More speech suppression: From the Tampa Tribune

More speech suppression: From the Tampa Tribune. More speech suppression: From the Tampa Tribune : After moving to Florida from Pennsylvania this summer, [Krista] Abram, 16, spent her first few days attending Tarpon Springs High School bewildered by her peers' and teachers' ambivalence to the daily sight of Confederate battle flag images at the school's north Pinellas County campus.  Abram saw dozens of students wearing shirts, hats, belt buckles and more adorned with the Confederate battle flag. Then there were stickers on book covers, car bumpers and lockers — all with the flag, some with hurtful slogans.  One of the worst is: “If I had known this, I would have picked my own cotton,'' she said.  Her father is black, her mother white. . . .
[Abram] wrote a critical flier, made a sheaf of copies and began circulating them in school this month denouncing the use of the Confederate emblem.  On Tuesday, she passed around a petition urging that the rebel flag be banned from the campus, and garnered 94 signatures.
After school, she was suspended for 10 days — for distributing unauthorized material on school grounds.
Student petitions and fliers require approval of the school's administration, which Abram did not obtain. Administrators declined to comment. . . .  Ron Stone, spokesman for Pinellas County schools, said the circulation of the flier led to the suspension. “The principal was not aware of the petition, only the flier, which was becoming disruptive,'' he said. . . .      I'd like to know exactly how this was becoming “disruptive.” Under the leading Supreme Court precedent in this area — Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. School. Dist — schools can restrict speech when it seems likely to be disruptive, but it really has to be disruptive, just not offensive to some people.
     But even if this caused some disruption, or, even in the absence of disruption, if the school has a genuinely content-neutral, even-handedly applied restriction on distributing unauthorized material (something it might be able to do in its capacity as property owner), is 10 days' suspension really a sensible punishment for the awful crime of distributing fliers and petitions without authorization?
     Thanks to reader Brett Verona for the pointer.  [The Volokh Conspiracy]

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