Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Leave It To STACLU

You’ve gotta love how STACLU can spin a case. Jay announces:

ACLU Loses Bong Hits For Jesus at SCOTUS

And pronounces it a “sound ruling.” There’s just one problem with this, Jay: virtually every religious right legal group filed briefs on behalf of the student in this case – the American Center for Law and Justice, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Liberty Legal Institute, the Rutherford Institute. But the loss is only for the ACLU, apparently. And no analysis whatsoever on the actual ruling itself. No substance, only spin. Yep, that’s STACLU for ya.


  1. #1 Royale
    June 25, 2007

    To ask a rhetorical question….

    If the STACLU opposes the ACLU on everything, simply because it is their mission, and the police searched the STACLU headquarters without a warrant, and the ACLU defended the STACLU at trial…

    would the STACLU be happy if the ACLU lost?

  2. #2 Karl
    June 25, 2007

    I caught a brief part of NPR’s report on this. One of the statements from the majority side said that First Amendment would cover a political statement or a religious statement but not one that advocates breaking the law – using an ilegal substance.

  3. #3 Robert
    June 25, 2007

    You know I’ve looked and looked, and checked and checked and maybe someone can help me out here, but I can’t seem to find in the first amendment where it says that freedom of expression only covers political or religious expression.

  4. #4 Russell
    June 25, 2007

    There’s a dangerously large amount of overlap between statements that can be interpreted as criticism of a law and advocacy for change of it, and those that can be interpreted as advocacy of breaking said law. The notion that latter kind of statement can be regulated by schools without impinging on political debate is worse than naive.

  5. #5 gwangung
    June 25, 2007

    I caught a brief part of NPR’s report on this. One of the statements from the majority side said that First Amendment would cover a political statement or a religious statement but not one that advocates breaking the law – using an ilegal substance.

    Yeah, really stupid sophistry.

    You expect better out of the Supreme Court (thought perhaps not these judges)….

  6. #6 AEB
    June 25, 2007


    I’ve looked and looked and can’t find where is says you can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theater either. Dude you sound like a creationist whining about “church and state” not being in the First Amendment.


    Agreed, however the opinion goes out of its way to state that had Frederick been able to provide any coherent political or religious explanation as an alternative to an explanation of advocating illegal activity, he would have been fine. The best he could do was that it was gibberish or that he just wanted to attract attention to get on TV. The opinion suggests that the court will go out of its way to protect high value speech and will accept virtually any coherent explanation of the speech in dispute. I get that if you think virtually all speech is beyond regulation at all places and at all times, you won’t agree with this, however if you agree that limited restrictions in high school setting are reasonable, this opinion is both appropriately narrow and reasonable.

  7. #7 Robert
    June 25, 2007

    AEB, if you can’t see the difference in shouting fire in a crowded theater and only protecting religious or political speech then I have no interest in conversing with you.

    Also your comparison to the seperation of church and state doesn’t hold the least bit of water. Its not as if I’m looking for a specific phrase when the general sentiment is being expressed right in front of me.

    And I know its childish and probably weakens my point, but it makes me feel so much better so here it is:

    Fuck you.

  8. #8 Chet Lemon
    June 25, 2007


    I’m wondering if you missed the other post on STACLU that seems to line up more with your position:


  9. #9 AEB
    June 25, 2007

    Well Robert my point was that constitutional law in the real world involves a bit more than the literal words in the document. Obviously there is a difference between shouting “Fire” and political and religious expression, yet you will not find this distinction in the words of the 1st amendment. The fact that you recognize that there is a difference proves my point, not yours. The church/state comment was not meant as a direct comparison; it was referring to the tone of your comment. Like the creationists, it was simplistic, arrogant, and blatantly ignored past Supreme Court doctrine. I suspect that most regular readers of this blog noted this similarity and understood my reference.

    As to your parting comment, I hope you do feel better and I support your 1st amendment right to spew profanity in a forum such as this and anywhere else for that matter. May I suggest that you chill out a bit.

  10. #10 Brandon
    June 25, 2007

    I support your 1st amendment right to spew profanity in a forum such as this and anywhere else for that matter.

    So a banner in a high school that said, “Fuck Jesus!” would be just fine? I’m just kidding, it’s all good.

    The one thing I love about STACLU is that they make no attempt to hide their insanity. Heck, they all but came out and admitted it when they called Islam, “the religion that wants to kill us all.” I’d be very surprised if they have any fans who aren’t missing any teeth.

  11. #11 Robert
    June 25, 2007

    The distinction between shouting fire and other speech is that shouting fire in a crowded theater isn’t an expression of opinion, it’s an incitement to chaos in an enviroment where such chaos can cost lives.

    In contrast free expression isn’t limited by the content of that expression. There are not categories of expression that are acceptable and those that aren’t. Outside this case can you point to a legal example where the type of expression or category of expression was an issue? Restrictions of the first expression in the past have had to have been “content neutral.” That is why I think that appling labels to types of speech is heinous and contrary to what the first amendment stands for. After all who gets to decide what kind of speech is acceptable? I think these are questions better avoided, even if it means we have to tolerate speech that some of us find ugly.

    Unless you have some kind of evidence that this isn’t the case, then all you have is a bald assertation that I am wrong. If anyone’s tone is comparable to the typical creationist (evidence free, but full of complaining) it would be yours. If you find this offensive perhaps in the future you would do well to avoid criticism based upon a rather nebulous trait in the internet.

  12. #12 Robert
    June 25, 2007

    Also I find it interesting that you support my right to tell you “Fuck you” when that statement is neither political nor religious.

  13. #13 kehrsam
    June 25, 2007

    Chet Lemon: As I have been one of those who have been particularly derisive of many of Glib Fortuna’s posts over at STACLU, let me commend the article you link to everyone here. It is a well-researched, well-written and thoughtfully reasoned post. As the Congressman I once worked for used to say before important votes, “It has the additional benefit of being the right thing to do.”

    Good work, Glib.

  14. #14 Robert
    June 25, 2007

    And finally one more thing, as I guess I found writing all that cathartic, so I will admit that all of my comments have been over the top, and apologise. I will endeavor to chill out (you hit a nerve with the creationist whining).

  15. #15 DuWayne
    June 25, 2007

    AEB –

    Have you even read about this case? It wasn’t in a high school setting, it was at a parade off school grounds that was not an official school activity. And it really shouldn’t matter whether the intent was religious or political. We have the freedom to express ourselves as we see fit, excepting some very narrow parameters.

    If he had been in school or at a school sponsored event, it would be a different story. He was not. Outside of a school activity, he should have the right to advocate any view he sees fit, whether his intent is to foster political change, or just to be an asshole. And, by the way, I don’t see how holding a sign that says “bong hits for Jesus” is particularly advocating pot smoking. It is juvenile and silly, but not really telling people to go out and do it. In no way, however, was the school right to punish him for it.

    I find it chilling that you think the only speech that should be protected is that which is religious or political. Why, if such a limitation on free speech exists, is it unreasonable to find if such a limitation is innumerated?

    I suspect that most regular readers of this blog noted this similarity and understood my reference.

    Funny, I just thought you were being an asshole.

  16. #16 AEB
    June 25, 2007


    Have YOU read this case? Every single court on the way up and the Supreme Court all found that this WAS a school setting. Now whether either of us agree with that finding, that is landscape of the decision, and criticizing me for it now if ridiculous.

    I’m not sure where exactly you or Robert got the idea that I think that political or religious speech are the only types worth protecting. I absolutely reject that notion. But that IS NOT what we were discussing. We were discussing a very specific question: what speech can be restricted in a high school setting. Now if you reject that this is a high school setting, then this would be a horrible decision and I would agree with you. But, in this narrow setting (high school), I think it is perfectly reasonable to restrict speech that advocates or glorifies an illegal activity. The court went out of its way to explain both that this is a narrow decision, and some somewhat similar situations and speech that would not be covered by this decision. Hell, it reads to me like the court was all but begging for Frederick to give them an explanation for this thing other than just “yeah drug use” so that they could find in his favor. The whole political/religious point is that we do consider some speech more important than others (like it or not) and that in a special setting like a school, we will go out of our way to protect that really important speech while we will allow restriction of other less important speech.

    Robert, you still missed my point that the distinction you are making between speech types is not one that can be found in a literal reading of the document. It takes interpretation, and I absolutely agree with the distinction you are drawing, that just wasn’t what the point was under discussion.

    And Robert, if you thought I was just trying to be an asshole as DuWayne did, then sorry for that. It was an attempt at a sarcastic reply to what seemed like a sarcastic or ignorant post.

  17. #17 Russell Miller
    June 26, 2007

    Ed, did someone hack your account?

  18. #18 BobApril
    June 26, 2007

    Sadly, Russell, using a fake name would be a trivial exercise. Hopefully Ed has an IP log or something that he can use to bring out the ban-hammer. Or even track him down and sue for slander.

  19. #19 Legalist
    June 26, 2007

    When you think about it, five people on the Supreme Court decide how you live.
    Pass a law? Doesn’t mean anything if five people on the SCOTUS decide it is unconstitutional.
    Death Penalty? Aborton on demand? Five people decide.
    The court giveth, the court taketh away. Blessed be the name of the court.

  20. #20 MartinM
    June 26, 2007

    Hmph. Apparently I am very much mistaken. That’s a remarkably stupid system.

    Oh, well.

  21. #21 MartinM
    June 26, 2007

    OK, so the blue background is triggered simply by the use of the correct name. Moronic.

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