Yesterday, two days before the international Day of Silence against homophobia, an Illinois judge ruled that a student can continue wearing a t-shirt reading “Be Happy, Not Gay.” Two other courts had ruled against the student, but Judge Richard Posner said the school cannot lean against someone for voicing their opinion, however distasteful. [Naperville Sun]
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Somehow I doubt he’d have allowed a banner saying “Be accepting, NOT muslim” or “Be clean, NOT black”…Regardless of the ridiculous they both sound…
I meant regardless of HOW ridicoulous they both sound…Jeez,I need another cup of tea.
Sadly, we have this pesky Constitution thing that permits even drooling idiots to express their nonsensical opinions on their shirts.
That’s truly terrible. That Judge is pretty much justifying the climate that killed Matthew Sheppard and Lawrence King and hundreds more who can’t bear all the absurd hate for something as simple as same-sex attraction and turn to suicide.
EMB: But not in environments where the speech could lead to harassment. This is not the government interfering with one’s right to expression — it is an institution placing limits on what sort of messages are acceptable within the school day (as they do with every other aspect of their dress code).
Schools have every right to prevent condemnatory messages. And as already suggested, it would be a very different story if it were another group being targeted!
Exactly. Schools have dress codes and ban various types of clothing and inflammatory expressions on t-shirts all the time, why should this case be different?
All school dress codes have something about defaming and discriminatory language. It inspires and incites hate and a negative atmosphere for all students. If all the gay kids wore T shirts saying “Be Intelligent, not homophobic” this judge probably would have ruled against them due to his obvious Christian, anti-gay bias.
We do have a constitution and free speech under it, however, schools have a responsibility to maintain a safe learning environment. As such, there are proscribed limits on what opinions “drooling idiots” can express. If an expression can have a disrupting effect on the learning environment, then a school is justified in restricting that conduct.
I would argue that this type of shirt would be disruptive because it sends the wrong message about people who are different than whay is projected as “acceptable.”
Another thing to be aware of, the judge (Richard Posner) who issued the opinion is a well-known right-wing conservative. He has always taken the most extreme and conservative views when it comes to personal rights of minority groups. But he can always be counted on to side with big business and government intrusion into privacy. He is exactly the type of judge we should shudder at the prospects of getting on the Supreme Court.
To those decrying Judge Posner and his opinion, you got his political allegiance wrong. This is a man who is neither liberal nor conservative, he’s a libertarian. As a law student, I’ve read numerous opinions of his. I would be very surprised if he based his opinion on the content of the message on the shirt. This is just a judge who believes that individual rights trump all. If the student was wearing any of the shirts suggested above, I suspect Judge Posner would allow it to be worn. That’s just the type of judge he is.
Really DanGOP, if Judge Posner is such a staunch defender of individual rights, then he would obviously be in favor of gay marriage, right? Isn’t that an individual right?
In fact, he is not in favor of gay marriage because in his view, public opinion has not accepted it yet. Under that reasoning, individual rights only become recognized when the majority say that are acceptable. That does not sound like an individual rights position no matter what label you want to cloak it under.
That’s why I said his opinion go rightward when issues of minority groups (which we are one) are concerned.
Here is Posner’s blog page and you can read for yourself.
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