Supreme Court declines professor’s free-speech case

MICHIGAN — A Macomb Community College professor losthis free-speech battle Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court declinedto hear his case.

English professor John Bonnell was originally suspended inFebruary 1999 following a student complaint about his repeateduse of foul language in the classroom. The student claimed thelanguage Bonnell used was, "dehumanizing, degrading, andsexually explicit."

He was known to use words and phrases such as "damn"and "blow job" and the expression "as useless astits on a nun" when discussing a short story dealing witha nun’s tensions about her sense of sexuality.

Bonnell responded to the first suspension by distributing awritten "apology," which poked fun at the student whocomplained and the college’s reaction to the complaint.

An investigation followed, and Bonnell was placed on paid leave.He was subsequently punished again with a four-month suspensionwithout pay by the college for the "apology." Bonnellthen filed a lawsuit against the college claiming his First Amendmentrights were being violated.

The Court’s denial of certiorari lets stand the Sixth CircuitCourt of Appeals’ decision allowing the college to suspend Bonnellfor the mock apology.