Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Federal Court Says Boobies Are Not Vulgar

Posted by: Noël Jones

Peter Hall of The Morning Call reports that the Easton Area School District lost the "I ♥ Boobies" bracelet case in U.S. federal court yesterday. In a 40 page decision, U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin ruled that the use of the word "boobies" on the breast cancer awareness bracelets was neither lewd nor disruptive, which was the basis for the school district's argument. "The bracelets are intended to be … viewed as speech designed to raise awareness of breast cancer and to reduce stigma associated with openly discussing breast health," and that punishing the two middle school girls who brought the case to court violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression under the U.S. Constitution.

I could not agree more. To argue that boys' bad behavior is somehow the responsibility of girls at all is outrageous--boys are responsible for their own behavior. To argue that boobies
are lewd is to blame girls and women and their bodies for the way that men and boys feel about them. Women and girls discuss boobies with each other and their small children with no sexual connotation at all every day, and that represents the majority of the population. But to argue that the word "boobies" on a bracelet is somehow more distracting than the very real boobies floating around in the school hallways each day on the way to class, is ridiculous. 

I am very happy for these girls, and their mothers who stood behind them to support their first foray into fighting for their constitutional rights in the face of much public pressure and scorn. I just wish that the Easton Area School District had never forced them to defend their rights in the first place, as it costs our tax money to cover the district's legal fees and any settlement that arises. Hopefully these families will be content with the satisfaction that they were proven right, and not penalize the district financially in a budget crisis, with 200+ teaching jobs on the chopping block.

Most of all, I hope that lots of kids and residents start wearing the bracelets, and educating each other on the serious threat that breast cancer poses to hundreds of thousands of Americans.

But as always, everyone is welcome to disagree with me--this time, however, the court is on my side!


Anonymous said...

I think the people in the Easton Area School District responsible for letting this matter escalate to one which needed to be decided by a judge in court should be fired. I think this was nothing more than a power play by someone with way too much free time on their hands rather than any sort of legitimate concern for our students welfare. If I had that much free time at work to be screwing around with trivial matters such as this I would consider myself an unproductive part of the organization.

tachitup said...

Aw, there you go again. You're using logic and common sense and trying to apply it to Jr High School boys.....that just doesn't work!
Yes, the facts are:
-girls are not responsible for boys behavior.
-breast cancer awareness is a good thing.
-boobies are not (usually) lewd, except to 13 yr old males- they are always lewd.
-to allow a 12 yr old student to defy the school administration is ridiculous, even when admin is wrong. Talk it out first.
-the wording on the bracelets is meant to be provocative; "Please Be Aware Of Breast Cancer" just doesn't do it.
-a female judge and a female blogger don't get it.
-if everyone wore a bracelet the boys would lose interest.

"But as always, everyone is welcome to disagree with me--this time, however, the court is on my side! "
Do I detect a bit of ", nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah"?

noel jones said...

that's nah, NANNY, nah, nah.

i repeat--females are not responsible for the lewd thoughts/behavior of men. it is their own personal responsibility, period.

so even if the girls' authority figure violates the constitution, they should just obey it? should we then just accept anything that authority figures tell us to do that is unconstitutional? (the libertarians will have a hay day with that one)...

the girls wore the bracelets with good intentions and then were punished. their mothers tried to talk it out with the administration, who wouldn't budge. so they sued.

it's so stupid and stubborn on the part of the administration. stupid and costly to us.

noel jones said...

Here is the opening statement from the preliminary injunction--and apparently the district is APPEALING:

'This case involves a middle school’s ban cancer awareness bracelets that bear the slogan “I (Keep A Breast)” and similar statements. These bracelets are distributed by the Keep A Breast Foundation, which operates breast cancer education programs and campaigns that are oriented toward young women. On the school’s designated breast cancer awareness day, two female students defied the school’s bracelet prohibition and both were suspended for a day and a half and prohibited from attending an upcoming school dance. The students, by and through their parents, filed this law suit seeking, among other things, a preliminary injunction to enjoin the school district from enforcing the ban.
on breast Ì Boobies!
The plaintiffs argue that the school has violated their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The two Supreme Court cases examining student speech that are most relevant to this case are Fraser and Tinker. See Bethel Sch. Dist. v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986); Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty.

Fraser allows schools to ban speech that is lewd or vulgar. If the speech does not meet the standard of Fraser, Tinker applies. Tinker forbids the suppression of student expression unless that expression is reasonably foreseen as a material and substantial disruption of the work and discipline of the school. The school district contends that the bracelets are lewd and vulgar under Fraser and if not, that they caused a substantial disruption of school operations under Tinker or the School District had a reasonable expectation of such disruption.
The Court concludes that these bracelets cannot reasonably be considered lewd or vulgar under the standard of Fraser. The bracelets are intended to be and they can reasonably be viewed as speech designed to raise awareness of breast cancer and to reduce stigma associated with openly discussing breast health. Nor has the school district presented evidence of a well-founded expectation of material and substantial disruption from wearing these bracelets under Tinker. The Court will therefore grant the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction.'

Anonymous said...

more wasted money the EASD will spend fighting something with no legal basis. They need their money for the bigger lawsuit and that's the Monroe case...........and even with this lawsuit caused by Joe Kish, he is still employed by the district. Can you believe it?

noel jones said...

And Kish will be retiring on a lovely pension paid by the tax payers. The responsibility for fast-tracking an unsustainable teachers contract, dismissing parent and student complaints about an alleged child molester, and the racial discrimination suit against the district, all fall directly in his lap, and all he will get for it apparently, is a big fat pension paid by US.

This is what happens when Easton residents are complacent and content to sit behind their computers, pointing fingers, criticizing and complaining--we need for EVERYONE to start taking serious ACTION when public officials fail us like this, so that they don't get to just dismiss us and coast into paid retirement like Kish. Attending meetings, writing letters to the editor, voting for elected officials that will call administrators like Kish out, or running for office to be that person if we think we are well-suited for the job--otherwise ACTIVELY SEEKING candidates that are...

iheartbigboobs said...

this case was stupid from the beginning; the girls were intentionally provocative, the administration overreacted, and they wasted time and money in court.

beths said...

Yes, the words boobies and ta-tas are stupid, but they are not obscene. Everyone overreacted and missed the teachable moment to discuss vocabulary *in school.* I mean, I think the slang words are stupid because they are juvenile and separate us from our bodies. Breasts are what adolescents and adults have on their bodies, and cancer is what endangers them. It's good to be playful, but essential to grow up.

noel jones said...

i think this is a bit of a "does the end justify the means" debate. i'm interested to know if those that think that the word "boobies" is juvenile are ok with it being used to get people's attention if it leads to a greater awareness of breast cancer issues when explained? the purpose of this campaign was to inspire people to ask about the bracelets, so that the wearer can inform people previously less aware of statistics, etc...

Anonymous said...

At what point does the teacher or administrator saying "no" to a student(s) not violate one's rights? In other words in this case, the school felt the bracelets would be disruptive. The children, parents and ACLU disagreed so it it went to court. Obviously by the outcome rendered by the judge the school staff is incapable of determining what is best for the school as a whole versus pieces or a specific cause.

What if next time the school staff says no to say bracelets or t-shirts that promote only allowing legal citizens to stay in the USA versus illegal aliens such as we have now. Clearly this is a worthy message given the financial drain to taxpayers for illegals to be here not to mention the illegal part, but if permitted to be worn clearly this would have a disruptive impact to the school.

In other words, stealing and modifying a line from a movie (a few good men) when does a student have to obey what teachers and administrators mandate?