18 year old student Joseph Frederick was suspended for 10 days under a school policy prohibiting the promotion of drug use after he unfurled a banner near his school that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." But Iíve got a hunch here that Frederick was really suspended because he embarrased the school administrators with his cheeky, clearly ironic banner. You see, the Olympic torch was passing by at the time. "Dear God," thinks the principal, "Iím going to be a butt of all the jokes at the NEA Convention in Provo this year." But Americans -- especially Americans in positions of authority -- do not have the right to use their authority to prevent a feeling of embarrassment. Indeed, properly exercised authority is willing to endure embarrassment to accomplish the goals of public safety, greater health or higher education. Cases like this are exactly why the First Amendment is a good idea. It is a protection of people against arbitrary, self-serving power.
In the court case of Morse et al. v. Frederick, dealing with the free speech rights of this and, by extension, all American high school students, the Supreme Court ruled against the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Chief Justice John Roberts declared, "the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings."
However, when it came to the idea of the free speech of corporations, Chief Justice Roberts had another standard, writing in another judgment released the same day, "Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor."
Free speech for corporations but not for students? What rubbish! What hogwash! What nonsense! It's time for America's students to let those exercising arbitrary and unconstitutional authority over them know that enough is enough. Go ahead and take the following t-shirts and posters to school, letting your administrators know where you stand. The t-shirts you'll see below are careful not to endorse student drug use, and they're either provocatively silly (Gong Hits 4 Jesus, for example) or principled in their political questions (why do the Supreme Court Justices get to utter "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" on a high-profile national stage over and over again while ordinary students can't do so on a single street corner?). Use these shirts to provoke, yes, but also to start a serious conversation.
We offer the shirts you see here through our online shop of generally progressive, always sweatshop-free t-shirts at Skreened. We hope that you'll go and grab a couple, and incite a little subversion amongst your friends and family.
For more progressive, liberal and Democratic Party resources, visit the links below:
Commentary at Irregular Times
Timely information at Irregular News
Local Resources at Irregular States
Congressional Cosponsorship Scores at That's My Congress
Ongoing discussion with alternative voices in the Irregular Times Diaries
We also offer a variety of progressive messages for you to display:
Anti-War bumper stickers
President 2008 bumper stickers
Organic No-Sweat Shirts
Irregular Times require talking back.
Give us your Irregular Retorts!
We are also eagerly awaiting original submissions of quality irregularity.