« Whitman: Another lying Republican | Main | Another call for Cheney impeachment »

Who's Been Doing Bong Hits for Jesus?

Clearly stoned...
So, if you haven't heard by now, the majority-Republican-appointee Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled that a high school student had no right to display a banner that read, "Bong Hits for Jesus" at his high school. Conservatives are hailing the decision as a victory in the War on Drugs and a victory for the conservative agenda in general. However, in their haste to score a victory against the threat to society posed by a lone teenager in full jackass mode, conservatives have basically declared illegal any opposition or dissent regarding anything that is currently illegal. This is a direct attack on American citizens' abilities to discuss, protest, or otherwise air grievances against significant segments of government policy. In short, this is utterly un-American.


Allow me to explain: Conservatives, in their zeal to declare a victory in a single case, have literally rewritten the law to enable the victory. Merits and demerits of the student's banner that read, "Bong Hits for Jesus" aside, the problem here is that the rewritten laws will extend far beyond this specific case. By extension, the Supreme Court has basically declared that any expression of opposition to any action that is currently illegal is, itself, illegal. In other words, if you don't like the way current laws read, you had better not protest. This is nothing less than totalitarianism.

The Supreme Court has established a precedent. The problem is, the "Bong Hits for Jesus" decision did not exist in a vacuum. Imagine if this Supreme Court had ruled on a "Beer for Jesus" case during Prohibition. It would have been illegal to voice an opinion that the Prohibition laws only gave rise to organized crime and that Prohibition, for all its self-righteousness, was a failure. In modern times, it would be illegal to advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana. It would be illegal to advocate for euthanasia for terminally ill people in states that do not allow euthanasia.

Indeed, the conservatives have a track record of altering the rules to accommodate specific outcomes of specific situations, without a thought as to the implications beyond said situation. For example, conservatives love the concept of suspending habeas corpus rights for individuals accused of being involved in terrorism. On the one hand, this sets the stage for the perception that great strides are being made in the fight against terrorism in that anyone who is even suspected of terrorist activity can be arrested and shipped off to any one of the Central Intelligence Agency's torture centers and those accused individuals can simply be treated as they were guilty all along. Accusation equals guilt in the conservative world. This is 180 degrees from 230 years of American jurisprudence. In pre-Bush America, one was innocent until proven guilty. Under the Bush regime, one is assumed to be guilty by accusation alone, no proof necessary; no trial necessary. Hey, its quick, decisive "justice."

This is exactly the same line of thought that led to the smashing success that was/is the invasion/occupation of Iraq. Bush simply assumed that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction and that he posed an imminent threat to the United States, and that was good enough for him to launch an invasion. An assumed threat equals an imminent threat in the conservative world. Since actual evidence never enters the picture (especially if it doesn't exist) it is very easy to arrive at the desired conclusion. Thus, Bush has rewritten the rules as to what constitutes a legitimate reason to invade and occupy a sovereign state. We don't really need a reason at all anymore. Of course, this new doctrine has cost America its credibility, and that's not something that can be restored overnight.

The (not so) funny thing is, the argument that the promotion of illegal activity could just as easily bite conservatives in the ass as anyone else. For example, if a state or community has a law that says it is illegal to harass or obstruct employees or patients of abortion clinics, then according to this ruling, the promotion of such activities would be illegal. This would be like a midget basketball team taking on the San Antonio Spurs in a game where the midgets insisted that the hoops be set five feet off the ground so that they might have a chance to dunk the ball, not realizing that to reset the rim at five feet would allow a tremendous advantage to the Spurs. Suppose that I think the national speed limit should be raised to 90 miles per hour on Interstates in rural areas. Given the Supreme Court's decision regarding "Bong Hits for Jesus," I have no right to endorse higher speeds, since they are currently illegal.

Perhaps the Supreme Court would rule that I have no right to criticize this ruling because to do so would be a tacit endorsement of an activity that they found to be illegal.

Hmmm... A black van just pulled into my driveway. There's a knock at the door. Gotta go now...


Again, the conservative ideal of strict constructionist review of the US Constitution goes out the window when the result doesn't fit with the ideology. Classic.

The ruling in the Bong hits case is more narrow than what you describe here... they simply ruled that the students' free speech was not protected from disciplinary action from the school (due to its alleged promotion of illegal activity). The speech itself is not illegal, nor would one be arrested for it. Just suspended--if your school's educational mission does not condone drug advocacy (luckily mine did).

Overall though I agree with your general argument about where the conservatives are heading with this. Bastards.


Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that the ruling itself was narrow, as you describe. However, a precedent has been set. If the courts can declare that an idividual's speech can be restricted in one environment, what's to stop the courts from ruling that such restrictions are valid in other environments?

Basically, the SCOTUS has said that the advocacy of any activity that is currently illegal, is itself illegal. This is especially troublesome for schools and universities. How the hell are we supposed to have any reasonable dialogue regarding the merits of our justice system if part of the discussion itself is off limits? Of course, that's the point - eliminate the discourse, and you eliminate dissent.

If a school is allowed to discipline a student for his/her views, why not an employer, or any other institution?

The whole point of freedom of speech is that one can advocate a position that is unpopular.

Justice Stevens weighs in on the matter:

Stevens: Smoking pot akin to drinking during prohibition Nick Juliano
Published: Wednesday June 27, 2007

Print This Email This

In his dissent on a recent free-speech case, Justice John Paul Stevens wades into the war-on-drugs debate, comparing modern-day pot smokers with "otherwise law-abiding patrons of bootleggers and speakeasies," during the prohibition era.

Stevens, who the Washington Post notes turned 87 on April 20, said the current climate surrounding the war on drugs "is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student."

The Supreme Court this week ruled against an Alaska student who displayed a "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" sign at an event outside his high school, and Stevens wrote the dissent for the four justices who believed the student's free-speech rights should be protected.

"Today the actions of literally millions of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana, and of the majority of voters in each of the several States that tolerate medicinal uses of the product, lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by those in the majority in silencing opponents of the war on drugs," Stevens wrote.

Most debate over the efficacy of the war on drugs focuses on government crackdowns on users of medical marijuana, for whom the drug eases chronic pain. But in comparing pot smoking to social drinking, Stevens suggests that the drug could be legalized in all cases.

In his opinion, Stevens insists "no one seriously maintains that drug advocacy ... can be prohibited because of its feared consequences." Later, Stevens observes the shift in Americans' views on alcohol since the 1920s and 30s.

"While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs," Stevens writes.

In a 2005 case, Stevens wrote for the court's 6-3 majority that upheld the federal government's right to prosecute medical marijuana patients in states that have legalized medical use of the drug.

But his opinion was based strictly on Congress's ability to regulate interstate commerce, and that opinion included mention that credible research showing marijuana could be medically effective would "cast serious doubt" on the government's classification of the drug as a Schedule I narcotic. And he all but encouraged the advocates to take their argument directly to Congress.

The movements, actions and miraculous labors of Jesus could well have been the dramatist's efforts to portray histrionically the occult experiences of the soul in its evolution. Such features as the birth, the awakening of intellectual power at age twelve, the temptation or stress of conflict between the body and the soul, the development of the soul's divine potency to heal the ills and weaknesses of the flesh, the overcoming and casting out of the demonic forces of the natural man by the Christly influence, the symbolic raising of the "dead" inert spiritual power to a new birth of life, the anguish at the height of the clash between the two poles of life--the whole experience of the soul under the long domination of the animal instinct being itself the essence of crucifixion on the cross of matter--then the final victory in the soul's radiant transfiguration of the moral man by the spirit's light, and the ultimate resurrection of the soul out of its "death" under the suffocating heaviness of the life of sense--what are all these but a dramatic rendition of the phases of the soul's life under the duress of its incarceration in mortal body?


Post a comment

Get GLONO merch!