Bong Hits 4 Jesus–Explained


In a better world, the phrase “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” would take its place in the library of eternal mysteries alongside “Bye-bye Miss American Pie,” “I Am the Walrus” and “It’s Alright, Ma, I’m Only Bleeding.” Instead, it fell Monday to the Nine Interpreters of the U.S. Supreme Court to deconstruct “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” and decide for the rest of us whether it falls inside the protections of the American Constitution.

Perhaps an explanation is in order.

Morse v. Fredericks, a k a Bong Hits 4 Jesus, is a First Amendment free-speech case. The phrase “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” came to life as a 15-foot banner, which Joseph Fredericks, a senior at the high school in Juneau, Alaska, unfurled directly across from the school entrance as a parade passed by bearing the Olympic torch for the 2002 Olympics. Whereupon, the school’s principal, Deborah Morse, ordered Mr. Fredericks to take down his banner and later suspended him.

Some definitions: As defined by the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, “A bong, also commonly known as a water pipe, is a smoking device, generally used to smoke cannabis [a k a marijuana], but also other substances.” The entry also explains a “hit.” “The user places his/her lips on the mouth piece, forming a seal, and inhales. An inhalation is known as a ‘hit.’ ” (For the still curious, the Wikipedia entry is long and lovingly prepared, with beautiful color photos of bongs and explanations of “bong water” and “health benefits.”)

Principal Morse, who had had other run-ins with Mr. Fredericks, believed his sign was undermining the school system’s anti-drug policy, and so took action. Within months, Mr. Fredericks sued, assisted by the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, claiming violation of his free-speech rights. CONTINUE

March 22, 2007 | Comments Off on Bong Hits 4 Jesus–Explained

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