Friday, September 01, 2006

Oh, Look! A Court Decision FOR Dissent!

Bush-mocking shirt OK to wear

By Christine Kearney
Wed Aug 30, 9:42 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. student who sued school officials after he was made to censor his T-shirt that labelled President George W. Bush "Chicken-Hawk-In-Chief" and a former alcohol and cocaine abuser won an appeal on Wednesday to wear the T-shirt to school.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of Zachery Guiles, who through his parents claimed his free speech rights had been violated when school officials made him put duct tape over parts of his T-shirt that showed a Bush image surrounded by cocaine, a razor blade, a straw and a martini.

Guiles, who as a seventh grader in 2004 wore the T-shirt to Williamstown Middle High School in Vermont once a week for two months after purchasing it at an anti-war rally, appealed the case after a lower court ruled in favour of the school.

The school argued the images were offensive because they undermined the school's anti-drug message.
I'm guessing the vice-principal doesn't spend much time in the boy's room...

But good on Zach and good on his parents for supporting him in this fight! It takes a lot of courage to stand against not only the school establishment, but good taste, decency AND a rabid, violent and vicious right wing (you reading this, Coultergeisters who keep picking on left-wingers?) determined to allow any dissent in this country, so long as said dissent is limited to chocolate v. vanilla ice cream, and possibly Jessica Simpson's marriage woes.

Fascism reared its ugly head and the brief moment it had wresting the national dialogue seems to be ebbing. Amen for that. Let's look at what the court had to say:
The appeals court said while the T-shirt "uses harsh rhetoric and imagery to express disagreement with the president's policies and to impugn his character," the images depicted "are not plainly offensive as a matter of law."

"We conclude that defendants' censorship of the images on Guiles's T-shirt violated his free speech rights," the ruling said, noting the T-shirt was censored after only one parent with opposing political views complained.
By the way, the appellate court upheld the lower court ruling in this matter, so that's two strikes against fascism here.

We ought to be encouraging our youth to speak up, since so many of their parents are so righteously and zealously being cowed into silence on matters that are vital to the national interest.

When Spiro Agnew spoke of a Silent Majority, he meant there were people who didn't care enough to be activist against the rather sizable protest movement in the country during the Vietnam War (and ultimately, said "Silent Majority" ended up siding with the protestors, we should note. It sounds more like they were just confused, not immobile).

Now, the silence of the majority is about the embarassment at the policies and activities of the right wing, and concomitantly, fear that to speak up is to risk a long, drawn-out battle defending one's life for all it's flaws and foibles against people who's own lives couldn't stand inspection past the last meal of Cheetos and Sprite.

But the world is turning, and so soon will the national dialogue.