It's a "Day of Silence." So Shut Up.

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Eugene Volokh weighs in on the case of Tyler Harper, who is suing his San Jose school after being pulled out of class for wearing a shirt declaring "Homosexuality is Shameful—Romans 1:27" in protest of his school's Day of Silence, an event sponsored by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. A Ninth Circuit ruling issued this week declined to enjoin the school's policy while the suit proceeds, on the grounds that Harper was unlikely to succeed on the merits.

As Volokh argues, this is a disturbing ruling. Originally, a district judge similarly declined to issue an injunction on the grounds that the school's action fell under
Tinker v. Des Moines' "disruptive speech" exception to the general presumption of free student expression. As Judge Alex Kozinski argues in his dissent, there was actually very little evidence that administrators had good reason to think the shirt alone would lead to so much disruption of the learning process as to trump Harper's First Amendment rights. It seems a little perverse, in any event, to reward students who might physically attack others for their beliefs by preemptively silencing the potential targets of such violence. But it's an understandable rationale, and if administrators in this case were perhaps a bit hasty in concluding the shrit would be disruptive, they weren't crazy either: There had apparently been other, vaguely specified altercations on previous Days of Silence.

But Ninth Circuit majority didn't rely upon the "preventing disruption" argument. No, instead, they relied on the argument that messages like the one Tyler Harper wore violate the right of gay students to learn. That means they don't even need to adduce some grounds for thinking the shirt is likely to be disruptive: Messages like the one Harper wore are apparently just per se not protected by the First Amendment. The majority's argument for this involves a truly stunning leap from unsurprising findings that various kinds of anti-gay harrassment make school and learning more difficult for gay students to the conclusion that a message on a shirt, using no threatening language and addressed to no specific individual, would be likely to have the same effect.

If that reasoning stands up, it seems as though a school would be at liberty to bar pretty much any kind of expression of moral opposition to homosexuality. The same, presumably, would hold for T-shirts bearing the text "Islam Is Wrong" or "Catholicism Is Intolerant." It's not that I can't imagine a situation where the total semiotic environment reaches the point where it really does interfere with a student's ability to learn—you couldn't blame, say, the one black student in a school for having trouble focusing on algebra if half the student body showed up wearing Confederate flag apparel one day—but where First Amendment interests are at stake, we need to demand a substantial case-specific showing that there's likely to be a problem, not just breezily cite a few summaries of studies and hand administrators carte blanche to suppress all speech on one (and only one) side of a controversial topic.

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  1. Sigh… This kid is a bigoted, homophobic, little fuck who deserves to be called a bigoted, homophobic, little fuck as loudly and as by many as possible.

    That said, even this bigoted, homophobic, little fuck still has freedom of speech. Therefore this little fuck has every right to express his bigoted, homophobic, beliefs on his t-shirt.

    Did I mention this kid is a bigoted, homophobic, little fuck?

  2. EDIT: …and by as many…

  3. Akira, it’s a school and this is a minor. Since when do minors dictate the rules to the schools? If the school doesn’t want biggotted t-shirts, then fine. If the parents don’t like it, they can petition the school board for redress.

    I see no problem with what the school did.

    JMJ

  4. Whew. Good thing the school is protecting them minors from t-shirts. Wouldn’t want to see a “BUSHIT”, Che, NWA, or any other “biggotted” shirt exposed to minors, no sirreee. Besides, what do they know?

  5. While I’m very sympathetic to the GLBTQ cause, I do wonder how the whole Day Of Silence thing can mesh with a school environment. I suppose as long as it’s only a very small percentage of students participating, it’s no big deal… but it’d get REALLY annoying real fast if over half of the school participated. Actually, at that point, even if you don’t sympathize, you might as well go along with it, rather than have to answer every question asked in every class.

  6. I think that Jersey is right. This is a school, and the student with the T-shirt is there to learn, and what he learned is an important lesson to carry in the world of work, i.e., that while he has a right to his opinion, he has to consider time and place to express it. Also that there is such thing as a dress code and has to abide by it.

    And that no matter what he thinks of some people, they will be his co-workers and he will need to develop some civility to deal with them. And thata you do not proselitize when you are on the clock.

  7. When I was a wee lad, my schools forbade miniskirts, jeans with big holes in them, going shirtless and wearing flipflops to class.

    I know some of this has changed in the past twenty-plus years, but are you arguing that public schools cannot (or should not) bar students from wearing apparel intended to provoke disruptions?

    And Romans 1:27 looks intimidating enough to me. The promise of severe punishment from God as s/he was believed to be circa 30 CE is pretty bad. Or would it have to be an Old Testament-style complete with a specific penalty of death by stoning to meet your threshold?

    As for “Islam Is Wrong” or “Catholicism Is Intolerant” t-shirts, if they were provoking daily fistfights in the lunchroom, I’d hope school administrators would be able to bar those, too, frankly. Though unlike the t-shirt actually at issue, neither of your what-ifs carries threat of divine punishment, and only in the case of “Islam is Wrong” is there an implicit physical threat to fellow students coming from the wearer.

  8. Did I just write a sentence with four commas in it?

    That has to qualify as a run-on. I’m slipping.

  9. Jersey, how would you feel if the school banned a student wearing a “Gay is Good” T-shirt on the grounds that the slogan violated the right of fundamentalist Christian students to learn?

    Akira, I bet there’s a more-than-even chance that the kid you describe as ‘a bigoted, homophobic, little fuck” is a troubled, closeted gay teen struggling with the cognitive dissonance between his own feelings and the Christian environment in which he’s been raised. Perhaps a little compassion is in order.

  10. Rights be damned, the world would be a better place if we all stopped letting our clothing speak for us.

  11. I think the court decided this incorrectly, but something that is being ignored in both the pro and con coverage of this is that the shirt didn’t just say “Homosexuality is shameful” but also “Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned.” (See “case of Tyler Harper” link in the original post.) The second phrase I can more readily see being considered disruptive and threatening by both school administrators and courts than the first.

  12. Kids shouldn’t have 1A protections for the same reason they don’t have 2A protections – because they don’t know how to use it.

    Stick them in uniforms, tell em to shut it and get on with the indoctrination, err, I mean learning!

  13. “Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned.”

    That is threatening and disruptive? I suppose if the school ran drug dogs down the hall and some kid wore a T-Shirt that said “Be ashamed, our school does not respect our 4th Amendment Rights” you would find that “threatening and disruptive”. What the hell is threatening about expressing an opinion? That is some serious Orwellian language. Someone once said on a different thread that the Reasonites would support madatory tattooing of “666” on peoples’ forheads if they thought that it would stick it to Christians.

  14. I’m with D.A. Ridgely; political statements made with t-shirts (or, especially, bumper stickers) should be banned. I’m going to start agitating for a new amendment to the Constitution.

  15. Privatize. Then oppression will be in the hands of Killer Nuns. As God meant it to be.

  16. Parse – I think they should all wear uniforms. That settles that – and a lot of other nonsense.

    JMJ

  17. JMJ, you mean the nuns? I think they already wear some sort of uniform.

  18. “I suppose if the school ran drug dogs down the hall and some kid wore a T-Shirt that said ‘Be ashamed, our school does not respect our 4th Amendment Rights’ you would find that ‘threatening and disruptive’.”

    John, please re-read my post and tell me where I said I would find it threatening and disruptive?

  19. My apologies SR, you did say “could be considered”. Sorry for not reading closer. I still think it is a terrible decision.

  20. I wasted a lot of time on posts this morning that the Reason server ate. Don’t have time to re-write them but two things occur to me:

    1. Why is the school sponsoring a Day of Silence on behalf of anyone? The school is supposed to be neutral not ever-so-selective in it’s endorsements.

    2. Why does the 9th believe only some speech is protected?

    Well argued Julian, but, the real lesson is that this is another argument for the abolition of the cesspool we call public education

  21. John: The proper analogy would be a T-shirt saying–“people who use alcohol and drugs shall incur the wrath of God, etc., etc.”

    By the way, how is the t-shirt in question any different than the “speech” of Fred Phelps? Or do you not consider Fred to be “disruptive”?

  22. Fuck the draft.

  23. Does anyone doubt for a single moment that this ban was imposed solely because of the political incorrectitude of the message on the shirt?

    For God’s sake, the school was taking sides in what is, like it or not, a hotly contested social issue. For them to then claim that they banned a dissenting message for any reason other than its content defies belief.

    I just love the way people who are otherwise completely credulous about the “Bushitler is chilling my speech” fantasy see nothing wrong whatsoever with actual minions of the state engaging in actual repression of dissenting views.

  24. Ron,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but Phelps is the asshole who shows up at military funerals and tells the families that their sons and daughters died because the U.S. condons homosexuality, right? The answer is that Phelps does this and gets away with it and I am not aware that the police do or should stop him. Just because speech pisses people off and is disgusting doesn’t mean that it is not protected under the 1st Amendment. Of course I were a judge and a defendent came before me for the crime of beating the piece of shit senseless after he showed up at their son’s funeral, I would give a whole lot of leeway. “Oh he looked at you funny and you felt threatened? Not guilty self defense.”

  25. Well said RC. The state can brain wash our children on every contentious issue of morality and society, but if anyone bothers to dissent, it is “threatening and disruptive” and the alleged libertarians at Reason are right there to help them do it.

  26. Well argued Julian, but, the real lesson is that this is another argument for the abolition of the cesspool we call public education.

    For once I agree with an argument against public education… If I ran a private school I would definitely stick all the kids in uniforms. The way they preen and fight over their duds is revolting. And don’t say “kids have always been that way”. I was a kid not so long ago and it wasn’t nearly as bad as today.


  27. I just love the way people who are otherwise completely credulous about the “Bushitler is chilling my speech” fantasy see nothing wrong whatsoever with actual minions of the state engaging in actual repression of dissenting views.
    Comment by: R C Dean at April 21, 2006 02:33 PM

    There is a difference – these are kids and the others are adults. The SCOTUS created this problem when they initially interpreted 1A as partically applying to kids in schools instead of wholly by treating them as adults or not at all due to them being minors. The courts have had to keep making up the rules to this halfway game along the way ever since.

  28. Rhyun,

    If you ran a public school, people wouldn’t be coerced into supporting you through their taxes and you could indoctinate the students to whatever view you liked.

  29. RC Dean:

    “The Day of Silence?, a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN?) in collaboration with the United States Student Association (USSA), is a student-led day of action where those who support making anti-LGBT bullying and harassment unacceptable in schools take part in activities to recognize and protest the discrimination and harassment – in effect, the silencing – experienced by LGBT students and their allies.”

    Perhaps you can explain how expressing support for the bullying and harrassment of gays and lesbians is a “legitimate opposing view”?

  30. Correct me if I am wrong, but Phelps is the asshole who shows up at military funerals…

    OT, the Florida house has just approved a bill pretty much directed at Phelps. It is expected to easily get through the Senate too.

    I’m not sure what the courts will find if it is ever challenged.

  31. John: You are missing the point. If Phelps were doing that at a public school, would you consider it “disruptive”?

  32. Metalgrid,

    I would agree with you if the state wasn’t taking sides in the issue by trying to brainwash kids into the PC thougth de jour is. If the schools would stay the hell out of subjects like homosexuality, then I have no problem with them telling kids what they can and cannot say. But if they are going to advocate views that are against a lot of people’s religion, then how can they tell those people top shut up and not say anything? That just becomes coercion and brain washing.

  33. I can’t study because my dad worked for an oil company and all the Earth Day crap the other students and school is pushing on me is so disruptive.

  34. Ron,

    If he just wore a T-shirt and was a student there, No. If he got up in people’s faces and tried to start conflicts yes. This girl seems to have done nothing beyond wearing a T-shirt. Further, even if Phelps is disruptive, saying shame on the school for condoning homosexuality, is no where near comparable to telling someone their son died as punishment for there being homosexuals. That is a total falicy.

  35. Free speech, indeed. If it was a Catholic school, those little degenerates would all be wearing uniforms, and the problem would never arise.

    Of course, if it was a Catholic school, they would all be aware of the fact that the Homos are all aboard the Highball to Hell, and there would be no confusion.

  36. “Perhaps you can explain how expressing support for the bullying and harrassment of gays and lesbians is a “legitimate opposing view”?

    I wish you were right, but I don’t buy for a moment that that program was just about not bullying people. You mean you can tell me with a straight face that the whole thing wasn’t about telling kids how anyone who objects to homosexuality is a biget?


  37. I would agree with you if the state wasn’t taking sides in the issue by trying to brainwash kids into the PC thougth de jour is. If the schools would stay the hell out of subjects like homosexuality, then I have no problem with them telling kids what they can and cannot say. But if they are going to advocate views that are against a lot of people’s religion, then how can they tell those people top shut up and not say anything? That just becomes coercion and brain washing.
    Comment by: John at April 21, 2006 02:43 PM

    Well, then get a majority of people to vote a new schoolboard in that will solve that problem – kinda like what happened in Dover with ID and teaching both sides of the evolution ‘debate’. After all, the content of evolution was against the religion of the objectors.

    I’ve pretty much made my views known about the issue of kids and 1A so I won’t repeat it again.

  38. John: How is the school condoning homosexuality by endorsing a message that says you shouldn’t harass or beat up gays at school, and why isn’t opposition to that message the same as what Phelps is doing?

  39. I assume Metlgrid, you won’t have a problem when the fundementalists Christians get a majority and start teaching ID and they expell your kid when he tells them in class that ID is bunk and Darwin was right. Afterall, kids have no 1st Amendment rights.

  40. The jurisprudence on schools and speech is:

    Schools can forbid students from using school facilities for expressive purposes. Public schools can, and many have, make students wear uniforms, or conform to a dress code.

    However, if they do allow their facilities to be used for expressive behavior, such as wearing tee shirts with messages on them, they can only pass content-neutral regulations. For example “no gang colors.”

    However, they can pass content-dependent regulations if the content of the message is going to be disruptive to the school’s operations. Sorry, Billy, you don’t get to wear your “white power” shirt with the swastika, even though Johnny is wearing Ronald Reagan shirt.

  41. Ron,

    I don’t think that is what they were doing. Why not just have a day to stop bullying? Lots of kids get bullied for lots of reasons that mostly are not about being gay. Why have a special day for gay bullying and no other bullying if you are not wanting to score points advocating homosexuality? Further, what it was is not the point. That girl apparently thought they were advocating it and expressed her opinion that it was wrong. To compare that to ridiculing the families of dead soldiers is ridiculous. To compare some high school girl wearing a shirt to someone like Phelps shows how far down the path we have gone towards censorship in the name of “sensitivity”.

  42. Actually, the gang colors rule would be an example of banning disruptive speech. It is entirely content-dependent.

    A content-neutral ban would be “No political endorsements in the school paper.”

  43. Joe,

    You certainly know your 1st Amendment jurisprudence. The problem is that we have hit the point that saying “homosexuality is wrong” is considered the equivilent of “White Power”. I need only point to Ron who honestly believes wearing a shirt that says “shame on our school for supporting homosexuality” is the same as harrassing the family of a dead soldier. We are going to wake up one day and our PC culture is going to look a whole lot like 1984.

  44. OK, the kid is a prick, and provocative T-shirts are probably disruptive to the learning process, BUT…

    It seems to me that if a government can:

    1) Build schools with tax dollars
    2) Force people to attend them by law, and
    3) Restrict 1st amendment protection of free speech within these mandatory schools as it suits them to do so…

    …those first amendment protections don’t mean much, do they?

    Not that this is the first or most egregious example of the state rigging the game to the detriment of the Constitution. I’m just sayin’, is all…

  45. WHile I have no gripe with uniforms, I don’t like them as a solution to this particular problem. It’s a typical “we’ll punish everyone to prevent the actions of a few” that schools seem to love.

    I also think that teaching kids that certain speech can be prohibited leads to some of the stupid ideas that people have as adults. No wonder nobody questions authority. If you have an opinion, air it, even on a T-shirt.

  46. If I were the principal I would have done something that would make the little bigot absolutely furious:

    I would have ignored him.

  47. John: OK, I admit I am playing devil’s advocate here. One could also have a day called “let’s not beat up drug dealers in school” and it would be a little hard to argue that there isn’t at least an implicit statement being made that drug dealing is OK. Schools for the most part do have policies that prohibit bullying, which, I suspect, are generally ineffective, as are “Days of Silence”. I generally support gay rights, but I agree there is an “in your face” aspect to what the school is doing that provokes the response they got.

  48. Ron,

    I am playing a bit of a devils advocate to. I would prefer that politics stay out of schools all together and that we just teach kids how to read write and do science and math and music ect and leave the politcs and social morality to the parents. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with uniforms. I guess the issue is what is so special about a t-shirt? What if this girl said in class in a polite non disruptive manner, “I think this is wrong and that homosexuality is a sin”? Would anyone really advocate punishing her? If not, why is wearing a t-shirt that says the same thing so bad?

  49. Someone once said on a different thread that the Reasonites would support madatory tattooing of “666” on peoples’ forheads if they thought that it would stick it to Christians.

    I believe that was me. I know I’ve said something similar in previous threads, so I’ll take credit for it.

    Yes, this is clearly PC speech codes run amok. Yes, the 9th Circuit is ignoring the 1st Amendment, and yes, if it the roles in this example were reversed the 9th would have happily censured the school district.

    But hey, guys, these are the Publik Skools we’re talking about here. I continue to be amazed at how many religious people support ideas like Zero Tolerance for drugs and alcohol, and then get bent out of shape when the petty tyrants who run the schools apply the same concepts to religious expression. If you give the schools the authority to crack down on one thing you hate, they’ll eventually use it for everything, including stuff you like.

    If the Publik Ejukashun system is biased against religion the answer isn’t to turn the Publik Skools into religious schools, the answer is to get rid of public schools altogether.

    That’s where religious conservatives should be putting their time and energy. Not in lawsuits that will go nowhere in the courts.

  50. David, there is a time and a place to air your views – and it’s not on other people’s captive time.

    JMJ

  51. John: The answer, of course, depends upon context. If the “message”, whether verbal or on a t-shirt, is in response to a message that one shouldn’t beat up gay people, it’s clearly a problem. The question is who is to blame for the problem, the person who expressed their view about homosexuality when they knew it would be inflammatory when taken in context, or the person who deliberately conflated a message of non-violence with a specific reference to homosexuality? It takes two to tangle.

  52. Captain Holly,

    The thread was about mandatory vacination for the HPV virus. I disagreed with you on that thread, but that line was just hysterical. It was too good to steal without crediting it.

  53. Put the little shits in uniforms, ban public schools, have a “stop bullying” day, figure out some way this t-shirt was “dispruptive” (the court didn’t)… These are all great ideas, but we need some kind of rules about when speech is ok in this country or something. If we came up with one, and applied it uniformly, then we wouldn’t be making decisions based on whether we agree with people or not. It’s just crazy enough to work!

  54. “These are all great ideas, but we need some kind of rules about when speech is ok in this country or something.”

    Matt, we have the 1st Amendment. Speech is always okay unless the government has a really compelling reason why it is not.

  55. The problem is that we have hit the point that saying “homosexuality is wrong” is considered the equivilent of “White Power”.

    The fact that condemning people for a condition of their birth is becoming unacceptable in polite society sounds like good news to me. “Gays’re bad” is no more valid an “opinion” than it would be if applied to blacks or Mexicans or whatever. On the other hand… I agree that schools are going overboard on the PC nuttiness. “Day of Silence”? Good grief. That’s like something out of Heathers. I agree with someone above who said that school should only be about the 3 R’s.

  56. David, there is a time and a place to air your views – and it’s not on other people’s captive time.

    Nor is it, by your reckoning, on car bumpers. So what do you feel is an appropriate venue for unpopular, or even horrible views? Our lovely forum here? A roped-off “free speech” zone?

    I say let people put it out there, and we can deal with it.

  57. “So says you, and Hitler, and Mao, and Stalin, and Mussolini.”

    I call shenanigans!


  58. I assume Metlgrid, you won’t have a problem when the fundementalists Christians get a majority and start teaching ID and they expell your kid when he tells them in class that ID is bunk and Darwin was right. Afterall, kids have no 1st Amendment rights.
    Comment by: John at April 21, 2006 02:51 PM

    Just like getting the government you deserve, in this case it would be getting the education you deserve. I have no compunctions about packing up and moving elsewhere. Besides, I’m a product of private schooling as will be my kids.

  59. If they are going to allow the “Day of Silence” protest to occur, then they should allow the other side to protest in the form of a T-Shirt. I do not see how one kid wearing a T-Shirt is more disruptive than many participating in a more organized protest.

  60. It seems to me that the John Roberts-lead Supreme Court would just love to overturn this.

    It also seems to me that there is very little difference between believing something and wearing your belief on your shirt. Which means this is tantamount to a thoughtcrime.

    But whatever. All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

  61. Everyone is missing the point.

    PUBLIC SCHOOL IS MEANT TO BRAINWASH KIDS! It is designed to create an obedient and politicaly/socialy uniform society. Freedom of expression is antithetical to the purpose of public education.

    The whole lesson that the girl is supposed to learn from school is to shut up, obey, and not disagree. No-one who goes to a public school has any right to do anything – Public school is not about rights or expression, it is about conformity and obedience.

    There is implied consent to force morals, ideology, whatever on children when you send them to public school!

  62. The fact that condemning people for a condition of their birth is becoming unacceptable in polite society sounds like good news to me. “Gays’re bad” is no more valid an “opinion” than it would be if applied to blacks or Mexicans or whatever.

    Rhywun, how do you feel about the “opinion” “Pedophiles are bad”?

  63. I see no problem with what the school did.

    David, there is a time and a place to air your views – and it’s not on other people’s captive time.

    The school does seem to have either sponsored or at least permitted the “day of silence” protest. This was a way of letting some students air their views on other students captive time. It seems like you should have a problem with what the school did in that regard, then.

  64. As a result, I don’t particularly see how 1A applies to kids.

    I don’t have my BoR in front of me, but I don’t recall there being any clause stating that the 1A doesn’t protect people below a certain age. If you’re old enough to form an opinion and express it, you’re old enough to benefit from the protections the 1A provides.

    My point above was that we’re talking about government-run schools that you have to attend…therefore, any restrictions on speech in that context constitute a case of the state infringing on the right of free speech, which it is specifically forbidden from doing by the 1A.

    As has been pointed out already, do away with government-run schools (or at a minimum, mandatory attendance) and this problem doesn’t exist.

  65. Nor is it, by your reckoning, on car bumpers. So what do you feel is an appropriate venue for unpopular, or even horrible views? Our lovely forum here?

    David,

    Not even here, I’m afraid.

  66. Matt, we have the 1st Amendment. Speech is always okay unless the government has a really compelling reason why it is not.

    I feel like I’m on an episode of South Park.

    Mr. President, when your administration came up with this “First Amendment,” did it not foresee a problem like this might happen?

    What do you intend to do about this “First Amendment,” Mr. President?

    Sorry for the comedy relief. You may all resume trying to figure out how to get the boy out of his shirt.

  67. Someone once said on a different thread that the Reasonites would support madatory tattooing of “666” on peoples’ forheads if they thought that it would stick it to Christians.

    LOL

    Dude, that is no shit. It’s not just Reasonites, it is all libertarians and includes the big O Objectivists and the little O objectivists.

    And I don’t even like religion.

  68. there is a time and a place to air your views – and it’s not on other people’s captive time.

    Unless it’s something we approve of like, say, a Day of Silence. Then it’s okay to air your views on other people’s captive time, at taxpayer expense.

    Trying having a Day of Silence at a public school on say, Good Friday………………


  69. I don’t have my BoR in front of me, but I don’t recall there being any clause stating that the 1A doesn’t protect people below a certain age. If you’re old enough to form an opinion and express it, you’re old enough to benefit from the protections the 1A provides.

    Well, I don’t see a BoR specifying an age limit for 2A either, but I don’t see us arming teenagers either. Not to mention seperate treatment of minors when it comes to crimes committed, etc.

    Minors are not accorded the full rights and priviledges accorded to adults, and the mistake the SCOTUS made was applying a mishmash of part of 1A but not all of it to minors, instead of just coming out and saying they were a bunch of kids who wouldn’t know what to do with 1A even if they had it, and they can wait till they can vote before they can start enjoying the benefits of 1A and 2A.

  70. Rhywun, how do you feel about the “opinion” “Pedophiles are bad”?

    If you’re equating gays and pedophiles, there’s not much I can say to convince you of the difference.

  71. It’s all bogus anyway, I went to 4 years of high school and not one single homo ever got stuffed into a trash can or pants’d and tossed into the girls locker room in his jock or BVDs.

  72. Minors are not accorded the full rights and priviledges accorded to adults…

    Clearly this is true in practice.

    But not because the Constitution says so.

  73. See what a tangle we get into when government starts pushing certain viewpoints in favor of others? That’s fine when the viewpoint is “Knowledge is good”, but it’s not so fine when taking positions on culture, politics, economics, etc. If you create a forum for certain viewpoints, then you open the door to the right for other viewpoints to be expressed, too. Don’t like it? Then get the government out of education. And, yes, I know that other viewpoints are being pushed all of the time.

    Frankly, I think we should oppress the heck out of the kids. Then they’ll want freedom all the more when they’re adults: “Welcome to kindergarten. It is the Year Zero. Ah, you are a spirited lad. Please go to The Box for the rest of the semester.”

  74. I like how the anti-homosexual bible verse cited is from Romans

    And can you imagine being the jesus-dork in an anti-homosexual t-shirt in a magical era when all girls are at least semi-lesbian? Talk about missing the party …

  75. Their high school kids. Who gives a shit?

  76. They’re high school kids. Who gives a shit?

  77. Rhywun, I’m not equating gays and pedophiles. From your response to the assumption that I was, I presume that I was that you think “pedophiles are bad” is a perfectly respectable opinion.

    I was suggesting was that if the nature of your sexual attraction is something you are born with, then pedophilia, like homosexuality, is something you are born with.

    If both my premises are true, you don’t really believe it would be a good thing if people stopped attributing “badness” to any innate quality. It seems to me quite possible that people might be born mean, or greedy or stupid. Should that be the case, I’m not going to stop thinking meanness, greed and stupidity are bad. It might change whether I blame people who have those qualities for the behavior that results. But I hope what you want for gay people is something better than, “Yeah, he’s gay–but it’s not his fault!”

    I agree that it’s a encouraging sign that less people seem disposed to have the opinion “gays are bad,” but it’s not because I think people are born gay. It’s because I don’t think gay people are bad.

  78. Keep in mind that the decision was handed down by the Ninth Circuit. Even if the Supremes uphold it (which seems unlikely), I’m sure they’ll come up with a less idiotic argument.

  79. It’s all bogus anyway, I went to 4 years of high school and not one single homo ever got stuffed into a trash can or pants’d and tossed into the girls locker room in his jock or BVDs.

    Those things were reserved for us nerds. When are we going to get our “Day of Silence”?

    But hey, being nerds, we’d rather have a “Day of Star Trek” or “Day of the Jedi” or “Day of Monty Python”.

    I can see it now: Differential Equation-solving contests. Chess play-offs. Star Wars trivia matches. Holy Grail re-enactments, complete with costumes.

    The Jocks would be humiliated, I tells ya. Then the cheerleaders would go out with us, for sure!

  80. And can you imagine being the jesus-dork in an anti-homosexual t-shirt in a magical era when all girls are at least semi-lesbian?

    Yeah, it’s great that we now push young girls into homosexual relationships because it pleases men to see it.

    I hope that comment comes back to bite you in the as someday, Ken.

  81. I would have ignored him.

    Thank you Thoreau- the article I read said that the kid had worn the shirt the day before, and there was no problem. He wore it again the next day and changed the wording. Then they pounced. They gave the kid what he wanted on a platter: lots of attention, and a persecution issue for the religious right to pounce on.

    Just like internet trolls- ignore them, and they usually go away!

  82. “If both my premises are true, you don’t really believe it would be a good thing if people stopped attributing “badness” to any innate quality. It seems to me quite possible that people might be born mean, or greedy or stupid. Should that be the case, I’m not going to stop thinking meanness, greed and stupidity are bad.”

    Are you really that dense? It doesn’t matter if being gay is a choice or not. Homosexual relationships between consenting adults hurt no one anymore than straight ones. Pedophilia, greed, meanness, etc. do hurt people and, whether or not one’s “born with it” is irrelevant.

    On a slight side note, it bugs the shit out of me when gay-rights folks try to win people over by saying that people are born gay or straight or bi or whatever. This argument implies that there IS something wrong with being gay, just that we shouldn’t discriminate against them because they can’t help it. A true gay liberation argument goes, “Chosen or not, it doesn’t hurt anyone, so fuck off if you don’t like it.”

  83. So let me get this straight. Lets say a school had a ?day of silence? for those people who are
    ?persecuted? for saying the Holocaust never happened . If a Jewish student went to class with
    a shirt quoting Winston Churchill saying the Nazis were mass murderers, it would be within the
    schools rights to expel the student for being “disruptive”.

  84. Andy, I don’t think I’m any more dense than you are. I was responding to the comment “The fact that condemning people for a condition of their birth is becoming unacceptable in polite society sounds like good news to me.” I challenged that because I like you, believe that it doesn’t matter if being gay is a choice or not. I don’t think acceptance of homosexuality needs to be based on the premise that “it’s unacceptable to condemn people for a condition of their birth.”

    Please re-read the original comment, and my two replies to it. Then tell me, in this particular instance, who is being dense. I don’t mind you repeating an argument that I already made, but you shouldn’t call me stupid while you’re doing it.

  85. “Parse – I think they should all wear uniforms. That settles that – and a lot of other nonsense.” – JMJ

    Why does JMJ sound like he can’t wait to move to a jack-booted 1984-ish Mao-style society every time he talks about stuff like this?

    Why does JMJ’s version of the education system he’d like to see implemented sound so reminiscent of James Clavell’s “The Children’s Story”? It all sounds so simple and pragmatic and obvious until you realize that creepy feeling on the back of your neck is that following JMJ’s simple solution to its logical conclusion, anyone who doesn’t wear their uniform ends up in a gulag or a mass grave.

    “Why do you wear those clothes? Well, it’s like a sort of uniform nurses wear.”
    “We think that teachers should be dressed the same. Then you always know a teacher. It’s nice and light and easy to iron. Do you like the color?”
    “Oh, yes,” Mary said. “You’ve got green eyes too.
    “If you like, children, as a very special surprise, you can all have this sort of uniform. Then you won’t have to worry about what you have to wear to school every day. And you’ll all be the same.”
    The children twisted excitedly in their seats. Mary said, “But it’ll cost a lot, and my momma won’t want to spend the money ’cause we have to buy food and food is expen– Well, it sort of costs a lot of money.”
    “They will be given to you. As a present. There’s no need to worry about money.”
    Johnny said, “I don’t want to be dressed like that.”
    “You don’t have to accept a present, Johnny. Just because the other children want to wear new clothes, you don’t have to,” the new Teacher said.
    Johnny slunk back in his chair. I’M NEVER GOING TO WEAR THEIR CLOTHES, he said to himself. I DON’T CARE IF I’M GOING TO LOOK DIFFERENT FROM DANNY AND TOM AND FRED.

    The teacher waited for them to finish their candy. This was what she had been trained for, and she knew that she would teach her children well and that they would grow up to be good citizens. She looked out of the window, at the sun over the land. It was a good land, and vast. A land to breathe in. But she was warmed not by the sun but by the thought that throughout the school and throughout the land all children, all men and all women were being taught with the same faith, with variations of the same procedures. Each according to his age group. Each according to his need.

  86. It’s a t-shirt, are they really all that disruptive? I mean, you read it and either just ignore it entirely, or agree or disagree, end of story. The kid isn’t the one teaching the class, so the students shouldn’t even be seeing the shirt during class time, when I was in HS we sat in rows, maybe you could say the back of the shirt would disrupt kids behind them, but then so do the cars driving around outside the window, or the birds, or any other number of things. If kids beat the disruptive shirt wearing kid up, whether its anti-gay or pro-gay or whatever, then they’re causing the disruption. Do teachers have so little faith in students’ ability to pay attention that a t-shirt causes all this ruckus?
    Linguist,
    Yeah, it’s great that we now push young girls into homosexual relationships because it pleases men to see it.

    Who pushes young girls into lesbian relationships? I could see you saying girls gone wild and stuff like that, but those are college girls, I don’t doubt you have examples, i’m just wondering who.

  87. Jersey:

    1: Where is there an age limit on the Bill Of Rights?

    2: If it’s a private school, then they have the right to make their own rules. If it’s a PUBLIC school then they must follow the rules that come with being a government institution. Rule number one of the rulebook states: “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”

  88. We “reasonites”, libertarians, Randroids – would, in fact, not support the mandatory tatooing of the Mark of the Beast.
    We tend not to support anything mandatory.
    That includes death.
    Hail Satan!

  89. Obviously the “Day of Silence” itself is more “disruptive” to learning than is a t-shirt.
    But, since indoctrination has priority over education, they’re more concerned when indoctrination is disrupted than when education is disrupted.

  90. But Ninth Circuit majority didn’t rely upon the “preventing disruption” argument. No, instead, they relied on the argument that messages like the one Tyler Harper wore violate the right of gay students to learn.

    IOW, Special People now have the right to not be criticized. The Ninth Circuit is certainly creative – unfortunately, that’s not part of their job descritption.

  91. Brian:

    The Constitution does not say so because the Founding Fathers thought it was too obvious to be put down. Do not forget that children were subject to the authority of their parents, and the Governmetn had no business interfering (even in the most flagrant cases of child abuse).

    As for children being punished for being irritating, isnt’ that what education is supposed to be? Yes, we do not hand tickets to adults who pick their nose in public, or make fart noises, but we all feel duty-bound to correct children who do. And I am afraid that his particular student was behaving obnoxiously and he was reminded that he was not old enough to get away with it.

  92. And making the case against the government, a small spot of brown liquid.

  93. That First Amendment stuff in high schools is really amazing!

    I mean, these kids are subjected to piss into cups for random drug testing, K9’s are sniffing their backpacks and lockers, they are incarcerated on campus for the day, they have to pass metal dedectors, need hall permits and have to jump through whatever hoop their Gestapo-minded school bureaucrats will dream up next, but you ‘Reasonoids’ actually expect their precious 1A rights will be respected by said educrats?

  94. but you ‘Reasonoids’ actually expect their precious 1A rights will be respected by said educrats?

    No, we just criticize all those tactics.

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