other party?

    Nathan, ‘I’ll take that as a “yes, I would have a problem.”‘ Well then, you’d be wrong. If there were a heavily Republican area in which there were lots of unregistered voters, then setting up a registration booth out by the old tree what where doze people done do they’z shootin’ would be a good and decent thing. I meant my comment to be supportive of registration across the board.

    “If “the right thing” is having everyone registered to vote then make it compulsory..” How libertarian of you. I’d prefer to make registration and voting voluntary, and provide people with the opportunity to make up their own minds.

    If there was a neighborhood with low registration rates AND a high likelihood that most residents would vote for Bush, and that neighborhood was deliberately left off the list during this assignment, that would absolutely be wrong. But that’s the beauty of voter registration drives for a liberal like me – since the unregistered are much more likely to lean Democratic, being absolutely fair and responsible in your registration efforts will inevitably benefit the Democratic Party. That’s why you don’t read about registration volunteers from liberal groups throwing out the forms of people who register as Republicans – because an honest accounting of everyone signed up almost always yields more Democrats than Republicans. This is also why elections in which the electorate is more representative of the country’s population as a whole tend to favor Dems, while those with a skewed electorate tend to favor ‘Publicans.

    This is why conservatives are so eager to define people who haven’t registered as unworthy to vote.

  44. Quoth the JoeBot:
    Participation was voluntary, Will. Had it actually been mandatory “forced labor,” I would be against it. That isn’t right.

    Now that I’ve answered your question. Care to answer mine? Are voter registration drives, in and of themselves, a bad thing? Or only when they might help a candidate you oppose?

    No one’s complaining about voter registration drives joe, they’re complaining about using school children during school hours to do this.

    Riddle me this joe:

    Many schools have fund raising drives; students sell candy / fruit baskets / god knows what and stupendously high prices. Participation is voluntary and requires parental consent.

    Now, what is the purpose of this? To teach kids about revenue, profit, loss, distribution networks, return on investment?

  45. Joe,

    Didn’t say “umworthy” – said “un-engaged, lazy and apathetic” and suggested that they might not make the best voters.

    Somewhat different from “standing in the schoolhouse door”.

    Please keep up the nanny state rabble rousing. It is mildly amusing.

  46. Nathan, it would indeed be partisan ass-hackery to oppose voter registration drives because you don’t like the outcome. Please take note which of us has voiced his support for voter registration regardless of the party it benefits.

    Will, Nathan, if you consider registering people to vote to be comparable, in terms of its public purpose, to putting a deck on your house, then I can see why you would oppose such drives. But that’s a really messed up way of looking at the world. The issue is not which candidate the registrants support; it’s getting people who are disengaged to take some responsibility for their government, to become involved.

  47. Nathan, you have demonstrated that SOME voluntary school activities are done to benefit the school and teachers. From that, you have concluded that ALL voluntary school activities are done to benefit the school and teachers.

    OK class, name that fallacy.

  48. “To advertise a “pub crawl” fundraiser, the women posed in what struck me as relatively normal 20-something “going out” clothing. Of course, this caused an uproar and allegedly set back the women’s rights movement decades. For me, the photograph of the attractive young women only underscored the profound importance of saving breasts everywhere.”

    How dare you make reference to such a photograph without providing a link? Sir, I am outraged!

  49. how exactly is having people fill out forms teaching students about civics… unless the point is teaching the youth that government is basically a series of multi-part forms where printing neatly is required.

    Exactly! There is no educational value in this. A big problem in the US is that there are few real opportunities anymore for kids to pursue their interests at say, private clubs in their communities, so all this crap gets shoehorned into public schools where it doesn’t belong. When I was living in Germany briefly during high-school, there were *no* activities in the school other than education. Sports (other than phys ed), singing, political activites, all that was in clubs in your community. I thought that was a much better situation. (However there was also the forced religion/ethics class… oh well…)

  50. No, joe, the issue is whether people who are compelled to attend an insitution, and are assumed to lack the ability to lend informed consent, can be honestly described as “volunteering” for an activity which is implicitly designed to benefit someone who seeks political power, with the support of those in a position of authority within the institution. You think so, because the forced labor in this instance furthers your political goals. Like I mentioned above, machine politicians who simply seize power, through graveyard balloting and the like, are more respectable. At least they don’t subject the rest of us to a lot of Good Government/civics lesson malarkey.

  51. Quoth the JoeBot:
    “If “the right thing” is having everyone registered to vote then make it compulsory..” How libertarian of you.

    I didn’t say it was a good idea. I simply pointed out that if registration was so important (as you say it is) then make it compulsory.

    I’d prefer to make registration and voting voluntary, and provide people with the opportunity to make up their own minds.

    As do I, yet interestingly enough you started off your post with:

    Highway, in your “only people who know what’s going on should vote” formulation, what about people who don’t really know very much about current events and the issues, but who feel a broad philosophical alignment with one party, and opposition to the other party?

    So let me get this straight: people should register and make up their own minds, but some people (who you assume just happen to be aligned with your political beliefs) who have decided its not worth their time and effort to register / vote need prodding? So which is it? People should make up their own mind (including not doing a damn thing) or we should use public school resources (we are not talking about independent voter registration drives here) to “help them make up their mind?”

    This is why conservatives are so eager to define people who haven’t registered as unworthy to vote.

    Oh, I don’t know. Its not like registration is all that difficult. If you don’t care enough to register why should I give a shit if you vote?

  52. No, Joe, Nathan has concluded that those school activities which are designed to benefit anyone but the students are illegitimate. He is correct.

  53. “Tell me, Will, how do you feel about the actual topic of this item?”

    Why are you trying to crush dissent, Liber-nazi?

  54. On the original topic, could somebody provide a link clarifying one way or another whether the ban on political buttons also included pro-Bush buttons? My understanding is that, in general, it’s much easier to get into a Bush rally with a sign saying “God Bless Our President” than with a sign saying “Vote For Kerry”. Yes, I know, some of those rallies are held on rented property where the party renting the place (the Bush campaign) can decide whom to admit, etc. etc. My only point is that this President has a history of only letting supporters (or apparent supporters) get near him. So I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if the school allowed kids with pro-Bush buttons to attend the event while barring kids with pro-Kerry buttons.

    Then again, partisans on both sides have a history of crying wolf, so maybe the ban was on all political paraphernalia, not just pro-Kerry paraphernalia. That might still raise free-speech issues (and yes, I know, the ideal solution would be to get rid of public education) but as a party-neutral measure it might be a somewhat more complicated question.

    Either way, does anybody know?

  55. However there was also the forced religion/ethics class…

    And they keep telling us how secular and enlightened those Euros are.

  56. And before somebody suggests that keeping Democrats away from the President is a security measure, allow me to observe that it’s a pretty useless one. A would-be attacker who wants to enter a rally could put on a button that says “God Bless Our President”. Sure, he might still have to get through a metal detector or whatever, but I’m assuming this is a crafty villain who’s already found a way around that and is just trying to attract as little scrutiny as possible from Secret Service.

    For instance, maybe his weapon is being smuggled in by a federal agent whose wife and daughter were kidnapped by terrorists. Or maybe the villain is a hot bisexual chick with a poison-laced plastic patch on her palm, and all she has to do is shake the President’s hand. Whatever.

  57. At my old high school there was a lot of vocational education options. It was all voluntary, it all benefitted certain groups (eg. nursing homes got candy stripers for free) and it was educational (potential nurses saw if they liked it). Granted this isn’t the same thing, since vocational education was opt in rather than opt out. I think if that was the case, I’d have less of a problem, but don’t see this as a big enough deal to get worked up about it.

  58. Quoth the JoeBot:
    Nathan, it would indeed be partisan ass-hackery to oppose voter registration drives because you don’t like the outcome. Please take note which of us has voiced his support for voter registration regardless of the party it benefits.

    Please note I haven’t voiced opposition to voter registration drives in general. Let the GOP/Dems/Greens/Libs/527s go crazy wild. Doesn’t bother me one bit.

    The issue is not which candidate the registrants support; it’s getting people who are disengaged to take some responsibility for their government, to become involved.

    So please tell me how this is a school’s function — specifically using kids to go an register voters. As I pointed out above its not like hundreds of thousands of other people under the guise of political parties, unions, interest groups, et al aren’t already holding registration drives. Stick to the issue at hand. Please explain to me the overwhelming educational importance of having kids go door to door registering voters? What have they learned, and is it worth the effort? My comparison with candy drives is thus: you can make an argument that having kids sell candy teaches them about responsibility, economics, etc. But lets face facts, that’s bunk. The educational worth of such an exercise is non-existent. The same goes with using school kids **during school hours** to register voters. You can talk it up all you want, but the fact of the matter is getting people who think will vote your way is way more important that the minuscule “educational” experience the activity provides.

    No one here (except you it seems) is arguing that voter registration drives are bad. What we are arguing is that to do so using public school kids during their school day is. Interesting how you keep trying to paint everyone who thinks this way anti-registration / anti-disenfranchised.

  59. Why are you trying to crush dissent, Liber-nazi?

    Huh?

  60. Mo, you make an excellent point. Having the students from shop class “volunteering” to build me a new deck is far more legitimate, in that building me a deck has far greater educational value than knocking on doors to register voters. So when can I expect them, and do I have to let them use my bathroom?

  61. Since I was curt earlier–mostly because I find tedious the practice of responding to reports of one political player’s bad behavior with “but what about the other side doing X!”–I should probably clarify. I don’t find this a particularly useful use of class time. I’d probably axe it if I ran the schools in question. I’m not as concerned (1) because it’s at least not flagrantly unconstitutional, and (2) because while the pedagogical value is probably slight, I doubt it’s lower than any number of other occasional voluntary club activities for which people would sometimes be excused from class when I was in high school. If the core of the objection is “this probably isn’t worth missing class for,” I agree, but that’s a judgement call–in this instance one in which parents are included–and doesn’t strike me as rising to the level of outrage.

  62. “No one here (except you it seems) is arguing that voter registration drives are bad.” – Nathan 2:49

    Oh, really?

    “Since the people in question haven’t bothered to go register to vote in one of the myriad ‘official’ ways (get the form from your county office directly, driver’s license renewal, etc.), I’d be inclined to ask them not to vote, not sign ’em up.” – Highway, 1:38

    “I would say that voter registration drives can definitely be a bad thing. The idea that people so un-engaged, lazy or apathetic that they can’t be bothered to get off their asses and go register (although I understand it’s not even necessary to present yourself in person anymore which is an open invitation to fraud) should vote is frankly horrifying.” – Fabius Cuncator, 1:43

    “The positive thing out of this is if the people didn’t have the energy to register in the first place chances are they won’t have the energy to vote” – Nathan himself, 1:55

    “Exactly what type of informed citizens are recruited by these “voting drives?” Am I supposed to feel better about democracy because someone who can’t pick the sitting president out of a police lineup registers to vote?” – Jose, 2:00

    So let’s not pretend that the people opposed to this effort are neutral on bringing unregistered people into the system.

  63. Julian, it has been very well established by now that Constiutionality is merely a matter of the shifting opinions of five people, so that is pretty much a dead-end at this point.

    Sorry to be tedious; and with any luck, by next year Commander Kerry will have those brats in high school toeing the line and doing time, at the behest of their betters. Have a nice election day.

  64. Julian,

    Pretty much agree with you as well. In the grand scheme of things it probably won’t change squat (although the principal still stinks to high heaven). But then again, I didn’t exactly find the “you can’t wear anti-Bush” tee-shirts (or “you can’t wear anti-Kerry” tee-shirts) story “rising to the level of outrage” either (although the principal stinks to high heaven).

    “What, tin pot principal makes dumb ass ruling about clothing? Say it isn’t so? That’s *never* happened before.”

    And I still want a buck knocked off my subscription price, ya swine.

  65. As for the pedagogical value of the exercise, I’d want to see the entire project, the prep work, and the other activities involved, before I made a judgement on that.

  66. Since I was curt earlier–mostly because I find tedious the practice of responding to reports of one political player’s bad behavior with “but what about the other side doing X!”

    To be fair, the voter registration discussion is a lot more interesting than the Wisconsin rally discussion, precisely because it’s not flagrantly unconstitutional. What is there to say about the original post? It’s clearly an outrage.

  67. Though judging by the uninformed snobbery I quoted above, just getting kids into the neighborhoods to find out why so many people there aren’t registered would appear to be worthwhile educational venture.

  68. By the way, has this story been confirmed? Not to cast aspersions on an anonymous emailer to Kos, but it seems like it would be fairly easy to confirm this through more reliable channels.

  69. joe,

    Please note your total and utter inability to distinguish between and individual registering and a “registration drive.” It makes you look either incredibly dumb or positively Rove like in your ability to spin bullshit.

    Let’s not pretend that people (like myself) who say “hey, if you can’t bother to register I could give two shits whether or not you vote” equates to “I hate registration drives.”

  70. Though judging by the uninformed snobbery I quoted above, just getting kids into the neighborhoods to find out why so many people there aren’t registered would appear to be worthwhile educational venture.

    Please, enlighten the unwashed masses. Why are so many people in those areas unregistered?

  71. “Please, enlighten the unwashed masses. Why are so many people in those areas unregistered?”

    Because of evil Republicans.

  72. Though judging by the uninformed snobbery I quoted above, just getting kids into the neighborhoods to find out why so many people there aren’t registered would appear to be worthwhile educational venture.

    joe, your ability to read between the lines is stunning considering all the article mentioned was that students were being sent out to register voters (not have some Algonquin round table about their voting ignorance / apathy).

    Since you seem able to infer what is not there please tell me what tonight’s lottery numbers are going to be.

  73. I take no stance on whether or not the school and student involvement in the voter registration drive was appropriate, since it would depend on a lot of details, such as the type of consent required, how much class time was devoted to it, incentives offered to students, whether the students were specifically directed to conduct registration in a manner that would deliberately advantage a particular candidate, etc. etc. And I know that such things have been discussed in this thread, but conveniently everybody has their own useful version of the supposed facts.

    HOWEVER, I see a lot of educational value in going door to door to talk to people, believe it or not. When I was in Catholic grade school we were given incentives to sell candy and pizzas and whatnot in our neighborhoods. (It was voluntary and subject to parental consent, etc.) I learned a hell of a lot from a guy who refused to buy from me and then lectured me on the right way to deliver my speech, make eye contact, etc. I’m not a professional salesman today, but it never hurts to know how to present yourself to people.

    Likewise, I learned some valuable presentation skills in going door to door on behalf of some candidates four years ago (they were both liberal Republicans, FWIW). OK, it wasn’t a school project or anything. My only point is that getting out there and trying to engage people with some sort of purpose can actually teach valuable presentation skills.

    Of course, I don’t know enough details to say whether the students in question actually learned any presentation skills. And even if they did, it could still be an inappropriate activity depending on certain issues of consent, non-partisanship, etc. I’m just saying that you can learn a lot when you go door to door on some sort of mission. That’s all.

  74. I mean, if the whole exercise was trying to figure out why people do not register to vote wouldn’t it be just as useful to know why they do? You know, so you could apply what you’ve learned from them to the segment of the population that doesn’t? But quoth the article:

    The group does not canvass in high Republican turnout neighborhoods because that is not part of its mission, said Marx.

  75. I learned a lot going door-to-door in federal buildings peddling cheap paintings. I learned how to construct a good cover story, and I learned even more from the info I lifted off of some hard drives with with my spyware!

  76. Kurt, why don’t you find out for yourself why people don’t register? Why would you want MY opinion, of all things?

    Nathan writes, ‘Let’s not pretend that people (like myself) who say “hey, if you can’t bother to register I could give two shits whether or not you vote” equates to “I hate registration drives.”‘

    Most people consider organized efforts to achieve bad ends to be, themselves, bad. Apparently you don’t – a thousand pardons.

    “I mean, if the whole exercise was trying to figure out why people do not register to vote wouldn’t it be just as useful to know why they do? You know, so you could apply what you’ve learned from them to the segment of the population that doesn’t?” There are differences between groups with high rates of political participation, and those with low rates of political participation. It would be worthwhile to study both.

    I think thoreau explains very well why actually getting out there and meeting people can provide you with unique insights.

  77. I actually DID go door to door selling art for a couple of months, and did go to a couple of federal buildings.

    It taught me invaluable skills about how to taunt security guards as elevator doors closed.

    “I’ll going to the sixth floor!”

  78. I wonder if pro-Badnarik t-shirts or buttons will be allowed? LOL.

  79. The reason only half the country votes is because the other half is more or less content with the status quo. There; I just saved kids endless hours of tramping around and wasting their time trying to register people.

  80. Kurt, why don’t you find out for yourself why people don’t register? Why would you want MY opinion, of all things?

    Because you seem to know. I happily admit to being as “uninformed” as the other posters on the subject; I like to think I’m not a snob but maybe I am. So, help us all out.

  81. I beg to differ, Joe. I am a well-informed snob. Actually, I prefer “elitist” along the lines of William Henry’s charming, “In Defense of Elitism.”

    A voter registration drive strikes me as going door-to-door giving away literature because people cannot bother to drag themselves into the local public library (or to the rather cozy chairs at Barnes and Noble). Will giving people copies of Don Quixote make them literate? Will the tome give them a sense of ownership over the franchise of Western Civilization?

    Possessing a voter registration card with no grasp of the issues, the candidates or even the system of government is no different than possessing a copy of Don Quixote without the ability to read. On a ship of fools, Joe, you want to ensure everyone has a captain’s hat.

  82. Most people consider organized efforts to achieve bad ends to be, themselves, bad. Apparently you don’t – a thousand pardons.

    And those people aren’t libertarians.

    There are differences between groups with high rates of political participation, and those with low rates of political participation. It would be worthwhile to study both…

    I think thoreau explains very well why actually getting out there and meeting people can provide you with unique insights.

    But is that what is happening? Is that the “mission” of the drive? Er, seems like “No” to me. Again, read the original article. Their mission is to use school children to go to (what they believe to be) heavily Democratic areas and register voters. That’s it. Their mission isn’t to “enlighten students by encouraging them to talk to the unregistered voter” — I suspect the less talk the better; they’re preening about the numbers they’ve registered, so more=better; in those cases chatty Cathy is a liability — its simply to register voters. Any “educational” value is residual to the effort, ESPECIALLY when so politicized.

    Would you be comfortable with a “non-profit, non-partisan” group holding “lets learn about Christianity” workshops with students (simply for educational reasons, do doubt) that actively ignores any talk of non-Christian issues (“because its not part of our mission to do that”)? How about a field-trip to a Pro-life rally to learn about the grassroots political process? How about Sam Phelps-Roper? Should he get extra-credit for exercising his right to political expression by screaming “god hates fags” at funerals for gay individuals? I mean, he did get the country talking.

  83. Jose Ortega y Gasset,

    No wonder you like Jose Ortega y Gasset.

    Do you think that he was a crypto-fascist?

  84. What makes the “registration drive” nothing more than a GOTV operation by a partisan organization hiding behind the fig leaf of “educational activities” is the fact that one does NOT have to register prior to election day in Wisconsin.

    From: http://elections.state.wi.us/sebpage32.html

    AT THE POLLING PLACE ON ELECTION DAY: If you wish to register to vote at your polling place, you must bring proof that you have lived at your present location for 10 days preceding the election. For purposes of voter registration, a form of identification constitutes acceptable proof of residence if it includes:
    1. A current and complete name, including both the given and family name; and
    2. A current and complete residential address, including a numbered street address, if any, and the name of a municipality.
    Forms of identification which constitute acceptable Proof-of-Residence (see numbers 2 and 3 above), when they contain the information specified above, include the following:
    1. A Wisconsin motor vehicle operator’s license.
    2. A Wisconsin identification card.
    3. Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit or by an employer in the normal course of business, but not including a business card.
    4. A credit card or plate.
    5. A library card.
    6. A check-cashing or courtesy card issued by a merchant in the normal course of business.
    7. A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
    8. A residential lease which is effective for a period that includes election day.
    9. A university, college or technical institute fee card.
    10. A university, college or technical institute identification card.
    11. An airplane pilot’s license.
    12. A gas, electric or telephone service statement for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before election day.

    At this time, Proof-of-Residence is all that is required of a voter in order to register at the polling place on Election Day. Although the Registration Form may asks for either the Driver?s License number or the last 4 digits of the Social Security Number a voter should not be turned away if they lack that information. If you cannot supply acceptable Proof-of-Residence, your registration form can be substantiated and signed by one other elector who resides in your municipality, corroborating your residency information. The corroborator must then provide acceptable Proof-of-Residence.

    As you can plainly see, only the flimsiest of identification, or just the word of another registered voter, is enough to be handed a ballot. This is aside from the new Federal “provisional ballot” regulations.

    Meg Kissinger’s Journal-Sentinel article points out that students as young as age 11 are being sent out on this quest. My worry is that, based on what went on during the 2000 election, they will be exposed to tobacco! It is not unknown for Park Avenue activists to show up in M’waukee, distributing cigarettes as an incentive to register and vote. See:

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/may01/smokes04050301a.asp

    Citizen Action is the same outfit that was involved in the campaign contribution laundering triangle that led to the crooked election of Ron Carey as head of the Teamsters. See:

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&db_id=cp105&r_n=hr836.105&sel=TOC_320165&

    ( House Rpt.105-836 )

    Oh, and the school officials who banned the Kerry wardrobe can part their hair with their upper intestines.

    Kevin
    (behind the Cheddar Curtain)

  85. I believe you asked this question on another thread. I appreciate the writings of Ortega y Gasset, but none more than “Meditations on Hunting.” And to your question, no. I do not think a “crypto-facist” would say, “La civilizacion no es otra cosa que el ensayo de reducir la fuerza a ultima ratio.”

  86. Kevin, that is the best tobacco joke yet posted, and it’s a pretty popular subject ’round these parts!

    Jose, “Possessing a voter registration card with no grasp of the issues, the candidates or even the system of government is no different than possessing a copy of Don Quixote without the ability to read.”

    The point is, the involvement in the political process is a way of getting them to become more interested in it. The hope is not that ignorant people will vote in ignorance year after year, but that they will be inspired to learn about the issues and become involved in other ways. Yes, I do support giving books to illiterate people – they will encourage them to read, and provide them with the means of learning to do so.

    If this were just a “knock and drag,” why bother with the pre-election day registration, as kevrob points out?

  87. Kurt, why don’t you find out for yourself why people don’t register? Why would you want MY opinion, of all things?

    Come to think of it, I’m curious, but I don’t really want to expend much effort in finding out why, for reasons too numerous and personal to explain here. So if you could just let me know, that’d be great. If that doesn’t work for you, I’d really appreciate having some volunteer come to my door, preferably after dinner, and explain to me why people don’t register to vote. That way, I won’t have to be so uninformed. Thanks!

  88. Kevrob,

    If I read your post correctly, one can vote in Wisconsin without being a citizen of the United States?

    Jezismarja!

    Still, I suppose there’s really no reason to limit the suffrage to actual citizens.

  89. Jose Ortega y Gasset,

    I’ve only read what he wrote on historiography and the nature of the historian’s work.

    Yes, but I forgot which thread it was on, so I just thought re-asking the question was more effecient.

    Why did he stay in Spain after Franco’s assumption of power?

  90. If this were just a “knock and drag,” why bother with the pre-election day registration, as kevrob points out?

    So again my question: if this is something other than “knock and drag” why is it only being done in what are thought to be heavily Democratic areas? Why isn’t its mission “to go to high registration, Republican areas?” Why only expose the students to one side of the story?

  91. Well, you’re not going to register a whole lot of people in areas where almost all the people are already registered, now are you?

    Why do you rob banks? Because that’s where the money is.

  92. Well, you’re not going to register a whole lot of people in areas where almost all the people are already registered, now are you?

    Didn’t you just get through pointing out that since you don’t need to pre-register in Wisconsin that that somehow shows that this is not a “knock and drag” exercise but some sort of civic “get to know your local non-voter” lesson?

    Which is it?

  93. Thank you, Joe, for giving me a clear point upon which I can define our political difference. You favor giving books to the illiterate. I do not. I should clarify. I am generous with books from my personal library loaning volume after volume to friends and associates. I am a patron of the local public library where the motivated can obtain the greatest works of literary history for the modest inconvenience of a library card. (I am sure this will infuriate some libertarian purists.)

    The leftist answer to a social problem usually involves taking wealth from someone (like me) and giving it in some “approved” form to someone else. If people cannot read, we will give them books, tutors, vouchers, caseworkers, tests, teams, tax credits, subsidies. We will grind books into edible paste and make them eat the things! It is an expensive way, Joe, for the leftists to feel better about helping one’s fellow man without actually helping him much at all.

    Perhaps the best explanation is a saying of my grandfather’s, “We like what we are given; we love what we have earned.”

    And Mr. Bourne, I ask you this… what would it take for you to leave your native land?

  94. Jose Ortega y Gasset,

    If a quasi-fascist like Franco came to power not much. Either that or I would have fomented a revolt.

  95. If I read your post correctly, one can vote in Wisconsin without being a citizen of the United States?

    Fabius, it is illegal in Wisconsin for a non-citizen to vote, but Governor Doyle (D) vetoed a bill requiring a stricter standard, such as photo ID, which the Republican legislature failed to override.

    http://www.legis.state.wi.us/senate/sen04/news/articles/pr2003-223.htm

    I’d ask people to consider if, when they registered, any proof of citizenship was required. Driver’s licenses and other ID’s don’t usually mention whether you are a citizen or a resident alien, do they? Most USAns don’t have a passport, or anything other than a birth certificate that could prove citizenship. Only a minority of us have discharge papers from the armed services, which might mention that.

    In the main, our voter registration rules are pretty much an honor system, which may not be able to stand up to a planned assault by ruthless partisans. This is nothing new, as any history touching on the urban political machines of the 18th and 19th century would show.

    joe, your contention that it is somehow valuable to take schoolkids out of class, miss regular lessons, and march them around the most dangerous neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Racine and Madison, under the dubious supervision of a notoriously corrupt group would be risible coming from anyone else. Most H&Runners will see your response as a reflexive partisan defense of any enormity that serves your cause.

    If I wanted to teach children about the importance of voting, I might prepare lectures on the history of the expansion of the franchise, the battle for suffrage for, first, all white men, then for white women, and then for people of all colors. But that would take actual work by our teachers, who much prefer game-playing and make-work to actually teaching.

    Yet another good argument for school choice, or outright privatization.

    Kevin

  96. Mr. Jose Ortega y Gasset:

    Thank you for posting the link to the controversial photo. You are a wonderful human being.

    This enabled me to see the photo and judge for myself.

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.olesker26oct26,1,1911018.column

    The overblown reaction to this makes me think there is indeed a certain type of feminist that just hates female physical beauty. Maybe one of the students is showing a particularly striking bit of cleavage (center, back row), but whatever happened to tolerance?

  97. Please include a login name and password for registered sites…I hate having to fill all that crap in…

  98. Nevermind, I got it.

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