• “So when does basketball season start?”

    Date: 12.16.11 | by Judge Tom.

    Alejandro Teran is a cartoonist for the Bernalillo High School newspaper The Basement. In November, 2011, he submitted a drawing about the high school’s football team and its poor performance this season (3 wins and 7 losses). The student’s cartoon depicts two female students watching a Bernalillo football player getting tackled. One says to the other “So when does basketball season start?”

    The school principal kept the cartoon from running in the paper. He explained that it offended the paper’s mission by downgrading students and putting students against each other. Alejandro responded that he “wasn’t trying to point out anything that wasn’t already known. You go around the school and hear left and right that our football team is not doing well. I mean, it wasn’t a secret.”

    Alejandro showed the cartoon to administrators before he submitted it. He also ran it by some of his friends who were on the football team and didn’t receive any negative responses. Once word got out that the cartoon was censored, students were surprised by the school’s action more than the content of the cartoon itself.

    Part of Alejandro's cartoon

    The school turned the incident into a learning experience by hosting a debate on the subject of free speech. The three-judge panel came down on the student’s side but this didn’t change the principal’s position. The school doesn’t have a publications policy at the moment and may consider adopting one in the future. The Student Press Law Center has submitted a model student media policy for their consideration.

    Read more about this subject and the states that have student free expression laws.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    • Tulsa Divorce Lawyers
      Tue, 20 Dec 2011 at 04:13

      I can see the school principal’s point – he wants the publication to be ‘up lifting’ and have a ‘positive effect’ on the student body.