I learned some interesting things from Will Morris, a reporter for the Juneau Empire who did the most recent story on the "Bong Hits for Jesus" case. Morris himself had spent a couple years in Asia himself as an ex-patriot (as the Frederick's are now doing) and said he hated every hour of it.
Morris had done his homework on Joseph Frederick's dad, and mentioned some facts in his article. The dad worked for the insurance company who represented the school, and they put much pressure on him to drop the initial court case. When he refused, they then demoted him to a closet job someplace, and later fired him 'for cause'. He sued them and won a settlement ($100K), but they they saw to it he was blacklisted and he was unable to find another job in over a year of looking. Eventually he was forced to take a job teaching English to rich American businessmen's children in Asia. Sadly, he and his son are now refugees from their own country - simply for sticking up for the son's civil rights.
The "Bong Hits For Jesus" case is widely recognized as laughable by observers who aren't so myopic or regressive as the Juneau District School Board. There have been many stories in the media recognizing this as a school boy stunt which literally became a FEDERAL CASE! I believe most of those board members must be feeling pretty embarrassed and chagrined by now. (Incidently, there were SOME school board members who voted against pursuing the case). But, on the other hand I am always amazed at how far repressive dogmatics will stubbornly insist on being wrong. We see an prime example of this with our president's approach to the Iraq War - another case where idiocy prevails with terrible costs for everyone.
The entire episode with the Fredericks really makes me angry. First, that the regressives on the school board have had their way in stubbornly pressing this issue to its present limits, and secondly, that big US corporations can and will so freely 'punish' someone for simply claiming their rights - and then so easily get away with it. In the meantime, the taxpayer is footing the bills!
I also believe the Juneau District School Board will get a real black eye when all the true costs are finally exposed - and I feel sure eventually much of those will be, at least if I have anything to do with it. By that time though it will be ancient history and the culprits will have slid back under their rocks. I have officially asked for an accounting, but Juneau District Superintendent Peggy Cowan claims (by letter) that they 'haven't specifically tracked the costs of the case' or words to that effect - but did admit to many thousands of dollars before Kenneth Starr got involved. Were this occur in a business setting, heads would quickly roll! Apparently you can be more casual with taxpayer's money.
I don't know what will happen in the Supreme Court (case will be heard in a few days) with its present make-up, but let's hope that the judges will actually defend constitutional rights. That's none too sure with the present make-up of the US Supreme Court, and only time will tell.
There's much truth to the adage that 'he who controls the purse, controls everything' - at least in our capitalist society it does. And, that's both the shame and the Achilles Heel of capitalism.
When capitalism runs amok and gains overweening control as it has in our country in the past few decades (since Reagan), it becomes arrogant and aggressively anti-populist - which you can see examples of everywhere you look today in the US. Individuals and personal rights are routinely subordinated to Big Money in wholesale lots. Big Money demands, gets or takes every possible tax advantage while the burden grows ever heavier on the little guy. At some point 'the people' become fed up and will seek to readjust things. Unfortunately, such readjustment is often accompanied with upheaval, civil war, revolution and much death and destruction follows. I fear we're eventually in for that in the US unless we can recapture things before it is too late. I can not remember a time in my entire life when our society was so venomously polarized. But remember, in any civil upheaval, there's never a guarantee that the 'good guys' will always prevail either. We've witnessed the opposite many, many times.
Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is perceived by many as a ray of populist hope in the western hemisphere - not that he's any choir boy himself - and that is why he is being slammed, demonized and resisted at every turn by the US, and especially by corporate interests. He is seen as a mortal danger to US and global corporate interests, just as Castro was in Cuba since the 60's.
And sadly, once again the political leaders of our country will seek to isolate, embargo and punish Chavez's Venezuela. Chavez himself may or not be affected very much if at all, but you can bet your bippy the common and poor people of Venezuela will pay terrible costs. And essentially, all for corporate hegemony in the name of 'Capitalism'.
Will democratic peoples ever wake up to the madness and the insanity of corporate control of our countries and reclaim our own destinies?
That will only happen when we become disturbed and involved enough to demand it!