Violence Avoision

Volokh, in a discussion of a court case holding that a high school student could not be prohibited from wearing a "T-shirt [which] depicted the Marine seal and a large picture of an M16 rifle (the standard weapon of the Marines)" and contained the Marine creed in full, says, "Seems to me that the court got it right, and that the school officials got it wrong. And they got it wrong because they made a basic error that's unfortunately far too common: They confused violence with wrongful violence." I think Volokh is right on the merits of the case, but wrong about the reasoning he attributes to the school officials. This is pure speculation, but since I'm only arguing against other speculation, I don't think that really hurts my position. It seems to me that it's far more likely that the school officials are perfectly capable of differentiating between violence and wrongful violence, but believe that their students are not going to be able to draw that line, or will draw it incorrectly. I would then contend that they need some actual evidence that wearing t-shirts like this one has, in their particular school, in fact lead to violence or come very close to it. Otherwise, their vague concern shouldn't trump the student's expressive rights, and they shouldn't be able to prohibit such shirts. But it does seem like the officials have a more tenable position then the one Volokh ascribes to them.

In fact, given that Volokh has just written an article on crime-facilitating speech and other related issues, I'm surprised he didn't move his analysis to that level, discussing what the officials should do if they really think the shirt will lead to crime.