Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Triumph of Law Over Common Sense

One of the recurring problems of free speech law is the concept of being "content-neutral." A government agency is allowed to prohibit certain forms of speech as long as the content of the speech is not a factor in making the decision. Thus, a public university can prohibit speeches by uninvited speakers as long as the decision isn't based on the content. If they let uninvited speaker A deliver a speech about the evils of capitalism, they can't let uninvited speaker B deliver a speech about how capitalism is a good thing. Professor Volokh has a discussion of this question of content neutrality over here.

A high school in North Carolina has banned the American flag on campus
--as a result of one of these insane triumphs of ACLUism over common sense:
SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. – On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, students at one high school were not allowed to wear clothes with an American Flag.

Under a new school rule, students at Hobbton High School are not allowed to wear items with flags, from any country, including the United States.

The new rule stems from a controversy over students wearing shirts bearing flags of other countries.
Does it bother anyone besides me that the laws of the United States have been twisted to put a symbol of the United States at the same level of protection as symbols of other nations? I'm not sure that I am keen on a ban on flags from other countries--which I suspect is aimed at Mexican nationalists who, for some odd reason, love Mexico so much that they have to move to the U.S.--but banning the flag of our country just to prohibit antipatriotic uses of the Mexican flag is nonsensical.

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