A federal appeals court has ruled that schools can ban the American flag in order to prevent violence.
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Bad news for free speech: A federal appeals court has ruled that schools can ban the American flag in order to prevent violence.
The court’s ruling: School administrators can force you to remove your American-flag tee if the alternative is a classmate punching you in the face. That’s because, per the Supreme Court, students don’t have the same free speech rights at school that adults do on other public grounds. At school, the name of the game is order and instruction; you’re entitled to free expression to the extent you don’t interfere with those goals, but once you do, the school’s entitled to limit your expression accordingly.
In other words, a bully can get the principal’s office to silence you by promising to beat your ass if they don’t.
This is, as Eugene Volokh notes, a classic “heckler’s veto” in that it rewards a violent actor by suppressing the speech that’s irritated him instead of punishing him for being violent.
So, according to this ruling, the only people who will have free speech will be those willing to threaten, and even use violence. A foolish and mindless ruling, if I ever saw one.