Opinion

Bong hits 4 Ken Starr

Seriously, that dude needs to chill out, and a joint just ain’t going to cut it. Maybe if he’d lighten up, he would quit using the justice system as a perverse political tool. For those of you who, for some reason or another, didn’t feel the need to read any news concerning our Lord and Savior and the sticky icky, here’s the deal: Joey Frederick was a high school senior when the 2002 Olympic torch passed through his Alaskan town on its way to Salt Lake City. School got out early for this event, and Frederick used this opportunity to display a giant sign on the public sidewalk across from his school which read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” The principal suspended him for ten days. He sued on free speech grounds.

And now, just a couple of weeks ago, famed Clinton antagonist Kenneth Starr battled the American Civil Liberties Union-guess who represented whom-in front of a presumably cranky Supreme Court.

Frederick claims that the sign was not a pro-drug message, but merely something to piss off his school’s administration. Mission accomplished. But even if it was a pro-drug message, the court simply must rule in his favor. I see no problem in advocating a change in our absurd drugs laws. Justice Kennedy asked at the hearing whether political speech advocating rape would be okay with Mr. Frederick and the ACLU. Well, rape is one of the most evil and humiliating things one person can do to another. Pot makes you hungry and really appreciate Pink Floyd.

The real question in this case, though, is not about whether pot should be legal. It is about how brutally public school boards can stifle speech they simply don’t like. I had a problem like this in my high school days. Back in the winter of my senior year, our Fearless Leader was gearing the country up for a hideous mistake of a war. My way to protest the direction my country was heading was to silently remain seated during the pledge of allegiance. This did not sit well, and I was warned by my teachers not to continue, and even threatened by my principal.

When I brought in the court decision showing that he was a war-mongering jackass and enemy of the First Amendment, he laughed and told me to get a lawyer. It’s times like those that make having lawyer uncles awfully nice. I enjoyed Principal Salvo’s apology, and I am sure that Mr. Frederick will enjoy it when his principal, Deborah Morse, is forced to apologize to him.

Sure, campaigning for “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” may not be as politically pure as protesting an unjust war and a government which doesn’t think much of the American public’s intelligence, but free speech is free speech. And I won’t have a legal precedent named after me, or the respect of those who love liberty. So, Joey, you got that going for you. Which is nice.

Patrick Gibbons is a senior majoring in political science. He may be contacted at p.gibbons@umiami.edu.

March 30, 2007

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.