Reprinted without permission from the San Jose Mercury News, Friday, October 4, 1991, page
Reprinted without permission from the San Jose Mercury News, Friday,
October 4, 1991, page B-1.
Libertarian, 12, irks the brass
7th grader's drug war views negatively recieved at school
by David Bank
When 12-year ols Allen Hoffman, Jr took some newspaper articles with
an unconventional viewpoint on the war on drugs to Crittenden Middle
School in Mountain View this week, Vice-Principal Len Jacques just
The precocious seventh grader was pulled out of class, brought to
Jacques' office forced to hand over the articles and tols not to
bring the material onto school grounds again.
Set the limits
"I told him, 'Anything that alludes to political statements that you
believe in, or your dad believes in, you can't profess to other
kids, "Jacques said in an interview.The articles included a column
in the Mercury News written by former San Jose Police Chief Joseph
McNamara that concluded that the war on drugs is being lost, and
reprints from the Pittsburg Press that detailed abuses of police
powers in the seizure of assets from suspected drug dealers.
"If I were old enough to vote, I'd vote Libertarian, "said the
blond-haired Allen, who articulately explained his political views
while sipping a Coke outside his family's Rengsdorff Avenue
Allen said he has been raising questions about the accuracy of the
school's anti-drug programs since he was in fifth grade, challenging
the statements that marijuana has no medical uses and suggesting
that legalization of drugs would eliminate much criminal activity.
None of his classmates shares his views, he said. But he gets lots
of support from his father, also a Libertarian.
"It seems that my son's civil liberties were directly violated",
the older Hoffman said. "He's expressed himself before and gotten
The younger Hoffman brought the articles to school after a
discussion of constitutional rights in his social studies class.
Allen said his teacher had promnised to read the articles.
On Monday, Allen was showing some of the articles to a friend during
the short "advisory" period before his first period math class.
When class started, Jacques went to the classroom and brought Allen
back to his office. Allen said Jacques took the material and said
he could retrieve it after school.
Others might get interested
"But he said I couldn't bring it back to school because, by reading
it, other kids could see it and get interested in it", Allen said.
"If it was DARE-stuff (drug abuse resistance education, a police-
sponsored program for fifth-graders) or 'Just say No', he wouldn't
care, but when you have the truth, they don't want it."
Principal Jim Lianides said the school did not intend to abridge
Allen's First Amendment right, only to prevent him from disrupting
classes. Lianides said Allen was free to bring any material he
wanted and share it with classmates at recess and lunch.
Allen said he'll continue to read and develop his politival ideas.
Ansd even though he differs with the way the school promotes its
anti-drug message, he has no interest in trying drugs himself.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank