Poetic Justice

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

Nine days ago, 14-year old Jacob Behymer-Smith won a federal court battle against his school allowing him to compete Saturday for the state title in the Poetry Out Loud competition.

Just two weeks ago, Jacob Behymer-Smith was told by administrators at the Coral Academy of Science to pick a new poem to recite at the state Poetry Out Loud competition.
Despite the teen winning in his classroom, the school, and then the district contest with the WH Auden poem, the school said the two words: damn and hell, within the poem, could not be allowed.

Behymer-Smith says he fought the school for a good reason.
"The law protects you and if you have any problems that someone is going against your constitutional rights, the way to deal with that is bring it before a judge."

We were at the district court trial where the judge decided to grant an injunction against the school to allow Smith to compete with his poem of choice saying the piece was art, not profanity.
His pursuits were noted by, Gary Margolis, one of the organizers of the state competition.
"I think the lesson to be learned from the case is that there is a difference between certain words used in the context of very familiar works of art and those same words used in casual language. Where they may have different meaning. It's in how words are used themselves that make them profane or not profane."

Gibraun Baydoun took the state title at the competition and Smith placed second, an achievement he says is worth the battle he forged.
"Without it they could do stuff like this. They could tell you you can't recite a poem that you love or you can't write a book because they don't agree what the book is about."


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