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Law Firm Argues Wisconsin High School Student Has Right to Publish Article Saying Gays Should Be Put to Death: VIDEO

Wegner

Over the weekend, Brandon posted about a high school student newspaper controversy in Wisconsin. The newspaper had published a point - counterpoint opinion piece (you can read it HERE) on gay adoption that had offended the gay parents of a student at the school because the article arguing against gay adoption, written by a student named Brandon Wegner, cited lines from Leviticus which call for gays to be put to death.

ShawanoThe Shawano School District pulled the piece, and not the right-wing Christian conservative law firm Liberty Counsel is involved, WSAW reports:

Now an attorney with the Liberty Counsel, a non-profit law firm specializing in first amendment rights, is representing Wegner. Harry Mihet says Wegner's first amendment rights have been outrageously violated....Mihet says whether you agree with gay adoption or not is irrelevant.

"He did nothing more than to express his opinion on a particular topic, an opinion in which with some are free to agree and some to disagree but an opinion which is absolutely protected with the first amendment of the Constitution" Mihet said.

Mihet alleges the school district superintendent, Todd Carlson, pulled Wegner out of class and made him feel ashamed for his piece. "The superintendent told him that he had violated the school's bullying policy," Mihet said. "The superintendent also told him he was ignorant and all kinds of demeaning names."

Watch WSAW's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Liberty Counsel is demanding the school district apologize and tell students that they have a first amendment right to express their opinions. Liberty Counsel says it will sue if they don't comply.

Other conservatives are chiming in. Rod Dreher at The American Conservative is outraged:

Unbelievable. Granted, Wegner’s editorial is a thoroughly lame piece of rhetoric, but remember, he was asked by a teacher to take the opposing side of a controversial public issue. For this, the kid gets punished? And not only punished, but his exercise of free speech in a school paper op-ed is “bullying”?!

I hope he sues the knotted knickers off that superintendent and the school district. This is blatantly unconstitutional. Legality aside, the idea that the formal expression of an opinion that annoys a favored class is a form of violent harassment is offensive and dangerous.

Watch WSAW's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. As wrong and ignorant as the little sh*t was, he was merely quoting the Bible, in all its wrongness. I don't think it's really fair to punish him for that. But it might be good to get him some accurate information about gay adoption. He's young yet, maybe there's still time to save him from the religious brainwashing of his upbringing.

    Posted by: Josh | Jan 26, 2012 8:09:38 AM


  2. Ok

    allow it BUT arrest the kid and the Liberty Law firm then for incitement

    Your free to say it but your inciting murder, so lock them up for that

    "...direct incitement or by approving or supporting another crime committed in the past.."

    & most penal codes have "..Who, in a public meting, through the media, by spreading of a writing or by any other means of technical reproduction leads or incites to the practice of a definitive crime will be punished with imprisonment for a term up to 3 years or by fine, if any more serious penalty cannot be declared by imposition of any other legal legislation,..."

    Posted by: say what | Jan 26, 2012 8:11:39 AM


  3. Um - the article lead to nothing, nor did it incite anything - therefore your point is moot.

    Free speech for all - period - not just the things of which we approve.

    Posted by: yuninv | Jan 26, 2012 8:15:24 AM


  4. Where were the teachers and staff *before* the paper was published? How did this piece even get through?

    It's factually inaccurate. It cites irrelevant information.

    Punishing the student seems excessive, since there was no opportunity for his mistakes to be corrected proactively.

    Posted by: Dave | Jan 26, 2012 8:16:13 AM


  5. What if this were an article arguing that Jews are parasites who killed Jesus and are unfit to live, quoting Adolf Hitler?

    What if this were an article denouncing black people as an inherently inferior race of people who are unintelligent and lazy and belong in forced servitude?

    Would we still be arguing that the kid is entitled to his opinion? Or would we say that these are offensive and inflammatory statements that have no place in civil discourse?

    What if it were an article attacking the Pope and the Catholic Church for their anti-woman, homophobic, pro-pedophile actions and positions? Would Liberty Council still rush to its defense as free speech?

    Posted by: John Equality | Jan 26, 2012 8:21:34 AM


  6. yuminiv

    incitement is not based on success or non success of said incitement

    incitement is incitement whatever the results


    Posted by: say what | Jan 26, 2012 8:25:51 AM


  7. I have to agree with the conservative thinkers and the legal counsel who stepped in. The kid was asked to provide opposing opinion on the issue and should never have been punished/chastised/rebuked. We cannot argue for our free speech rights (as homosexuals) and then expect others to clam up. It irritates me to no end when people like Tony Perkins, Ann Coulter, Brian Brown and the like, say inciteful and hateful things, but I always remember that they are increasingly on the losing side of history. Let's hope this kid learns something about tolerance and love form this experience.

    Posted by: Brad | Jan 26, 2012 8:28:43 AM


  8. The ignorant homophobe has ever right to spew his bigoted garbage... and the public has every right to condemn him for it. So I agree that he shouldn't have been punished for writing the article. It would have been better all around if each student has included a rebuttal to their opponent's article. Then the situation would have been self-contained.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Jan 26, 2012 8:45:32 AM


  9. I agree, he's just quoting the bible, in all it's glorious bigotry and hatred. The problem is that damned book, not the kid.

    Posted by: chad | Jan 26, 2012 8:49:30 AM


  10. Well, what if any kid used other quotes, especially one condoning the stoning to death of women for adultery or children for insolence? Hetero polygamy is also condoned in the old testament. I'd love to see another kid draw attention to that and see where it goes.

    Posted by: Robert in NYC | Jan 26, 2012 8:51:33 AM


  11. Interesting how Liberty Counsel is MIA when people are complaining about school-sponsored prayers and the Gideons passing out Bibles to fifth-graders.

    Nor surprising -- just interesting.

    Posted by: Hunter | Jan 26, 2012 8:55:06 AM


  12. Wow.

    You folks should read the original story and look at the facts.

    There were no serious sanctions, and the piece WAS published. They just decided not to republish it. The REAL harm was done to any children of gay and lesbian parents in the school, including the boy who initially brought it home to his gay dads.

    It was totally inappropriate to have this discussed in the school paper, and the school realized that after the first complaint.

    Oh, and Liberty Counsel is NOT a "law firm specializing in first amendment rights," it's a firm that specializes in fighting gay rights wherever it thinks it can, usually on religious liberty grounds. They're the ones who fought to take the kids away from the lesbian mom in VT.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jan 26, 2012 9:06:34 AM


  13. Wow.

    You folks should read the original story and look at the facts.

    There were no serious sanctions, and the piece WAS published. They just decided not to republish it. The REAL harm was done to any children of gay and lesbian parents in the school, including the boy who initially brought it home to his gay dads.

    It was totally inappropriate to have this discussed in the school paper, and the school realized that after the first complaint.

    Oh, and Liberty Counsel is NOT a "law firm specializing in first amendment rights," it's a firm that specializes in fighting gay rights wherever it thinks it can, usually on religious liberty grounds. They're the ones who fought to take the kids away from the lesbian mom in VT.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jan 26, 2012 9:06:34 AM


  14. Not the issue here but, since a couple of commenters have already said "he was just/merely quoting the Bible", I'd like to point out that Jesus doesn't in fact say anything about homosexuality, contrary to what 'Brandon' wrote in his opinion piece. Leviticus is in the Old Testament and is frequently cited by those wishing to find justification for their prejudice, but they always seem to gloss over the other 'sins' that Leviticus rails against, many of which they themselves commit unknowingly. Correction, ignorantly

    Posted by: greg | Jan 26, 2012 9:07:20 AM


  15. I don't think most of you understand, what bothers me most about the article was:
    "...because our government is generally based off of religion and the bible."
    What are the teachers in Wisconsin teaching these kids? This high school student seems to have no concept for the basis of the founding of our country. This is what we should be fighting, ignorance over basic American History. When people have this belief of the founding of our country, then how can they even understand the concept of civil rights? Our country was founded on escaping the oppressive Monarchy in pursuit of freedom of relgion and speech. If people think we were formed as a theocratic republic, then of course they are going to fight to make all laws biblical.
    This is a problem of ignorance, not bigotry. The poor kid doesn't know any better because of his theocratic brainwashing.
    Regardless he was not shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre, there is no reason to censure him, maybe some education would help. His comments are mild compared to some we read here daily.
    However, is the subject appropriate for a high school newspaper? Where was the faculty editor/advisor? Probably smoking a cigarette and reading his bible in the teachers lounge...

    Posted by: Jeff B. | Jan 26, 2012 9:13:44 AM


  16. He advocated the death of a group of people for nothing other than sexual orientation, hie is an ignorant little bugger that is probably parroting a lot of what he'd heard and taught to believe

    Posted by: Terry | Jan 26, 2012 9:19:17 AM


  17. Where was the editor? Quoting the Bible is probably not going to get anyone thrown in jail.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 26, 2012 9:20:52 AM


  18. If there is a such a thing as hate speech, that point-counterpoint is it. It says that the USA is a Christian nation. It says that gay people shall surely be put to death (quoting the same verse from two different versions of the Bible, plus a related verse). It assumes that all homosexuals are male.

    A high school is not a university. The students are not adults. The opinion piece is totally inappropriate.

    Also, may I comment on the pathetic counterpoint, which all but admits that gay people are icky and seems to almost apologize for recommending gay people be allowed to adopt.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 26, 2012 9:21:08 AM


  19. Some countries prosecute people for handing out literature which calls for the death of homosexuals. However, in America, "death to homosexuals" is put out by out public school system and handed out to grade schoolers...

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 26, 2012 9:30:06 AM


  20. 1. Jesus himself never said that about homosexuals.
    2. Our government is NOT generally based on the Bible/Christianity.

    The article should not have been published as written because it is inaccurate, even within the realm of Christianity.

    Posted by: Chadd | Jan 26, 2012 9:33:17 AM


  21. As loathsome as the little brat's opinion is, he is entitled to that opinion. And his opinion, in this particular instance, is double protected by the First Amendment - his opinion is formed by his religious belief and he has the absolute right to freedom of speech.

    The school could (and possibly, should) have done more to disclaim his opinion. You know, that old standard: "The opinion reflected her is that of the author, only, and not that of (the newspaper), the editorial staff of the paper, the publisher... etc...

    Posted by: Eric Payne | Jan 26, 2012 9:40:17 AM


  22. Incidentally, he's wrong on many levels. Where in the Bible does Jesus say that homosexuality is wrong? Our government is not "based" on religion... religious freedom, yes, but seperation of Church and State. So if a third of people don't believe in gays being allowed to adopt, doesn't that mean that 2/3 of people think gays SHOULD be able to adopt, and isn't that a MAJORITY? If a minority should be allowed to call the shots, then shouldn't Prop 8 be overturned, because a MINORITY of the popular vote was FOR equal marriage? The holes in his article are huge... maybe aside from quoting Leviticus, he should have spent some more time thinking of some even remotely valid agurements. Oh, right... there aren't any.

    Posted by: graphicjack | Jan 26, 2012 9:42:12 AM


  23. @ greg & Chad

    You are wrong

    Jeebus had these words ascribed to the myth

    Mathew 5:17,18,19

    "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place."“For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    Luke 16:17

    "It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid."

    -----------------------------

    Since earth and the heavens are still around... unless the earth exploded and all the stars have burned out without my noticing........myth jeebus did in fact uphold every last nasty bit of the Mosaic law which in fact does condemn us. It also demands the death penalty for eating shrimp

    Instead of trying to reconcile your homosexuality with barbaric myths, it is more logical to just relegate said myths to where they belong = the myth sections of libraries along with stories of ra, odin, thor, zeus etc

    Posted by: say what | Jan 26, 2012 9:44:33 AM


  24. TAX THE CHURCH!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jan 26, 2012 9:49:43 AM


  25. No one has the right to incite hatred against a minority and call for their deaths.

    This law firm should be hearing from you all.

    Posted by: yonkerconquers | Jan 26, 2012 9:55:54 AM


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