Up in Smoke At The High Court

Up in Smoke At The High Court
Posted by CN Staff on March 20, 2007 at 06:23:44 PT
By Dana Milbank
Source: Washington Post 
Washington, DC -- So maybe this is why all those figures in the Supreme Court friezes are wearing togas.As Ken Starr told the nine justices yesterday why a student's "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner didn't qualify as free speech, the whole bunch of them sounded one toke over the line. "So if the sign had been 'Bong Stinks for Jesus,' that would be . . . a protected right?" asked Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
"Suppose that this particular person had whispered to his next-door neighbor, 'Bong hits for Jesus, heh, heh, heh'?" contributed Stephen Breyer."What if the sign said 'Bong Hits Should be Legal'?" queried John Paul Stevens.Anthony Kennedy got really psychedelic. "Suppose the banner said 'Vote Republican'?"David Souter inhaled. Imagine, he said, that the student "just holds a little sign in the Shakespeare class that says 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' . . . and they say, 'Well, so-and-so has got his bong sign again.' They then return to 'Macbeth.' "Far out. Antonin Scalia wanted a turn. "Smoke Pot, It's Fun," he proposed." 'Rape Is Fun'?" offered Kennedy." 'Extortion Is Profitable'?" Scalia rejoined.All that was missing in the chamber yesterday was black light and Bob Marley. And to think Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his nomination to the high court because he had used marijuana.If the justices sounded as if they were doin' the doobies yesterday morning, the case invited a certain amount of reefer madness. The case began when a high school kid unfurled a banner across the street from his Juneau, Alaska, high school in 2002 when the Olympic torch was passing through town. By the student's own admission, the sign had no meaning, but that didn't matter. The principal suspended him; he sued. Ken Starr and the Bush administration sided with the principal. The ACLU and various Christian groups sided with the student. Thus does a high school prank become a federal case -- an important First Amendment case before the high court, no less.Breyer lamented that the student's action wasn't "a serious effort" to challenge drug laws. "It was a joke -- it was a 15-foot banner," he told the student's lawyer, Douglas Mertz, before demanding: "What's your response?""My response, Your Honor, is that, first of all, it was a 14-foot banner," Mertz answered."That's an excellent response," Breyer judged.It was as good a response as any for a case in which a Dadaist slogan in Juneau will wind up setting a new precedent for students' speech. If Starr and the administration prevail, students might lose any semblance of free expression. If the other side wins, teachers might lose any semblance of order in the classroom.The justices seemed frustrated with both sides. Starr got only 90 words into his argument before being interrupted by Kennedy, then Souter, each demanding to know how the banner had been disruptive. "I'm missing the argument," Souter told the former Whitewater prosecutor.Even Chief Justice John Roberts, though sympathetic to Starr's case, pointed out: "The problem, Mr. Starr, is that school boards these days take it upon themselves to broaden their mission well beyond education."The skepticism grew when Edwin Kneedler, an administration lawyer, tried to argue that a school could ban any speech "inconsistent" with its educational mission. "I find that a very disturbing argument," Samuel Alito said. Schools "can define their educational mission so broadly that they can suppress all sorts of political speech."Mertz, arguing for the student, fared even worse than Starr and Kneedler. He got out only one sentence -- "This is a case about free speech; it is not a case about drugs" -- before Roberts interrupted."It's a case about money," the chief justice said."Would you waive damages against this principal, who has devoted her life to this school?" asked Kennedy. "You're seeking damages from her for this sophomoric sign that was held up."Mertz didn't get much further before Scalia piped up. "This is a very, very -- with all due respect -- ridiculous line," he advised the lawyer, in a tone that did not suggest respect. "Where do you get that line from?"Scalia, in fact, went even further than Starr in making Starr's case. "Any school," he proposed, "can suppress speech that advocates violation of the law.""What about listening to the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. -- conscientious objection and so forth?" Starr responded.The argument was complicated by the plain fact that the justices had no idea what "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" meant in the first place. (The creator of the banner, now living in China, was arrested for distributing marijuana while in college.) "This banner was interpreted as meaning, 'Smoke Pot,' no?" asked Scalia."Exactly, yes," Starr answered.Souter dissented. "It sounds like just a kid's provocative statement to me," he said."One could look at these words and say it's just nonsense," Ginsburg concurred. "It isn't clear that this is 'Smoke Pot.' "But Scalia was moving on. "How about the student who calls out, 'Drugs are good for you -- I use them all the time'?" he proposed. "That's perfectly okay?"Source: Washington Post (DC)Author:  Dana MilbankPublished: Tuesday, March 20, 2007; A02Copyright: 2007 Washington Post Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:ACLU’ Right To Free Speech Debate Student's Suspension for Banner Weigh Free Speech vs. School Control
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Comment #16 posted by Toker00 on March 21, 2007 at 09:44:54 PT
I can tell you I have never seen such works of art in a head shop. Your work deserves to be on a pedestal, in an art gallery.Toke.
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on March 21, 2007 at 07:06:08 PT
Another artist among us... and business entrepenuer!*Smile*Your work is beautiful. Amazing, really. Thank you, Duzt. The earth has more pretty and beautiful stuff because of your work. You're making it a that much better place because of your creations.
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Comment #14 posted by duzt on March 21, 2007 at 06:55:16 PT
thanks for the compliments..
If you want to learn about glass blowing, find a local blower and ask to watch. I was in Ireland on a trip and went to Waterford and told them I was a blower ( I wasn't yet so is was a bit of un untruth) and they pulled me out of the group and let me sit and blow glass with them. They then took me on a private tour and let just hang out so I decided to take it further. Now I make a decent living at it and get to make my own hours. The hardest part is affording the initial investment of the set-up but it's worth it if your an artist and like fire.
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Comment #13 posted by SoberStoner on March 20, 2007 at 23:08:19 PT
Those are truly fantastic pieces. I've always been a fan of glasswork and always thought I would like to learn how to blow glass myself, I just never seem to get around to it.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 20, 2007 at 16:35:06 PT
You do good work. 
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Comment #11 posted by duzt on March 20, 2007 at 16:08:21 PT
glasspipes, good glass galleries
I post some of my work on as well. It's a good site that is just a gallery and not for sales or glass. My gallery is at
but I rarely post so that is mostly older work.
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Comment #10 posted by AOLBites on March 20, 2007 at 14:16:42 PT
ot: glass
And now for some Art ... for the glassblowers reading here....
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Comment #9 posted by sam adams on March 20, 2007 at 12:44:17 PT
Good point, that is exactly what this is about. Banning glass pipes won't stop anyone from using cannabis. It may force some people to use brown cardboard paper-towel tubes instead of beautiful glass artwork. Big Government never likes art. They tear down nice architecture to put up big ugly white concrete. Conrete manufacturers give great kickbacks! They're all run by the mafia. Artists don't have money or connections.Remember Penn Station in NY? Scollay Square in Boston? 
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Comment #8 posted by duzt on March 20, 2007 at 07:43:35 PT
I meant to say the business I distribute my glass to (in the US, I distribute in Amsterdam too) has been open over 20 years, I've been blowing around 6 years. It's hard to teach the younger generation anything nowadays, huge attitudes and very little will to learn as they seem to know everything already. It can be frustrating. This new move by the government put a squeeze on a lot of people but it will pass like always. I'm writing, and I suggest others do as well, to Dennis Kucinich about this and medical marijuana issues as he is open and in a position to help now. They sure don't like artists, not many dictators do. 
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Comment #7 posted by Had Enough on March 20, 2007 at 07:23:37 PT
Duzt #5
I’ve seen the glass blowing process up close several times.  It really intrigued my interest, but I have never tried it. I’ve seen some fantastic works of art from glass blowers.You’ve been doing it for 20 yrs??? Cool. Keep on with the work, teach someone younger your trade, and pass it on…………
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Comment #6 posted by Had Enough on March 20, 2007 at 07:11:08 PT
Fight4freedom’s #3
“Steiger said the court ruled all the items in question, with the exception of scales, were in fact drug paraphernalia.”““I’m very pleased with the change in law,” Grenkowicz said. “I think it will be a big improvement. We were always troubled with mixed message that was being sent to young people that drugs were illegal but it was all right to sell drug paraphernalia.””Pipes you can smoke tobacco from are out, but scales are ok!!!The message sent here has certainty been mixed.
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Comment #5 posted by duzt on March 20, 2007 at 07:09:45 PT
fight 4 freedom
it seems the government is doing it again, but more quietly this time. I am a glassblower and the shop (in business for over 20 years) that I distribute to in Nevada suddenly stopped buying pipes (it's their main revenue). Same story, they are trying to ban all pipes in Nevada and enforce it. Seems the government has lots of free time and money right now since the world is so peaceful and quiet.
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on March 20, 2007 at 06:51:24 PT
Scalia hall of fame
It's a disgrace to our country to have this guy on the SC. Like Ashcroft, he is a religious extremist with no place in the government of a modern Western country.In Scalia view, it's fine that this Alaska kid's father is fired from his job for his son's silly banner, while Scalia's daughter is drunk driving with three kids and he gets to keep HIS job as head Moralist of 300 million people.
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Comment #3 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 20, 2007 at 06:46:12 PT:
This one kind of just snuck up on us here in MI
Published: Saturday, March 17, 2007
The Alpena News
New legislation makes sale of bongs, pipes illegalBy SARA ROBINSONRetailers who sell bongs, dugouts and pipes designed for drug use will face prosecution after March 20, thanks to legislation signed into law by the governor in December.The legislation, which has direct ties to a case heard in Alpena County in 2003, closes a loophole that allowed the continued sale of these items despite a law that prohibits businesses from selling drug paraphernalia in Michigan. Bongs, dugouts and pipes were exempt because they could be used to smoke tobacco or herbs.“That exemption is now gone,” said Presque Isle County Prosecutor Richard Steiger, who handled the case while he served as an assistant prosecutor with the Alpena County prosecutor’s office. “With the loophole now closed up, it will be illegal for businesses to continue to sell those items in the State of Michigan.”The case arose when the Alpena County prosecutor’s office gave notice to Concert Connection owner Wayne Gauthier that he would be prosecuted for the sale of drug paraphernalia, Steiger said. In response to the notice, Gauthier’s attorney filed a request for the 26th Circuit Court judge to make a declaratory ruling stating whether or not the sale of the items was illegal according to Michigan statute.Steiger said the court ruled all the items in question, with the exception of scales, were in fact drug paraphernalia.When the case was appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the court of appeals agreed with the 26th Circuit Court opinion that the items were drug paraphernalia. But the court also ruled a clause in the statute that creates an exception for items that could be used to smoke tobacco or other herbs allowed for the continued sale of bongs, dugouts and pipes.“The court of appeals stated right in their opinion that it was an absurd result, but their hands were tied,” said Alpena County Prosecutor Dennis Grenkowicz.The court invited Michigan legislators to amend the statute that created a loophole for drug paraphernalia that also could be used to smoke tobacco.The legislation was passed last year and signed by the governor in December.“I’m very pleased with the change in law,” Grenkowicz said. “I think it will be a big improvement. We were always troubled with mixed message that was being sent to young people that drugs were illegal but it was all right to sell drug paraphernalia.”Sale of drug paraphernalia is a 90-day misdemeanor.Steiger said the legislation will enable prosecutors to better enforce the statute that prohibits sale of drug paraphernalia.The change in law won’t affect the sale of tobacco pipes, he said.Gauthier declined to comment.Sara Robinson can be reached via e-mail at srobinson or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 316.
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Comment #2 posted by duzt on March 20, 2007 at 06:43:35 PT
scalia is such an ignorant ahole
what is with this comment????But Scalia was moving on. "How about the student who calls out, 'Drugs are good for you -- I use them all the time'?" he proposed. "That's perfectly okay?"What percent of these same kids are on ritalin (a drug last time I checked)? How many times to I have to be told on TV that these "drugs" are good for us. These people are such incredible hypocrites. This Supreme Court is no more valid than any other judges that were put in by Bush. I say no more taxes until things change, too bad more people don't stop paying this government to screw us.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on March 20, 2007 at 06:41:09 PT
But Scalia was moving on. "How about the student who calls out, 'Drugs are good for you -- I use them all the time'?" he proposed. "That's perfectly okay?"I don't know Scalia, how drunk were you when you went duck hunting with Cheney, whose case you were hearing? As drunk as Cheney was when he shot his friend in the face? I guess being dishonest and corrupt in your job, as you were as a Supreme Court Justice in that case, is better than using "drugs". This case is a sad sign of the times, that grown men and women, supposedly our best and brightest, are wasting time dickering over this case.  Over an incident the small-minded government administrator should have laughed off in the first place.Half of high school kids admit to using cannabis, the real number is probably 70 or 80 percent. Are we really arguing over "free speech"??  I would say the horse is out of the barn. The toothpaste is out of the tube. No, this was a vindictive attack on someone by the government. They got the head of the family fired from his job, which he used to feed and shelter his family. This is another canary-in-the-coalmine indicator that government power is WAY out of control.Remember that Scalia once had security goons accost the journalists at one of his speaking events, demanding that give up all tapes & videos of the speech. I guess that's his idea of free society.
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