Merry Christmas

Recognizing what are the important issues of the day, the State House passed the “Merry Christmas” bill yesterday 136-25.

We all discussed this stupid bill awhile back.   Back then I brought up the point that the bill only protected speech about legal holidays and would exclude speech about holidays that were not state legal holidays.  Many of you thought I was wrong or crazy.  Well, it appears that I was right, because the bill was changed in committee. 

The original version protected speech “relating to the celebration or observance of any public or legal holiday, as provided in Code Section 1-4-1.”

The amended version which passed yesterday protects students and employees of public schools “in their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression, including, but not limited to, verbal expressions relating to the celebration or observance of any public or legal holiday, as provided in Code Section 1-4-1.”

So the bill opens up protection in public schools for teachers and students now for any constutionally protected speech.

Rep. Bordeaux brought up a good point that the legislation would allow for a student to wear a t-shirt denying the Holocaust.  Rep. Mangham said that the bill would not protect a student or teacher who uses a racial slur the classroom. 

And they are correct.

Silly Republicans.  Don’t you realize that legislation has unintended consequences?  Dump this stupid bill before it goes any further.

9 comments

  1. Rusty says:

    I wish they would follow Bush’s lead and start talking about shedding the USA’s oil dependancy and getting students interested in math and science. I guess that would make too much sense though.

  2. Harry says:

    Why shouldn’t a teacher or student be able to say “Merry Christmas”, or refer to whatever they believe?

  3. Decaturguy says:

    Nobody, Harry, believes that they shouldn’t be able to say that. That is the point of my post.

    But by trying to solve a problem that does not exist, the legislature has created a law that would protect a student’s speech if they wear a t-shirt to school saying “I HATE JESUS.” I hope you like that, because that is what the legislature is doing with this bill.

  4. kspencer says:

    Actually, my parsing of the bill comes down to:
    “The people at school have the right to free speech except where that speech is disruptive or invasive – and by the way this includes speech about holidays.”

    In other words, essentially a re-affirmation of existing law. What a waste.

    Kirk

  5. memberg says:

    You sort of missed Bordeaux’s main point, which is that the bill seeks to make unlawful restrictions on expression, well, unlawful.

    In that vein, the “unintended consequences” you worry about aren’t really consequences – they’re the status quo.

    As for me, I just try to be extra-careful around holiday time. I don’t replace the Christ in Christmas with just one X; I use 3.

  6. Decaturguy says:

    Yes, constitutional protections are constitutional protections. However, the Courts have limited constitutional protections for teachers and students in the public school context.

    But if this law is passed, would the legislature be giving, under state law, the same constitutional protections that teachers and students would have in other contexts (say standing out on a street protesting) for speech in Georgia public schools?

    The bill says a school shall not “adopt or implement any policy which would unlawfully impair, restrict, or prohibit a public employee or public school student from engaging in their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression.”

    A state can provide more rights to students and teachers that the Constitution provides. So the question remains, does this bill provide students and teachers extra-constitutional rights in the schools that would allow for the outrageous speech that I mentioned?

  7. memberg says:

    If only Roy had written in some language to the Georgia Constitution that addresses Decaturguy’s remaining question. But wait…

    “[T]he right of freedom of religion shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.” (Art. I, Sect. I, Para. IV)

    “Every person may speak, write, and publish sentiments on all subjects but shall be responsible for the abuse of that liberty.” (Art. I, Sect. I, Para. V)

Comments are closed.