No More Mister Nice Blog Caption of the photo that accompanies an article in today's Christian Science Monitor: POSTER BOY: Chris Bowler (left, with
June 6, 2005

No More Mister Nice Blog

Caption of the photo that accompanies an article in today's Christian Science Monitor:

POSTER BOY: Chris Bowler (left, with his parents) says Hudson (Mass.) High School took down posters for his conservative club and altered a yearbook photo so the group's Web address wouldn't show (right). The website links to footage of beheadings by Islamic extremists. The Rutherford Institute is suing the school.

You have to read all the way to paragraph 22 to learn exactly what's being repressed here (emphasis mine):

The posters, hung by senior Chris Bowler, were provocative. They touted the clubs' website, which links to footage of beheadings at the hands of Islamic extremists. The site says the images show "the true doctrines of Islam put into action."

OK, let's discuss this. We're talking about advertising for a Web site that says a particular religion is inherently evil. It's entirely possible that (peaceful, responsible) members of this religious group attend the school. Does the school have no right to limit such speech on its own walls, or in a school-sponsored yearbook?

I believe in a very right to free speech, especially when we're talking about political speech. But there are always limits on venue -- you can't hold a demonstration in my living room without my permission, speech in your office cubicle may be limited by your boss, and a municipality can say you have to demonstrate in this place and not that one, or that you can march down the sidewalk but not in the street.

As long as high school kids can put this stuff out somewhere, it seems to me a school can say it doesn't belong on the school walls. And if it's permitted on the school walls, then links to sites reproducing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ought to be allowed on the walls, too. For that matter, recruiting posters for the Klan or the Nazi Party or Stormfront ought to be permitted.

Maybe that would be fine. I can see an argument for a genuinely hardcore "democracy wall" in a high school -- one where anything goes. But I think it's reasonable to say that -- in the interests of maintaining an atmosphere in which all law-abiding students and parents feel welcome -- this stuff belongs elsewhere. Here's the site, by the way. Scroll down for the material in question: Read on...

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