Young Andrew, soon to have some of us older opinionators looking over our shoulders, wrote a piece that, to put it mildly, took issue with illegal immigrants. The First Amendment Meets a Mob
School Officials Duck and Cover

Summer, like a late island ferry in the Caribbean, come soon, so, after several inevitable graduation or prom conflagrations, we may get a brief respite from writing about some of the trolls and troglodytes to whom the youth of America are entrusted for the purposes of public school education.

Last week in Of Thugs and Thongs, we wrote about the thong-obsessed California high school vice-principal whose approach to public strip searches of students exposed more teen-age flesh than could have conceivably been voluntarily revealed by those so inclined.

This week, still in California, we have Andrew Smith, 18, the opinion editor for the Novato High School Buzz. Young Andrew, soon to have some of us older opinionators looking over our shoulders, wrote a piece that, to put it mildly, took issue with illegal immigrants.

The piece was approved by both the faculty advisor and principal. The piece appeared in print. Then the mob showed up to protest, l50 strong, which is a fair to middling mob for one high school. (Considering the subject matter, that might have provided an excellent photo op for undercover INS operatives, if there were any, but onward.)

At that point, school officials, running from their one-night stand with the First Amendment, started writing letters, holding meetings and confiscating copies of the Buzz still at large, all in an effort to pacify the populace. That is not to mention misrepresenting what Andrew actually wrote, but crowd control will trump accuracy any day of the week.

Andrew and his father then sued, aided by those good folks at the Pacific Legal Foundation, but the judge threw out the case because the school, in an amazing triple somersault with a tummy tuck, now says another piece of Andrew’s–on reverse racism–can be published.

We do not yet know Andrew’s opinions on guns, abortion, world peace or other emotional bell ringers, but headhunters take note: The boy can already draw a crowd.

May 9, 2002
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