FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Anti-War School Girl Gets Boot

by Michael Colby

Civil liberties are often the first casualties of war, just ask the 15-year old sophomore from Charleston, West Virginia who wanted to start a high school club that opposed the U.S. war on Afghanistan. Katie Sierra, a self-described anarchist, not only wanted to start a club to spread her views against the bombing but she also went to school wearing this message on her t-shirt: “When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America.”

But the school officials at her Sissonville High School ruled that neither the club nor the t-shirt would be allowed on school premises. And when Sierra insisted on wearing her t-shirt she was suspended by the school’s principal. Worse, when Sierra appealed the principle’s decision to the county board of education, the board upheld the decision.

“We want students to be able to express themselves, but in a way that does not disrupt the educational process,” explained board member Cheryle Hall. “We will back [the principal] to make sure the environment at the school is protected and harmonious.”

Sierra responded by filing a lawsuit, arguing that her free speech rights were being violated. And, to add insult to First Amendment injury, the West Virginia judge who received the case ruled almost immediately in favor of the school.

“The Constitution is at stake,” declared Roger Forman, Sierra’s attorney. “Every day her free speech is inhibited, the Constitution is harmed.”

On Monday Forman filed an appeal with the West Virginia Supreme Court. There’s no timetable on when (or if) the court will hear the case.

In an interview with the Daily Curio, Forman also reported that he was considering libelous suits against at least one member of the Board of Education for comments made during the public hearing they held on the matter. According to Forman, board member John Luoni accused Sierra of “committing treason” by espousing her anti-war views.

“Accusing someone of committing a crime when there was no crime committed is libelous,” Forman told the Curio. “And we intend to follow up on it.”

The local media in the Charlestown area has been pummeling Sierra in the court of public opinion in recent days. On November 5, Sierra’s hometown newspaper, the Charleston Daily Mail, ran a stinging editorial with this headline: “The School Day is for Education, Not Disruptive Political Expression.”

The Daily Mail’s editorial began with this head-scratching gem: “Americans cherish the freedoms guaranteed them under the Constitution, but the thoroughly egocentric exercise of those rights becomes tiresome.” And it ended with this similarly frightening bit of reasoning: “Americans have the right to express themselves, and that is sacred. But there is not, and never has been, a constitutional right to force everybody else in society to listen during school hours.”

Forman reported that Sierra is following the rules set forth by the school until the matter is ultimately resolved in the courts. But she’s not giving up all her rights to protest against both the killing by Osama bin Laden and the killing being done in the name of her country. Forman said that while Sierra is not wearing her slogan-bearing t-shirt, she is wearing black armbands as a symbol of her opposition to the U.S. militaristic response to the September 11th attacks.

“She’s a bright kid,” Forman said. “She’s a politically astute kid. And she doesn’t believe that war – and more killing – is the answer to our problems.”

Michael Colby is the editor of the Food & Water Journal. His last story for CounterPunch, Nuked Mail, dissected the feds’ plan to irradiate the US mail as a way to calm fears about anthrax and help bail out the nuclear waste industry.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail