Friday, June 29, 2007

Your Dilligent Reporters in Action 

Apparently, the Associated Press doesn't understand what the legal terms in their stories mean. Here's the lead from an article about a recent Supreme Court action:
Putting its recent ruling on student speech into practice, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected a school district's appeal of a ruling that it violated a student's rights by censoring his anti-Bush T-shirt. [emphasis added]
Here's the ruling that the Supreme Court refused to overturn:
An appeals court said the school had no right to censor any part of the [student's anti-Bush] shirt.
Note that the shirt contained references to alcohol and drugs, as well as political sentiment. Yes, the Court was consistent with its earlier ruling in which Justice Alito cautioned that schools could not censor political speech. But they weren't exactly being consistent in their stance on where and what schools could censor.

The real story that the AP has missed is the inconsistency being set up as precedent. So "Bong Hits for Jesus" on a banner, off campus, is wrong. A T-shirt worn on campus with cocaine and a martini and a political message on it is okay.

If anything, the Court may have inadvertently undercut their own prior ruling. At the very least, it seems that free speech, at least when it comes to what is prohibited to students, has just fallen into the same category as obscenity: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."

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