Don't Worry, Be Happy
By Amanda Dickman in News on Apr 18, 2007 8:45PM
Last month we told you about Heidi Zamecnik, the Naperville high-schooler who donned the "Be Happy, Not Gay" t-shirt at school in protest of homosexuality.
Well, today is the 11th annual Day of Silence, and Zamecnik (along with fellow student Alexander Nuxoll) were planning to wear the same shirts again tomorrow. That is, they were until a judge ruled yesterday in favor of the school, forbidding them to do so.
Zamecnik is being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian group that believes that the school is violating her freedom of speech by not allowing the shirt in school. Jack Canna, an attorney for the school district, states that banning the shirt is in line with the school's policy to "preserve the notion that kids shouldn't make negative or derogatory comments about other students."
Once again, it's a slippery slope. Besides your cases of libel, slander and yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded room, is it ever appropriate to curb someone's freedom of expression? If you don't agree with someone else, can you forbid them to express their opinion? Of course not, that's what the first amendment is all about.
While on the one hand we're screaming, "Yeah! Freedom of speech! Say what you want!," on the other, we're thinking, "hmm, that's a really shitty thing to say." Whether we agree with Zamecnik or not, she does have a right to express her opinion, however derogatory it may be. Come to think of it, maybe the t-shirt isn't so bad. At the very least, it lets the rest of us know where she stands; that way we can choose to stand in a different room.
Image via josephp.