Thursday, June 28, 2007

Supreme Court: "No bong hits for you, Jesus"

When Alaskan highschooler Joseph Frederick decided to garner a bit of notoreity with a banner declaring "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during a school event, he was almost surely daring the principal to do something about it. Do something she did, and after a long and winding road, the Supreme Court has agreed with her, citing the inappropriate use of pro-drug language.

Is it a drug-related case? Chief Justice Roberts and the majority insisted that it was, but Justice Stevens allows the students a little more credit than this:

"Admittedly, some high school students (including those who use drugs) are dumb. Most students, however, do not shed their brains at the schoolhouse gate, and most students know dumb advocacy when they see it. The notion that the message on this banner would actually persuade either the average student or even the dumbest one to change his or her behavior is most implausible." (Morse v. Frederick (No. 06-278) Stevens, J., dissenting, slip op. at 12).

Stevens (like the ACLU, Center for Individual Rights, National Coalition Against Censorship, American Center for Law and Justice, and the Rutherford Institute) thinks this is a free speech issue, not a drug issue. The fact that many conservative Christian groups agree, fearing precedent for censorship of religious messages, would seem to support this. He points out that no reasonable high school student would interpret this nonsensical banner as a serious call to toke up. It is the mere presence of the word "bong," in point of fact, which underlies the entire crux of the school's case. It's alarming when any word is considered so dangerous that it's not acceptable to use it even in a humorous context. Frederick may have been poking fun at the school, but it's disheartening that the Supreme Court didn't get the joke.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Not the place you'd expect good satire-related writing...

It's actually ridiculous, but for two months in a row now, the in-flight magazine for US Airways has published great pieces related to the world of satire.

In their May 2007 issue, William Trotter's Jokes, Hoaxes, and Just Plain Lies offers a great history lesson on the art of fooling the public - and your political enemies. And the June 2007 issue features the last interview conducted with one of the greatest satirists of the 20th century, Kurt Vonnegut.

One quote from it I wanted to pull for you:

I asked my son Mark what he thought life was all about, and he said, “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” I think that says it best.

Little food for thought on a Monday morning.
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Satire pervades the web, seeping into mailboxes and mainstream news like a spilled cup of coffee. It stains and it won't go away.

The Bitter Cup is a collaborative blog for members of HumorFeed, a collaborative of satire and humor sites that has been making trouble since 2003.