Student Speech

Posted on April 28, 2021 by Joseph

If you think it was stupid to punish “Bong-hits for Jesus” banner at school-sponsored out-of-school event, then today’s SCOTUS case should concern you.

Most liberals–myself included– side with the student who was disciplined for saying “fuck cheer” after not making varsity team. But this wouldn’t be obvious to someone listening to the tough questioning during today’s oral argument. Why are justices all over the map? Progressives want to protect right to punish students’ otherwise-protected insensitive/racist/bigoted speech off-campus. Siding with the student threatens that. Conservatives are worried about opening the door to Liberal school districts punishing Religious/Conservative off-campus speech under banner of preventing disruption. Ruling against the student threatens their march to expand “Free exercise” purview. It’s an interesting example of conflicting viewpoints within each side. On the one hand, it’s Conservatives’ authoritarian instincts bumping up against their desire to express religion and minority-held views. On the other, it’s Liberals’ free-expression instinct bumping against their Progressive allies’ desire to police language.

ACLU and student have it right: Allowing schools to punish potentially disruptive, but otherwise protected, out-of-school speech would take wrecking ball to First Amendment rights of 50 Million+ young Americans. It should not happen.