Flying Fickle Finger of Fate [PHIL-OSOPHY]
Some of you have a way with words, while others do better expressing themselves by finger-spelling – if you know what I mean.
I'm bringing this up because the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether or not a public school can discipline students for things they say outside of school? A Pennsylvania high school cheerleader didn't make the squad, so she and a friend are seen flipping off her school and dropping a blitzkrieg of f-bombs during a Saturday Snapchat.
In the past, the courts have afforded school districts broad powers to discipline students for speech considered disruptive when they're in school, but this case centers around an angry high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for posting a Saturday Snapchat photo and text message the school administration said was negative, disrespectful, and demeaning about cheerleading at the school.
On one side of this controversy, the school district claims they should be able to treat students alike when disruptive speech is directed at the school, no matter where it originates. The courts have generally been sympathetic to that argument. The young lady's lawyer doesn't agree, hoping the court will decide that when the student is not under the school's supervision, when they're under parental supervision, students and their parents get to decide what's appropriate for them to say, and not the school.
In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled schools can punish students for speech in school that disrupts school activities. The school district is asking the court only to rule that it can apply that same standard to speech outside of school.
I believe the moment this student decided to direct her rage directly towards the school district and the people who run it, she crossed the line. Do you agree?
It's a very interesting case because back when all this happened, the banished cheerleader could not have known the future of American First Amendment law hung in the balance of her middle finger.
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.