Chickenhawks lose out to free speech

Chickenhawk – (slang) someone who avoids going to war or fighting in his lifetime, but still advocates that war is necessary.

There was a significant victory for free speech in the US recently. Zachary Guiles, from Vermont, had a t-shirt that depicted George W Bush as a Chickenhawk and an alcohol and cocaine abuser. The t-shirt had a picture of the president’s face superimposed on the body of a chicken and the words “George W. Bush” and “Chicken-Hawk-In-Chief”. It also bore images of lines of cocaine, a martini glass and small print saying things such as “Crook”, “Cocaine Addict”, “AWOL”, “Draft Dodger” and “Lying Drunk Driver”.

Zachary wore the t-shirt to school once a week for two months. However, he was forced to censor it and had to endure a suspension from school after only one complaint from a student and parent with differing political views. Zachary opposed the school’s censorship decision, claiming that it was an infringement of his rights to free speech. A lower court upheld the school’s position, but in an appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Zachary was successful in getting the lower court’s decision overturned.

The decision of the Appeals Court is really nothing more than common sense. They concluded that the T-shirt “uses harsh rhetoric and imagery to express disagreement with the president’s policies and to impugn his character” but that the images and message “are not plainly offensive as a matter of law.”

“We conclude that the defendants’ censorship of the images on Guiles’s T-shirt violated his free speech rights… Guiles’s T-shirt did not cause any disruption or confrontation in the school.”

Interestingly, further demonstrating the power and diversity of words, I did a few searches for the expression ‘Chickenhawk’, used in the context described above. It was quite hard to find one. However, by far the most common definition of the word, other than to describe the actual bird, is this one:

A Gay term for an older man that constantly chases after younger men.

Apparently there’s also a heterosexual female equivalent, which is ‘Cougar’.

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