Today’s Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School Dist. (9th Cir. Feb. 27, 2014) upholds a California high school’s decision to forbid students from wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. (See here and here for more on this case.)
The court points out that the rights of students in public high schools are limited — under the Supreme Court’s decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist. (1969), student speech could be restricted if “school authorities [can reasonably] forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities” stemming from the speech. And on the facts of this case, the court concludes, there was reason to think that the wearing of the T-shirts would lead to disruption.
Professor Volokh goes on to describe the threats from Hispanics who wanted to “F’ up” students who dared to wear shirts bearing an image of the American flag.
That’s right, certain students threatened violence against other students whose shirts they didn’t like, how did the school administrators decide to solve the problem? Not by disciplining the students who threatened violence. Instead, by violating the First Amendment rights of the victims of the threats.Prof. Volokh makes a very important point:
Somehow, we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it — and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech). Something is badly wrong, whether such an incident happens on May 5 or any other day.
And this is especially so because behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. The school taught its students a simple lesson: If you dislike speech and want it suppressed, then you can get what you want by threatening violence against the speakers. The school will cave in, the speakers will be shut up, and you and your ideology will win. When thuggery pays, the result is more thuggery. Is that the education we want our students to be getting?
Well, Professor, apparently the concern for these school officials isn’t avoiding thuggery. Rather, it is making sure that no one accuses them of being mean to Hispanic students. They have good reason to be afraid. Just last month, the Obama regime announced that they are watching:
Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have issued the first-ever national guidelines for discipline in public schools, contending that present discipline disproportionately affects minorities.
So punish the kids who wore the t-shirts. We don’t want to be RAAACIST.