School officials continue to expand their oversight over non-school activities and speech of their students. Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Richard Carter and Walla Walla High School Principal Darcy Weisner have cracked down on a naughty bumper stickers by students. They suspended a student for an objectionable stick on her car. It appears, according to Walla Walla’s Weisner, that the “Blue Devils” have to be a bit more angelic in their exercise of free speech.
The high school student had two bumper stickers on her car with profane words on them. One had a phrase similar to 1990s rap song, “Boom! I Got Your Boyfriend” by M.C. Luscious. The sticker replaced “got” with a more descriptive and perhaps more accurate term. While the Supreme Court ruled in Bethel School District v. Fraser that a school could suspend a student for delivering a speech filled with sexual innuendo during a school assembly, this was on a private car of a student.
The school district is adamant that it may crackdown on the student because the car was parked in a school parking lot. Deputy Superintendent Bill Jordan insists “The bumper stickers contained the ‘f’ word and this language is not acceptable in print or speech on school grounds. The decision to have the bumper stickers removed from campus was made to maintain a safe and civil school environment.” Whatever benefit censorship might have for school safety and civility, it clearly does little for the students’ understanding of free speech and associational rights.
National Coalition Against Censorship has taken up the case.
The expansion of school monitoring of such speech is an overlooked threat to first amendment rights. The Supreme Court sped along this dangerous trend in its wrongly decided opinion in Morse v. Frederick (the so-called Bong Hits for Jesus case), discussed here.
For a discussion of other such speech cases, click here.
For the full story, click here.
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