Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Another School Censorship Case

Agape Press has an article about yet another clear case of school censorship. The ADF is handling the case (see the complaint here) and this time I agree with them completely. A student in Frederick County, Virginia was told by the school that he could not hand out anti-abortion leaflets to his classmates during non-class time or wear clothing with an anti-abortion message. They’re asking for a preliminary injunction and will almost certainly get it, as they should. This is the exact same thing that goes on with the Day of Silence every year to protest anti-gay bigotry; we certainly can’t argue for schools allowing that event to take place while censoring the same actions by other students on other issues.

Comments

  1. #1 dogmeatIB
    December 27, 2006

    Ed,

    One problem could be the content of the pamphlets. Some of them incorporate absolutely horrendous photos of aborted fetuses, as could the student’s shirt. I don’t know if this is the case or not, but it would provide a valid dress code and “non-disruption” of the educational environment argument.

  2. #2 dogmeatIB
    December 27, 2006

    I read through the complaint, I don’t see anything within the complaint that would fit within the dress code or disruption hypothesis I proposed. Looks like the principal and the school district are wrong.

  3. #3 Keanus
    December 27, 2006

    Based on what Ed’s written, the student seems entirely within his rights. However, if he pursues people, demanding they accept his literature, that could be construed as harassment or stalking, depending on the circumstances and local law.

    I encounter that regularly at a Planned Parenthood clinic where I volunteer as an escort. The protesters are entitled to walk in the sidewalk, hold signs, address patients entering and leaving the clinic, and offer literature. But they are not entitled to push themselves on a patient if the patient refuses the literature or ignores the protesters’ pleadings. We have a number of cases each year where protesters pursue a client from the clinic and try to steer them to a nearby Catholic church for “counseling”, sometimes getting quite physical. No one has yet been arrested, but the police have lectured the protesters more than once about when protesting morphs into harassment and stalking. They may protest all the want on the sidewalk but they have no right to pursue another person down the street. The protesters, of course, deny harassment, but we’ve taken to keeping a video camera handy to make them stop, and it works.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    December 27, 2006

    There is nothing in this case to indicate that the problem was one of harassment. The school official’s letter says nothing about it, nor does the school policy stated in it.

  5. #5 Jeff Knapp
    December 27, 2006

    Well, I hope there is another student who will wear a pro-choice t-shirt and hand out pamphlets advocating a woman’s right to determine her own reproductivity. Seems fair. Censorship is just wrong no matter how much you dislike the message.

  6. #6 Ahcuah
    December 27, 2006

    In other legal news, here is a new court ruling that you might like to comment on here.

    However one feels on the gay marriage issue, it looks to me like a proper non-”activist” decision that puts the blame squarely where it lies.

  7. #7 kehrsam
    December 27, 2006

    Ahcuah: Thanks for the link. Brief summary:

    Plaintiffs filed suit against the MA legislature seeking 1) A Mandamus Order against the lege, ordering them to vote on the anti-gay-marriage Constitutional Amendment; or 2) Ordering the Amendment be put to a general election if the lege refused to act.

    Holdings: 1) No Mandamus is ever available against the legislature; and 2) No other relief is available. If the lege fails to do their job, the only remedy is to vote the scoundrels out of office.

    All around fascinating, both in terms of the politics as well as theoretical ideas about government and democracy.

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    December 27, 2006

    Ahcuah wrote:

    However one feels on the gay marriage issue, it looks to me like a proper non-”activist” decision that puts the blame squarely where it lies.

    Actually, I think it was wrongly decided and I plan to post on it tomorrow morning.

  9. #9 Ahcuah
    December 27, 2006

    kehrsam wrote:

    2) No other relief is available. If the lege fails to do their job, the only remedy is to vote the scoundrels out of office.

    There is actually a 3), which the court chose: admonish the lege to uphold their oaths of office. This is a pet peeve of mine, that so many legislators, despite claims of religiousity, regularly violate what they consider to be sacred oaths.

    Ed wrote:

    Actually, I think it was wrongly decided and I plan to post on it tomorrow morning.

    Looking forward to it. I’ll withhold further comments until then.

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