Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I discover that I actually have an opinion about the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case other than that it's hilarious

A couple of days ago I put up a post about a recent Supreme Court case that I find fairly amusing; but I didn't really have any opinion on the case at the time other than it was funny to watch the lawyers for both sides collapse into helpless self-contradiction under the withering fire of the Justices' questions. But I discover now that I actually have an opinion.

See, I'll tell you what strikes me as absurd about all of this -- since I'm poking fun at the lawyers it's only fair to give people a chance to make fun of me. Now if you know me at all well you know I think the war on drugs is stupid and counterproductive, and also that it's a terrible idea to have the government involved in any capacity in the education of children, and therefore that this whole thing is a case of stupid laws creating stupid lawsuits. But set aside my general philosophy here for a moment and let's just look at this case -- this case that Ken Starr solemnly swears is about Keeping Our Children From Falling Prey To The Drug Fiends, and that Douglas Mertz swears is about Keeping Our Children Free To Express Political Opinions.

The first thing that just leaps out at you -- isn't it that this was just a joke from a kid trying to get on TV? I mean, with all due respect to Mr. Mertz, the young jackass wasn't carrying out some noble First Amendment duty to attempt to better our nation's laws. And, with all due respect to Mr. Starr, the young jackass wasn't trying to recruit kids into drug addition. He's just a kid trying to get some attention (in which pursuit, as you may have noticed, he was spectacularly successful). He was being a jackass, and he knew perfectly well the school wouldn't let him do it, and he skipped school in order to do it, and the principal made him take the sign down and slapped a two-week suspension on him, which the superintendent knocked down to five days. How in God's name does this wind up at the Supreme Court???? Our legal system really has gone more or less completely insane. And, a question for Mr. Mertz, who claims to adore the First Amendment with something of the reverence that Polish nuns have for the Blessed Virgin Mary: can trivializing the First Amendment in this way really do anything in the long run but lessen the general populace's reverence for it?

One other thing -- it occurs to me that, if my memory doesn't betray me, P. J. O'Rourke sat in on oral arguments for Texas vs. Johnson, one of the landmark First Amendment cases that preceded this one. (This was the flag-burning case.) His account is, like most of P. J.'s stuff, laugh-out-loud funny. You can find it in Parliament of Whores.


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