Fear of free speech

In southern California, 18-year-old Joshua Denhalter is finishing his last week of school by suing his school district, which denied his request to hold a rally opposing illegal immigration and suspended him for handing out fliers about an off-campus rally. The LA Times reports:

When a school assembly in Mira Loma turned into a virtual rally supporting illegal immigrants, a frustrated Joshua Denhalter asked permission to hold his own demonstration.

The Jurupa Valley High School senior carefully typed up an agenda with speakers and topics to be covered and gave it to school officials. They denied his request, citing fears that a protest could lead to violence.

Annoyed yet undeterred, 18-year-old Denhalter tried to organize an off-campus rally in March but was suspended for three days for handing out fliers about it on school property. He was also told he couldn’t wear a T-shirt with anti-illegal immigrant slogan emblazoned on the front.

Denhalter, who is joining the Marine Corps and hopes for a career in law enforcement, filed suit asking for an apology and removal of the suspension from his record.

The school forum was organized by MEChA, a Latino student club that strongly supports the rights of illegal immigrants.

I think Denhalter may lose on the T-shirt slogan, which arguably was inflammatory, and win on the fliers, which surely come under free-speech protections.

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  1. Wayne Martin says:

    > I think Denhalter may lose on the T-shirt
    > slogan, which arguably was inflammatory ..

    And why is it inflammatory to support legal immigration and be opposed to illegal immigration?

  2. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    The shirt said:
    “Illegal Aliens, We Don’t Want You.”
    Surely that qualifies as political speech and is protected? There is no hate in the statement and it is very specific so that legal aliens and immigrant are not included. The school has ventured into indoctrination. Their viewpoint discrimination is not acceptable and I am glad that the young man has is standing up for the constitution.

    For those who read the comments frequently and know that I generally very supportive of the school administration I will note that I am generally supportive of the administration’s right to curtail free speech as long as it is consistently applied.

  3. Wayne Martin says:

    Today’s update on this suit:


    MIRA LOMA – A Jurupa Valley High School senior was denied his court request to wear an anti-illegal immigration T-shirt to school in Riverside County Superior Court on Wednesday.


    Tim Liebaert, one of Denhalter’s attorneys, said Judge Thomas Cahraman denied the request because of the lack of time available to view Denhalter’s and the Jurupa Unified School District’s arguments adequately.

    While this student has failed to get to first base on the issues of “protected free speech”, the Judge did not rule against him on the arguments of the School District, which didn’t seem to get too much attention in these news reports.

    > Elliott Duchon, Jurupa District superintendent,
    > said Denhalter wasn’t suspended for expressing
    > himself, but because he refused to stop passing
    > out fliers encouraging students to leave campus
    > for a demonstration during school hours.

    It’s interesting that only a few school districts went so far as to suspend students (or teachers) who encourage leaving campus to support illegal immigration.

  4. MEChA is one of the most virulently racist organizations in the country. Read their founding documents, El Plan de Santa Barbara for starters. They openly advocate the retaking of Aztlan (a fictional realm that includes the southwestern US) and their motto, translated into English, is “For the race, everything. Outside the race, nothing.”

    I wonder why these proud Aztecs use so much of the conqueror’s language (Spanish) in their documents, though….