FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Students on the Drug War’s Front Lines

by ANTHONY PAPA

On March 20, student free speech joined the panoply of endangered fundamental rights ready to be stripped away from us due to the tragedy of the drug war. Kenneth Starr, former solicitor general, who reached broad fame by highlighting a presidential sex scandal in the Clinton years, stood before the land’s highest court to argue the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case.

It all started innocently enough when 18-year-old Joe Frederick sought his “15 minutes of fame” by pulling a harmless prank. In 2002, in front of his high school, during a procession of the Olympic torch relay brigade, Joe unrolled a 14-foot banner bearing the words “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” Soon after the cameras caught the act, his high school principal suspended him for ten days for displaying the banner, in apparent violation of school policy limiting speech that promotes illegal drug use. Frederick soon brought a lawsuit against his school principal in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in his favor, finding that the principal had violated Frederick’s First Amendment rights.

The case subsequently reached the Supreme Court where Starr argued on behalf of the former principal and the school. Starr developed a legal strategy to defend the school’s position that the language in question on the banner clearly went against the school’s anti-drug mission. He even had former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey stand beside him on the Supreme Court steps for a photo op. Frederick’s lawyer countered Starr’s argument explaining that the case was really all about free speech, and not a case about drugs or drug use. Win or lose, Starr used this worldwide platform to advocate the government’s zero-tolerance policy views on drugs.

Students are now on the front lines of the war on drugs. Whether it be random, suspicionless student drug testing, or having police dogs sniffing around school lockers for drugs, students are now feeling the heavy-handedness of the government’s overzealous efforts to keep them “drug-free.” Get busted smoking a joint and lose federal funding for education. Talk about bong hits and face suspension. Where will it end?

In the government’s attempt to win the drug war, it has little regard for our precious given rights as outlined in the Constitution. Drug users and people wrestling with addiction everywhere are routinely demonized by the moral majority. Chip by chip or, in this case, bong hit by bong hit, our fundamental rights are going up in smoke. Americans across the land must be made better aware of this travesty.

Everyone who is concerned about free speech should be concerned with the outcome of this case. If the government can silence us about the drug war today, they can silence us on Iraq tomorrow and global warming the day after that.

ANTHONY PAPA is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and Communications Specialist for Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

 

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 30, 2016
Russell Mokhiber
Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain
Mike Whitney
Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?
Alice Bach
Sorrow and Grace in Palestine
Sam Husseini
Why We Should All Remain Seated: the Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Richard Moser
Transformative Movement Culture and the Inside/Outside Strategy: Do We Want to Win the Argument or Build the Movement?
Nozomi Hayase
Pathology, Incorporated: the Facade of American Democracy
David Swanson
Fredric Jameson’s War Machine
Jan Oberg
How Did the West Survive a Much Stronger Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact?
Linda Gunter
The Racism of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombings
Dmitry Kovalevich
In Ukraine: Independence From the People
Omar Kassem
Turkey Breaks Out in Jarablus as Fear and Loathing Grip Europe
George Wuerthner
A Birthday Gift to the National Parks: the Maine Woods National Monument
Logan Glitterbomb
Indigenous Property Rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline
National Lawyers Guild
Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
100 in Anarchist Years
August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail