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Pushback: FIRE sues school for banning students from wearing “Let’s Go Brandon” shirts

The evil shirt Tri-County Area School officials banned
The evil shirt Tri-County school officials banned

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Because school officials at Tri-County Middle School in Michigan forbid two students from wearing sweatshirts that said “Let’s Go Brandon” on their fronts, even as they permitted other students to wear shirt promoting the queer agenda, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) has filed a lawsuit against the schools.

In Feb. 2022, two Tri County Middle School students wore sweatshirts to school with the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon,” a political slogan critical of President Biden with origins in a more profane chant. Even though the political slogan is widely used — multiple members of Congress used it during floor speeches — an assistant principal and a teacher ordered the boys to remove the sweatshirts. However, administrators allowed students to wear apparel with other political messages, including gay-pride-themed hoodies.

The incident is part of a pattern of political favoritism by the school district. When the school district relaxed the dress code for field day, a school administrator ordered a student to stop wearing a Trump flag as a cape, but permitted other students to wear gay pride flags in the same manner.

You can read the complaint here. It not only names Tri-County Area Schools as a defendant, it also names assistant principal Andrew Buikema and teacher Wendy Bradford, the two school officials who forced the students to remove the sweatshirts. The lawsuit also cites other examples where Buikema acted to silence the speech of conservative statements, while allowing other students to freely advocate the queer agenda.

The lawsuit claims these actions violated both students first and fourteenth amendment rights. It demands a permanent injunction enjoining the school from such actions, and demands compensatory and punitive damages as well as all legal fees and costs.

Though FIRE has filed many lawsuits defending freedom of speech at universities, this is its first lawsuit defending those same rights for K-12 students. It notes correctly that Supreme Court rulings since 1969 have repeatedly affirmed the rights of public school students to exercise their first amendment rights, and that the clearly partisan actions of school officials in this case is blatantly illegal.

The history of the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” is itself amusing. It quickly replaced an obscene chant cursing Joe Biden at sports events when a television reporter, interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown, made believe the chant fans were yelling in the background was “Let’s Go Brandon!” when it very clearly was not. Opponents of Joe Biden quickly adopted “Let’s Go Brandon” as a humorous and non-obscene way to condemn the president.

The school officials claimed its visibility on the students’ clothing was the equivalent of an obscenity. As noted by FIRE attorney Conor Fitzpatrick,

“The slogan exists as a way to express an anti-Biden message without using profanity,” explained Fitzpatrick. “A public school district cannot censor speech just because it might cause someone to think about a swear word.”

Obscene or not, the court has consistently favored free speech in these matters. That the school clearly had a partisan bias as to the political messages it would allow students to make, expect this school to lose, and lose badly and quickly.

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On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • David Eastman

    While they’re still wrong, and deserve to pay the penalty, I would bet large sums of money that these administrators, like so many others, don’t even perceive their political bias, and don’t even recognize the liberal and gay agenda speech they tolerate as being political.

  • wayne

    Forgiato Blow –
    Let’s Go Brandon

  • Cotour


    (They exist on both sides of the political divide but primarily and today overwhelmingly on the now radical Socialist Left. Authoritarian political power becomes a mental illness)

    Now I am not a smoker, either of cigarettes or marijuana. To me they are dirty, filthy, smelly, unhealthy habits a person should choose to do without. But that’s me. Nor am I a big drinker, I prefer a nice glass of wine, maybe two with my dinner once or twice a week. But again, that’s me.

    That being said, why exactly are those in government so driven to become the hyper stewards, caretakers and managers of the people’s self-determination instead of the empowerees of the people to make their own decisions regarding their own freedom and self determination to do pretty much as they please? Within reason of course.

    And we are not proposing that people be able to use and abuse drugs, live on the street, cause chaos and commit crime that endangers all who encounter them. That is a too literal interpretation of freedom and is unreasonable. And to allow such things as is being done now in many major American cities is both inhumane for those who abuse those drugs and unreasonable for those in the public who encounter, interact and are essentially forced to live with them. Many of those people in fact need to be interacted with by government and law enforcement for their and everyone else’s own good and not in real terms encouraged to continue their “Freedom” and self-determination death spiral.

    Educate, don’t dictate.

    And people without doubt do themselves harm using and abusing such things as cigarettes and alcohol and the many other drugs and mind and mood-altering consumables that they abuse. But how is it the government’s responsibility to absolutely regulate such things which are historically legal? People, human beings, historically are going to do what they please for the most part even if the government bans or makes such things illegal. And we clearly saw that regarding the moralists in politics banning of the sale of alcohol in America some 90 years ago. How did that work out?

    (And I recognize the documented comfort and medicinal benefits of marijuana for many people who use it to deal with many maladies they suffer from.)

    Is it me? Does that make sense to you? How is the smoking of marijuana superior or less harmful to smoking cigarettes? The calming and dulling effects of the marijuana on the developing brains of youth is preferred by the powers that be? You think that inhaling the smoke from cigarettes is incrementally more harmful than inhaling the smoke from marijuana and therefore is incrementally better? Really? That is some fancy sideways thinking to my mind. Maybe it is me?

    NY Gov. Kathy Hochul ‘test-marketing’ a ban on all tobacco sales

    “The survey, conducted by nonprofit research organization RTI International, was distributed to “community leaders” statewide, including “county legislators and county directors of public health,” according to an April 13 memo to prospective participants from Jennifer Lee, director of the Health Department’s Bureau of Tobacco Control.”

    Who is going to decide things you are allowed? What you are allowed to eat, allowed to smoke, allowed to drink, allowed the drive, allowed to teach your children, allowed to worship, where you are allowed to live, allowed too whatever. All counter and in direct opposition to the intent of the Constitution.

    Who will decide? “Nonprofits”, “International organizations”, “Community leaders”, “Legislators”, “Directors of health”. Trained and “highly educated” Socialist / Social engineers and Globalists will decide what you are allowed when you boil it all down. And that is the trajectory we seem to be being forced onto today.

    Those aspirational micro manager authoritarians in government on both sides of the political divide will decide. Keeping in mind the entity government is bereft of any morality because it is a thing and when “they” tell you they are moral, with the best intentions of course, you know they are deceiving you. You as a member of the Pedestrian Realm possess morality, those within government within the Political Realm have none or morality is optional. (See: S.O.M.)

    I guess they have to do something with the advanced degrees and indoctrination that they have received in the halls of the highest and most esteemed learning institutions in the country and the world. But unfortunately, they have all apparently been thoroughly indoctrinated in a heavily weighted Socialist and even Communist way of thinking. It is the nature of the beast “government”, and it is fundamentally un and anti-American.

    Again, educate, don’t dictate. (But dictating is so much faster and efficient!)

    Agree? Disagree? Is it me? Let me know.

    Are you paying attention yet America? jgl 4/23/23

  • James Street

    We’re gonna need a bigger millstone.

    “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
    – Jesus, Luke 17:2

  • Patrick Underwood

    Apparently the most difficult concept EVER, something that kicks the butts of the great geniuses of our time, is the concept of Free Speech. Think someone else’s publicly expressed opinion is so vile that it must be suppressed for the good of humanity? YOU are why the First Amendment was created and voted into law. Everyone, at some point, hates the First Amendment. Which is exactly the reason it’s so awesome.

  • Lee S

    Well Cotour…. Great work on once again moving a subject to whatever it is that’s on your mind!!

    That said…. The kids have the right, in a free and fair society, to wear whatever the heck they like on their hoodies ( expletives excluded ), I might not agree with the message, but it is not mine, or anyone’s right to tell them what to wear!

    I have been saying for several years now that the pendulum will swing back from the “loony” left, and it seems to be doing so. And thank which ever God you choose for that! The loony faction has been doing us moderate socialists no favours at all!!!

  • wayne

    “{Expletive} Bud Light”
    Forgiato Blow

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