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Feb 19 2013

Dean May Actually Have a Point

Rap metal drummer, tracksuit-clad prayer warrior and weapons grade moron Bradlee Dean, like most wingnuts, loves to strike the martyr pose and claim, falsely, to be oppressed. But if the statements in this article are accurate, he may actually have a case against a school in Florida.

His organization told WND he had been scheduled to speak to the “American Club” at Spanish River High in Boca Raton, Fla., yesterday.

But the announcement said “on the actual day of the speaking event, and with no notice, the principal acted arbitrarily” and ordered Dean out of the building.

The organization statement from Dean spokesman Jake McAuley noted the same student club had invited other conservative speakers recently without incident, including entertainer Victoria Jackson…

According to a letter from Horatia G. Mihet of Liberty Counsel, the school must reverse its ban on Dean.

“The club must be permitted to have guest speakers Bradlee Dean and the Sons of Liberty speak, without the school censoring their message. Bradlee Dean and SOLR are on tour from Michigan, and have other stops scheduled,” the letter dated today said.

“If we do not hear from you … or if your decision is to uphold the principal’s actions in this case, we will proceed with filing a federal court action next week. At that time, we will seek a temporary restraining order against the school district to allow the American Club to host Bradlee Dean and other speakers without unconstitutional censorship by school officials … and will seek damages.”

According to the letter, the conflict developed this way:

“Yesterday, Feb. 13, was the long-scheduled day for the American Club (a student-initiated, student-led club) to host Bradlee Dean as the guest speaker at an after-school meeting of the club, while Sons of Liberty Radio broadcasted the event. This event was properly arranged with the school, which had notified students of its occurrence for three weeks on PA system announcements (and had also been advertised on Facebook). Halfway through the event yesterday, it was shut down by school officials acting at the command of the principal, who cited ‘controversial statements’ and ‘anti-homosexuality’ of the group ‘The Sons of Liberty’ as the rationale …

If all of this is accurate, the school is pretty clearly in the wrong constitutionally. This is not at all like the situation in Iowa a year ago when Dean and his cohorts was invited by the school to put on a mandatory assembly for all students. That is a clearly unconstitutional thing to do. But a student club bringing in a speaker to talk just to that club is entirely different. In those cases, the school cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination under the Equal Access Act and multiple court precedents.

Of course, this is Liberty Counsel we’re talking about and it’s being published in the Worldnutdaily, so I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that they’re leaving out some important information. If they have to file a suit over it, the truth will undoubtedly come out during discovery. But if this is all true, Dean may actually have a valid reason to claim he is being censored unconstitutionally.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    garnetstar

    Is that still the case if Dean would be saying some kind of hate message? I mean, explicitly hateful enough to be discriminatory (or something) to the school’s LGBT students? I don’t know what sort of thing Dean goes around saying, or what actions he advocates, but nothing would surprise me.

    No student is required to attend, of course, but does the fact that a school club is permitted to do that mean that the school is allowing discrimination or harm to some of its students?

    Does a school have the right to not allow speakers on that grounds? If so, how hateful/threatening/violent would such speech have to be?

    I agree that Dean can’t be dis-invited because of his viewpoint, I’m just wondering if there is any legal boundary to that.

  2. 2
    steve84

    People don’t have a universal right to enter schools and just talking about anything they want. Whether a club invited them is irrelevant. That would just be a loophole around the law. A group could contact students, have them form a club (or approach an existing club) and get the club to invite them. That would have absurd results.

  3. 3
    rabbitscribe

    #1 garnetstar: in Illinois, as long as the speech is legal (no terroristic threats, fraudulent claims resulting in material damages, etc.) the school can’t discriminate based on point-of-view.

    #2 steve: you get that this is a private club and only students who choose to attend have to listen, right? If a pastor wants kids in his congregation to form a Bible club and invite him in, that’s fine.

  4. 4
    Alverant

    The real test would be having a different student group invite an Atheist or muslim speaker who promotes their religion (or non religion) in the same style as Dean and see what happens. But I have to agree with garnetstar, some key information is being left out or Dean would be shouting louder.

  5. 5
    garnetstar

    I wasn’t actually thinking that something had been left out (although it probably has!), just in theory.

    So, a school club could invite a KKK speaker who says that “n-gers” are inferior beings, or someone from an SPLC-designated hated group who says that LGBT people should be put behind barbed wire fences until they die out? Just wondering.

    A club at my university once had William Shockley of “Blacks are inherently stupid” fame to speak. He was drowned out during his speech by protestors shouting, which I thought shouldn’t have happened. But, what he was saying was hateful, certainly could be thought to be poisoning the collegiality on campus, or something.

  6. 6
    rabbitscribe

    #5: I’m sorry, we’re not making ourselves clear. The school is not inviting anyone. A private student club is. There’s all the difference in the world, starting with the fact that speakers at school assemblies enjoy a captive audience whereas club attendance is voluntary. In the case of a truly outrageous speaker (and of course “truly outrageous” is in the eye of the beholder) the Klansman in Detroit or atheist is Mississippi might be told, “Your speech is liable to incite violence. Buzz off.” Then the fellow in the fetching black mumu with the little toy hammer gets involved…

  7. 7
    jayhawk

    This does not appear to be completely a “private club” using school property after school. It appears to be a school sponsored extracurricular club. The speech was announced in the school announcements. This means the speakers of all clubs would have to follow school guidelines. Now the school cannot discriminate by viewpoint, but I can easily see that they could ban speech considered offensive and hateful in a school setting. The event may not be school lead, but it is not completely independent and would have to following the rules and policies the school has set for all clubs and speakers.

  8. 8
    steve84

    @rabbitscribe
    It’s a club at a public school using public resources and therefor per definition not private. If you want a private club, then make it truly private. Without any connection to the school.

  9. 9
    Ed Brayton

    The public/private distinction is not relevant to the legal question here. Because there is not a captive audience and it is not the school itself inviting the speaker, if what the speaker says is legal and not obscene (there is an obscenity exception in court precedent for schools that does not exist for other speaking events in the “real world”) then the school can’t discriminate on the basis of content or viewpoint.

  10. 10
    Ace of Sevens

    And the schol was under no obligation to promote the event on their announcements.

  11. 11
    davefitz

    I’m sure I would be much more interested in this story and the merits of Dean’s complaints had my brain been able to get past this bit of hilarity:

    “the same student club had invited other conservative speakers recently without incident, including entertainer Victoria Jackson…”

    Whose idea was THAT?

  12. 12
    rabbitscribe

    #7 Jayhawk: “Now the school cannot discriminate by viewpoint, but I can easily see that they could ban speech considered offensive and hateful in a school setting.”

    Which is to say, they can’t discriminate by viewpoint, but they can do something else which is exactly like viewpoint discrimination. Nope. There is no legal category called “offensive speech” or “hateful speech.”

    #8 Steve: The problem is that the school can’t pick and choose which clubs and activities they’ll tolerate. If they want to end all extra-curricular activities, that’s fine: the playing field is level again. But they can’t let the Future Shit-Shovelers of America invite whatever speaker they want but meddle with the Christian kid’s club. Everybody has to go “truly private,” or nobody does.

    By the way, I’m on your side. I’d love to teach a mandatory Bible class in a Mississippi public school, and in an ideal world, Churches should be compelled to admit me to services equipped with an amplifier and a pre-recorded laugh track. But this is the law as it is, not as I wish it to be.

  13. 13
    dingojack

    OT Alert….OT Alert… OT Alert….

    What would be the legal standing if a student-lead school club invited a member of a designated terrorist organisation to speak? Would the state be justified in sending in a SWAT team? Would the school lose funding for aiding terrorism? .
    Could a student-lead club invite a speaker to lecture on practical bomb-making or how to cook up amphetamines in your garden shed or the best techniques for hunting and killing police personnel?
    It is a (semi) private club after all so the school can not discriminate….

    Dingo

  14. 14
    Pierce R. Butler

    Anybody wanna watch a video of BD giving his “banned” talk on a nearby riverbank?

    Okay, okay, don’t clamor!

    Does anyone showing that much of a belly have any moral right to make a personal trademark of wearing a running suit?

  15. 15
    rabbitscribe

    What would be the legal standing if a student-lead school club invited a member of a designated terrorist organisation to speak?

    The legal system has nothing to say about the conduct of wars.

    Would the state be justified in sending in a SWAT team?

    Nope, that would warrant a military response.

    Would the school lose funding for aiding terrorism?

    IMO no.

    Could a student-lead club invite a speaker to lecture on practical bomb-making or how to cook up amphetamines in your garden shed or the best techniques for hunting and killing police personnel?

    Not all speech is legal. You can’t suborn perjury, solicit murder, defraud people, etc. under the blanket of the First Amendment. If such an invitation were extended, no doubt the school would put the kibosh on it. If the student group then sued, my hunch is any attorney could put together a somewhat reasonable argument that all that stuff goes to far, and the vast majority of judges would buy it.

  16. 16
    dingojack

    Rabbitscribe – “The legal system has nothing to say about the conduct of wars.”
    You really haven’t been keeping up with current events, have you?

    Dingo
    ——–
    PS: “all that stuff goes to far”
    Where is this ‘far’ place of which you speak ;)

  17. 17
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    I don’t see how it’s “viewpoint discrimination” to prevent the dissemination of certain ideas that advocate, encourage, and even cause actual physical and mental harm to (and the marginalization and demonizing of) certain minority groups, especially when there is a long history of those specific ideas being used to justify and excuse crimes specifically targeting those minority groups.

    Bradlee Dean’s promotion of hate and violence has been rightfully stopped.

  18. 18
    dogmeat

    Which is to say, they can’t discriminate by viewpoint, but they can do something else which is exactly like viewpoint discrimination. Nope. There is no legal category called “offensive speech” or “hateful speech.”

    Actually rabbitscribe, I would say that it’s a bit more complicated than that. I haven’t been able to find anything regarding the content of the speech that Dean was scheduled to give, but if that content was in direct conflict with the policies of the school, they could have a legal precedent for closing the forum. Closest parallel off the top of my head would likely be the “bonghits for Jesus” case. Ed also mentioned the exception for pornography. I don’t know that there is a precedent for bullying or promotion of bullying, but given the recent shootings, I could see an administrator being quite concerned if the content of the speech were to promote activities that could put students in danger, etc. I don’t know that this is the case, I don’t know that the administrator isn’t a well intended idiot, etc., but I’d say that it isn’t quite as black-and-white as it first appears.

    Our school district has a bullying policy (most have adopted similar policies in the last few years). If a speaker were to present the argument that, for example, gays needed to be “aggressively convinced to stop their sinful ways,” it could run afoul of such a policy. Again, I have no idea if this is the case, and I don’t know of any precedent one way or the other, but I could see the court ruling either way because it is a significant recent topic regarding child safety.

  19. 19
    jayhawk

    rabbitscribe

    “Which is to say, they can’t discriminate by viewpoint, but they can do something else which is exactly like viewpoint discrimination. Nope. There is no legal category called “offensive speech” or “hateful speech.”

    Dogmeat handled this well, but I just want to emphasize, regulating speech, i.e. rules and procedures, is not the same as viewpoint discrimination. Examples in a school setting such as rules barring degrading speech towards groups of people based on race, creed, color, religion . . . or barring encouraging violence, or soliciting funds are not examples of viewpoint discrimination. They are rules that every speaker hasto follow and if they do not, or did not agree to, could be asked to leave the building.

    Again, these are not indepentend clubs. These are school related functions and not free public forums, but limited public forums. Hopefully the rules are established in writing in advance. Now, I am the first one on the phone to the ACLU if the rules are suddenly established AFTER the speaker is invited. Then the school is going to have some explaining to do.

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