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Friday, April 21, 2006

Free Speech

At JSW and Volokh, they have a discussion of the latest nonsensical 9th circuit decision. The court ruled that a student at a highschool was not within his free speech rights to wear a t-shirt that pronounced disapproval of gay rights, calling homosexuality a sin. This is a very troubling decision to me. In the decision, the Judge mentions that the decision is important for protecting "our most vulnerable minorities" seemingly barring anyone from banning a t-shirt that upholds gay rights. I'd disect this opinion, but too much is wrong with it. So I'll just dismiss it as another looney 9th circuit opinion. If in the comments anyone wants to stick up for it, I can offer a criticique. This decision just seems too loopy to respond to.

EDIT: (I forgot to include the link, so here it is)


I think Professor Carpenter nailed it - this is a decision best left up to local schools. Public schools are not free speech zones, and schools do have the right to censure speech - they do it all the time. If this shirt was creating a disruption or affecting specific students so much, the school should have the right to limit its use. The "captive audience" argument is really compelling.
That's the problem with public schools. All right, a hypothetical. Suppose a school decided that any shirts that had any liberal ideas on them were banned, because the school was in a conservative district, and heckling resulted. Is this okay? (Imagine this question in Morrison's tone.)
links help:
Hahahaha, yeah, we have a problem!

Yeah, if it was seriously creating a disruption, then ban 'em. I would hope that the school would be a bit fairer and just ban all shirts with slogans on them, no matter what the slogans advertised, but if there was real evidence that someone's shirt idea was the cause of real harm/disruption of class/school, then it makes perfect sense for a school to limit that type of clothing.

However, the burden would then be on the school (in the case of a challenge) to prove that this harm/disruption was real.

The farther I get away from my sullen anti-authority-for-the-sake-of-being-anti-authority high school self, the more I think compulsory uniforms are a really good idea.
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