Someone actually upholds free speech for students

The federal courts, in particular the Supreme Court, has a history of making incorrect decisions regarding free speech. In 2007 it ruled that student Joseph Frederick could not hold up a sign that read “Bong hits 4 Jesus” because it occurred during a school sponsored event. In reality, Frederick never entered school that day, so he was effectively an independent citizen on a public sidewalk. Why the Supreme Court never considered this fact remains a mystery.

However, sometimes the courts make the correct decisions. That is the case with Katherine Evans.

Ms. Evans’s suspension first came to the attention of the civil liberties union in 2007. Then a high school senior and an honor student, Ms. Evans repeatedly clashed with Ms. Phelps, her English teacher, over assignments, Ms. Evans has said.

She turned to Facebook to vent her frustration. At home on her computer, Ms. Evans created a Facebook page titled “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever had” and invited past and current students of Ms. Phelps to post their own comments.

A federal court just ruled that Evans does have the right to continue with her suit. This is the obviously correct decision. The ability of school administrators to limit the free speech rights of students ends with school grounds or school sponsored events. They cannot reach beyond the classroom and into the lives of students. In any case where they do (such as this one), they have violated the rights enshrined in the constitution.

“This is an important victory both for Ms. Evans and Internet free speech,” Ms. Kayanan said, “because it upholds the principle that the right to freedom of speech and expression in America does not depend on the technology used to convey opinions and ideas.”

This becomes all the more obvious once one transplants the situation into something parallel. Say Evans was criticizing the administration or teachers or school in general – except instead of making a Facebook page, she wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper. In that instance, a suspension would have been met with outrage. (Perhaps because old people would understand what was happening.) This situation is no different. The principal acted inappropriately and should have been able to see that in the first place.

We’re Christian…we should be allowed to be disruptive!

Pissant little parents in North Carolina, great abusers of the minds of children, have decided having their kids harass the science teacher is an okay thing to do.

A middle-school teacher in Wake County may be fired after she and her friends made caustic remarks on a Facebook page about her students, the South and Christianity.

Melissa Hussain, an eighth-grade science teacher at West Lake Middle School in Apex, was suspended with pay Friday while investigators review her case, according to Greg Thomas, a Wake schools spokesman. The suspension came after some of Hussain’s students and their parents objected to comments on her Facebook page, many of them revolving around her interaction with her Christian students.

Basically the kids were putting pictures of Jesus on her desk, reading their Bibles during class, and randomly breaking out into Jesus-song. They were asking irrelevant questions about God while learning about simple biology (because their parents evidently don’t want them to be prepared for Bio 101 in college). And, of course, the parents believe it is all okay because disruption is acceptable when it’s done under the guise of religion.

“She doesn’t have to be a professing Christian to be in the classroom,” [parent Annette Balint said. “But she can’t go the other way and not allow God to be mentioned.”

This tune would change pretty quickly if these were Muslim children trying to disrupt class.

This is clearly all just a blatant attempt to taunt the teacher. She has a right to post whatever she pleases on her Facebook page. In fact, what she posted was entirely reasonable.

Hussain wrote on the social-networking site that it was a “hate crime” that students anonymously left a Bible on her desk, and she told how she “was able to shame” her students over the incident. Her Facebook page included comments from friends about “ignorant Southern rednecks,” and one commenter suggested Hussain retaliate by bringing a Dale Earnhardt Jr. poster to class with a swastika drawn on the NASCAR driver’s forehead.

Take note. Hussain said it was a hate crime and that she was able to shame her students. I think she’s going a little over the top with the term “hate crime” – it’s blatant harassment and completely inappropriate and irresponsible of the parents, but not a crime – but it’s good that she was able to shame the students. They were acting out and misbehaving. How many times has a student not been made an example for doing that?

Also take note that the most ‘egregious’ comments came from her friends. Ignoring for a moment that the comments are entirely accurate, Hussain can hardly be blamed for the thoughts of her friends. And let’s take a moment and look at one of these thoughts: it was suggested she bring a Dale Earnhardt Jr. poster to class and draw a swastika on it. That puts things in perfect perspective: it would be inappropriate harassment if she actually did that. In fact, it would probably be a fireable action. But her students are doing the same thing. They’re needlessly taunting and harassing their teacher (at the request of their ignorant, science-hating, creationist, redneck parents). Since they’re only students and can’t be fired, they should at least be given detentions and, if the behavior continues, suspensions.

We’re Christian…we should be allowed to hate!

A group of crazy ol’ Christians isn’t too fond of some hate laws protecting people who are victims of crime based upon sexual orientation.

Far from the intended purpose of severely punishing criminals who commit unspeakable acts against a persecuted minority group, the religious activists claim the laws are a guarded effort to “eradicate” their beliefs.

If only.

Claiming “there is no need” to extend hate crimes definitions, Thomas More chief counsel Richard Thompson attempted to minimize the impact of violent crimes against homosexuals.

“Of the 1.38 million violent crimes reported in the U.S. by the FBI in 2008, only 243 were considered as motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation,” he wrote on the group’s Web site. “The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”

Right. So long as it’s rare, it’s okay!

Of course, this is what the law actually says.

3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

(4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

This remind me of the deceitful tactics of the bigots of Maine during the recent vote on same-sex marriage. Over and over again we were told kids would be taught all about that icky gay marriage in schools. In reality, there was nothing in the bill about education and besides that, no one is taught anything about marriage as it stands. (What is there to be taught in schools? Two people get together, go to City Hall, get hitched. End of lesson.)

This sort of general immorality is quite common among these radical (but really mainstream) Christian groups. Hell, there are a significant number of people, primarily immoral Christians (sorry for the redundancy), who want the ‘right’ to be able to fire gays in the workplace. Such bigotry might fly in a place like Uganda, but it should have no place in a secular nation like the U.S.