Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Where was the ACLU on this one?

Busy fighting for a male high school student's right to wear a skirt to school, the ACLU forgot to step in and help Thomas Sypniewski in his fight with the Warren Hills Regional School District over wearing a Jeff Foxworthy "Redneck" t-shirt to school:
Thomas Sypniewski Jr. was suspended for three days during his senior year in 2001 for wearing a T-shirt that listed blue-collar comedian Jeff Foxworthy's Top 10 reasons someone might be considered a redneck sports fan (Reason No. 4: Your bowling team has its own fight song).

District officials said the T-shirt violated the high school's anti-harassment policy, enforced in the wake of racial incidents in which students referring to themselves as "Hicks" and "Rednecks" harassed black students.

Sypniewski, now 23, dropped his lawsuit against the district last month, saying he was working as a union carpenter and had moved on with his life. He maintained, however, that he wore the shirt simply because he thought it was funny.

Like the case of the boy in the skirt, Sypniewski was victroious in his fight to wear what he wanted to school (even though he agreed to drop the lawsuit).

Unfortunately for Warren Hills, the ACLU didn't give Sypniewski pro bono representation in his free speech lawsuit. Instead, he had private counsel who are owed attorneys' fees of $710,871. Since Sypniewski is considered the "prevailing party," a judge ordered the school district to pay most of those fees -- $574,245. All this for a stupid $5 t-shirt.

But my question is, why was the skirt worth the ACLU's time and money but not the t-shirt? My guess, not many "rednecks" donate to the ACLU.

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