Whitehead laments legal end to speech

annualmanual-whiteheadOn November 16, the Supreme Court decided to let stand an appeals court ruling that allowed the administration of a Nevada high school to cut off the microphone–- mid-speech–- of a student who tried to talk about religion in her high school valedictory.
"This is a sad day for the cause of freedom," said John W. Whitehead, director of the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute, which fought for the rights of student Brittany McComb.


Shaggy, not sure what you're talking about--I didn't say the school committed a crime---they displayed intolerance. Also, my point in citing the cases was not that they were all overturned--it was to make the point that the court does not always get it right---just because the court made the decision it did does not make it correct. Sorry for the confusion.

Regardless whether you're a devout Christian, Atheist, or anything else, it was absurd not to let her finish. As a Christian, although I disagree with the view of an Atheist I wouldn't want one to be precluded from making a reference to it in a public forum if they chose to.

I recommend a great book for everyone....Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee by Nat Hentoff, former writer for the Village Voice. It details how the left and right both try to censor each other.

"Why do people, when confronted with the likely reality that god doesn’t exist, start hurling insults as scrumpilious does?"

What insults are you referring to?

....also "likely reality" is a lot different from "scientific impossibility"

Perhaps if atheists stepped back a little and orthodox anybodies stepped back a bit then all of this bickering could go by the wayside.

Who said anything about Global Warming? I must have missed THAT part.

she's free to say what she wants. she's not free to use the school's PA system. The school is free to turn off the microphone.

She DOES represent the school if she stands in front of the audience and speaks at a school sponsored event. She is proselytizing.

These bible thumpers should save it for Sunday school. I don't want my kid to be forced to hear this garbage.

The sad part is that had she wanted to give thanks to atheist beliefs it would probably have been fine. (even though atheism is really just the belief that everyones opinion but theirs about how we got here is wrong) (hmmmm isn't that the pot calling the kettle african american?)

re:"even though atheism is really just the belief that everyones opinion but theirs about how we got here is wrong"

Wow is this an incorrect statement or what? Factually and grammatically just a big bag of incorrectness.

Atheism means the belief in the truth that there is no god. Sorry to burst your little pity pot.

Kitty, belief in god is based on as much fact and truth as the belief in santa claus. Unless you can establish some factual basis for the existence of something, I think you need to concede that that thing does not exist. Therefore the truth is that god does not exist.

Publius, what crime did the school commit? This is laughable. What precedent would you rely upon to state that this decision would be overturned at some point?

And by the way, Dred Scott was never overturned. Please get your facts straight.

ATHEISM: The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magiacally exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.

Makes perfect sense... a whole lot more logical than thinking that there may be a creator out there in outer space somewhere and we are just not intelligent enought to comprehend it despite all of our scientific knowledge. (you know the same knowledge that thought the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth.)

It has been my personal experience that the two most closeminded personalities in the world are those who believe every word of the their religion and atheists.

"...if the student speaker believed in ritual sacrifice and was about to decapitate a chicken at the podium of her state high school graduation ceremony in honor of her God." If this speaker had done more than talk about her relationship with her God, you might be able to draw such a parallel, but I must have missed the sacrifice part. It's funny how some people are threatened by a religious belief that preaches love and service, and applaud censoring those who wish to express it, but are the first to proclaim the new religion of global warming, and attack those who don't believe.
At least the original Joe Friday got the facts.

This shows how crazy we have become. When they granted her the time it was for her to give credit to all of the things that SHE felt lesd her to this point. If it was religion so be it. She was not representing anyone but herself.

I believe that Earth had a creator. Since I cannot create an earth myself I therefore believe that that creator is far superior to me.
Some might say that that creator is therefore a "god" in that he/she may still be out there somewhere and can destroy the earth as fast as it was created.

No one can disprove this theory. That does not mean that my god doesn't have another god above him/her or that my god was not created by dust.

Scientists that say we were created from dust offer no explanation for the source of the dust.

Should have heard Richard Dreyfuss today --get over it --we went to war on a lie --do you care ? If you spend your life fighting about whether the pledge of allegiance should contain the word God or whether someone should mention God in high school you may have missed the fact that far more important civil liberties have been taken away and all the time you were focused on one word.

I wonder if Whitehead would be as upset if instead of Christianity the student speaker believed in ritual sacrifice and was about to decapitate a chicken at the podium of her state high school graduation ceremony in honor of her God.

She doesn't represent the school, she represents herself, and the purpose of her speech is to shed light on her journey to the top. This is supposed to be inspiring to those who may wish to choose a similar path. If she feels that her belief in Jesus, witchcraft, sacrificing chickens or weekend keg parties got her there than she should be able to say it as long as she does not defame anyone.

Political correctness has gone too far.

This is not the state sanctioning religion unless they picked her BECAUSE she was a christian/jew/buddist whatever.

There are people paid to be knowledgeable of the text and application of the Constitution of the United States. They are known as judges. The judges in this case on the Supreme Court of the United States (that would include judges thomas, scalia, roberts, alito, etc, etc, etc), believed that the school was within its right to cut her mic. Case closed, as they say.

It doesn't matter what you think is "supposed" to happen. What matters is whether or not the school was legally correct. They were. They probably would have been correct to let her speak, but they didn't. Tough cookies. Let that be a lesson to her on her continuing journey to "the top".

If anyone questions how objective John Whitehead and the Rutherford Institute are, I suggest you look at its website and see the cases they have handled. They represent the rights of a wide range of religions, not just Christianity.

The school was absolutely incorrect in its position. Just because the court upheld it does not make it correct---it simply resolves the dispute for now. In its past, the Supreme Court has held that separate was equal (Plessy v. Ferguson), that insurance was not interstate commerce (Paul v. Virginia), and that not all U.S. Citizens were entitled to full rights (Dred Scott). Were all of these prior decision correct? Of course not. They (and many others) were later overturned.

The school, supposedly a place where children learn, demonstrates amazing intolerance.


Atheism means the belief that there is no God. That may or may not be the truth.

why does the dust have to come from somewhere but the creator doesn't? How does that make sense?

Maybe matter itself is eternal. I mean, unless it's converted into energy, matter continues to exist. Why do humans have a need to believe that it came from somewhere?

Why do people, when confronted with the likely reality that god doesn't exist, start hurling insults as scrumpilious does?

Scientists can't explain exactly how the universe is created so therefore other humans that aren't scientists must be right when they invent a god that creates it?

Very odd arguments in support of the existence of god in these comments.