Any Day Now, Kids Will Be Sipping Martinis in Math Class

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Once a week for two months, a Vermont school kid sported a shirt depicting President Bush's head superimposed on the body of a chicken. Just in case the message was unclear, words below the shirt read "Chicken Hawk In Chief." A razor blade, a straw, three lines of cocaine, and a martini were thrown in for good measure. What did school authorities object to? Apparently, the martini and cocaine images were way out of line. Seventh grader Zachery Guiles was undeterred:

After the school official ordered Guiles to turn the shirt inside out, tape over the shirt's images of drugs and alcohol or change into another shirt, he returned to school another day with duct tape covering the offending images and "Censored" scrawled on the tape.

After a one-day suspension, he sued. As a three-judge panel noted Wednesday, portraying President Bush as a cocaine addict with a chicken's body is not a pro-drug message. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan says the school can't censor the Bush chicken or even the offending martini.

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  1. Isn’t this where rm2muv tells us how great (s)he and all the other public school teachers (who undoubtedly ratted the kid out) and administrators (who punished him) are? How schools aren’t like prisons?

    I love that this kid complied with the rules, but
    was suspended anyways. Stick in their eye kid! You’ve got a fan!

    The sooner we raze the public pris…, I mean schools, with King-Kong sized bulldozers, the better.

  2. he returned to school another day with duct tape covering the offending images and “Censored” scrawled on the tape.

    I actually used to do the same thing in high school. Strangely, some of the worse images got past the censors unducttaped.

  3. Freaking hilarious!

  4. One wonders what the judges would have said if the school had suspended him for a t-shirt depicting Howard Dean in such manner?

  5. They probably would have bought him a pony, because superintendants love Democrats. Right?

  6. Since when is pro-drug speech not protected by the 1st Amendment?

  7. “The sooner we raze the public pris…, I mean schools, with King-Kong sized bulldozers, the better.”

    Uh, yeah. Then, when everyone goes to private schools, we won’t have teachers and principals telling kids what they can wear.

  8. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan says the school can’t censor the Bush chicken or even the offending martini.

    Thanks to the founders of our republic.

  9. I first read it as “Sipping Martinis in Meth Class”.

  10. Not if we do it with comically oversized bulldozers!

  11. Any Day Now, Kids Will Be Sipping Martinis in Math Class

    All the better to visualize imaginary numbers!

  12. Not if we do it with comically oversized bulldozers!

  13. Were it not for the authorities at his school, nobody would know anything about the message on his t-shirt.

    Good job, guys. You just helped the whole world learn about an image that you didn’t want anybody to see.

  14. This idea that private compulsion is the equivalent of public compulsion is strange to me.

  15. This idea that private compulsion is the equivalent of public compulsion is strange to me.

  16. This idea that private compulsion is the equivalent of public compulsion is strange to me.

  17. Pay Pal. Server. Please.

  18. Reminds me of my senior year in high school when one of the more popular kids (he was the quarterback on the football team) wore a t-shirt that said

    BULL
    SHIT

    The vice-principal made him turn it inside-out so it read

    LLUB
    TIHS

    No word on how many dyslexic students/teachers were offended…

  19. Not quite on topic, but I never liked pep rallies at school. Last year I was at a high school during homecomming and I saw a student with a t-shirt that read “I’d rather be learning.” I assume he was dragged off to the mandatory rally with the rest.

  20. Pay Pal. Server. Please.

  21. What a precocious tyke! I bet he’s a lot of fun to be around.

  22. A seventh grader? Maybe there’s hope for America’s kids after all…

  23. “Uh, yeah. Then, when everyone goes to private schools, we won’t have teachers and principals telling kids what they can wear.”

    If everyone went to private schools and the private schools were supported by tuition, fees and voluntary contributions, then dress codes in schools would not need to be a matter of public policy. So long as schools are run by the government, the government will be forced to take a stand on he dress-code issue, one way or the other.

  24. Ann Randian,

    Actually, this is where rm2muv will tell you that he would give the kid a high five and try to find out where to get one of those cool shirts. of course he would wear HIS to school only under another shirt so he could secretly share the laugh and keep his job.

    Of course, in our district (and every public school I know of), the school board (consisting of parents and patrons of the district) makes up these silly rules. Usually the ‘powerful’ teachers’ union regards rules like these to be just another distraction from our teaching time and prefer freedom of expression to be honored. However, our opinions are rarely asked for and even more rarely listened to.

    Sorry to be late, A.R. I’ve been down at my school (sixth unpaid day so far this year) trying to make my cell, er classroom, less prison-like before the little prisoners show up next Tuesday.

  25. If everyone went to private schools and the private schools were supported by tuition, fees and voluntary contributions, then dress codes in schools would not need to be a matter of public policy. So long as schools are run by the government, the government will be forced to take a stand on he dress-code issue, one way or the other.

    But this kid sued to get his rights back. If he were attending a private institution, wouldn’t his only recourse be to switch schools.

  26. I wonder what the price tag was for this little civics lesson. My suspicion is that the school district ended up picking up the tab for legal fees of both parties. What happens when they go to the voters with their little tin cup and ask for an increase in property taxes to cover these unanticipated but not unavoidable expenses?

  27. “Of course, in our district (and every public school I know of), the school board (consisting of parents and patrons of the district) makes up these silly rules. Usually the ‘powerful’ teachers’ union regards rules like these to be just another distraction from our teaching time and prefer freedom of expression to be honored. However, our opinions are rarely asked for and even more rarely listened to.”

    “I was only following orders,” isn’t an excuse, it’s an indictment.

    Not mine, David Gerald.

  28. Good Lord, you’re trotting out the Nazis for me, and I support the poor kid.

  29. If he were attending a private institution, wouldn’t his only recourse be to switch schools. – todd

    And that’s a problem, how?

    The kid’s parents backed him up by letting him sue. In a full school choice system, wouldn’t it make sense for them to choose a school that allowed that kind of expression? Why keep your child in a learning environment hostile to your beliefs? Under the current regime, the answer to that is usually “We can’t afford to pay tuition at the kind of school we’d like Junior to attend.” Sometimes it’s “I pay $umpty-thousand a year in property taxes, and I’ll be damned if I fork out any more for private school.” Either way, the near-monopoly provision of the service is the source of these problems.

    Kevin

  30. Censorship by a private school is different and considerably not as bad.

    For one thing, private institutions require compliance with arbitrary speech-regulating guidelines frequently. This is normal for them, and expected. A private school could argue that by restricting speech, it is taking a pragmatic approach to maintaining discipline and focus on the curriculum material. The government isn’t supposed to restrict speech even for pragmatic purposes, except for in situations where life and limb are threatened. It communicates some very illiberal ideas about government.

    I mean, teenage kids are always going to defy restrictions on provocative speech and behavior whether the rule comes from a public or private institution, but it does make it considerably worse when it’s coming from an institution at which attendance is compulsory and whose rules are backed by the force of law.

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