Saturday, May 13, 2006

Right Wing Idiocy Versus Reality in Alaska

This situation is very illustrative of overreaction by regressive & fundamentalist type mentalities now prevailing in parts of our country. I understand the person involved is a sort in your face type. He also has great parental support. So long as we have people like this coming along there is still hope for our country:

Joseph Frederick, a former Juneau, Alaska high school senior with a light course load got crosswise with local school authorities one day because he was hanging around reading a book waiting for his girlfriend after his own classes finished for the day. Instead of addressing things calmly, reasonably and maturely, the vice principle’s Hitlerian instinct must have kicked in and he overreacted.

Having a low tolerance for authoritarian nonsense the student objected and the vice principal called the police. This was the beginning of an ”escalation of abuse of power versus student rights” in the student’s words.
Next day, the student refused to honor the Pledge of Allegiance in class and school authorities overreacted again by suspending the student from school.

Most people would have desisted at this point, but this student having recently taken an American Justice course and believing in the things he had been taught, planned and began a symbolic campaign of civic disobedience in the classic Henry David Thoreau tradition.
The student had a banner made reading ‘Bong Hits For Jesus’ which he displayed off campus during the running of the Olympic Torch in 2002. The high school was turned out for students to watch. Now the CaCa really hit the fan and school authorities’ overreactions were both draconian and illegal, extending even to making false, underhanded and unfounded official accusations that the student was a drug dealer.

The student was arrested and taken to jail; his car was impounded and torn apart and searched. No drugs were found and the student was released with fifteen cents in his pocket. Some drug dealer! He had to walk 3 miles home in 10 degree temperatures wearing only a tee shirt because he couldn’t even make a phone call. He was also suspended from school for an additional ten days.

Read for yourself about this almost unbelievable situation in the student’s own words here in this link. “JOE’S STORY”.

The ACLU then became involved - they don’t become involved lightly, believe me - and the issue went to court. The student lost in lower court but prevailed in the Ninth District Court on appeal. Unbelievably, the Juneau School Board, being dominated by right wing idiocy now plans to appeal the issue all the way to the US Supreme Court with Kenneth Starr as their pro bono attorney. Yes, THAT Kenneth Starr, already infamous for partisan right wing idiocy.

Joe Frederick - who is not into drugs at all - has now become a folk hero and an icon to the drug culture. The juneau School Board busily buffs the luster of his fame every day. His story has been reported around the world. Instead of being a ‘school discipline issue’ as the school board so self-righteously claims, this is really political & religious activism authored by a right wing nut case majority on the Juneau School Board. They are evidently blinded by their dogma and now busily adding fuel to the flames and digging their own hole deeper.

Such appears to be a classic style right wing overreaction and idiocy. Meanwhile the student's suit for violation of his civil rights is expected with the potential for being very expensive for Juneau taxpayers. The lawyers are lining up in the hopes of being involved.

Our local paper, the Juneau Empire last week came out with an editorial titled "A Silly Banner and a Stupid Court Appeal" which sarcastically asks "What is the Juneau School Board smoking?" During a special school board meeting this week several people including at least three local attorneys got up to address the school board to tell them how wrong they are in very strong terms, yet the board grimly and pigheadedly continues to persist in the face of all sanity, reasonableness and reality! It simply boggles the mind.

Tragically, we see this same regressive, intransigent mentality on a grand and massive scale on the national level where it now has claimed over 2400 young American lives in Iraq.

A humorous side note: Alaska’s far right Republican governor Frank Murkowski - not incidentally the second most unpopular governor in the country after Ohio's Bob Taft - was also honored by having his own “Bong Hits For Murkowski” bumper sticker plastered on the fence around the governor’s mansion in Juneau. Murkowski has recently been very proactive on marijuana, heavily crusading against Alaskans' legal right to possess a small amount of weed for personal use.
Yeah, the Juneau, Alaska School Board sure is effectively dealing with discipline and drug use alright! Joe Frederick must be laughing his ass off!