LOS ANGELES – Posters that depicted President Bush with a Groucho Marx-style mustache and cigar were ordered torn down at a high school after a student complained.
Theater students, who had created the posters to advertise a satirical play, countered with new posters with a First Amendment message.
Principal Kenny Lee ordered 100 posters removed from the campus of El Camino Real High School (search) in the Woodland Hills area last week on grounds that they promoted smoking and "endorsing one ideology over another."
"That's our take on the student speech and conduct," Lee said.
The school-funded posters advertised the students' play, "The Complete History of America (Abridged)," which satirizes U.S. history.
A senior who supports the president wrote a complaint letter to the administration, teachers and students said.
"We had one student who was very upset," Lee said. "If something is bothering a student on campus, we're going to address it."
The poster ban infuriated some students.
"It taught us that the First Amendment certainly does not guarantee the right of free speech," said Jes Shah, 16, a junior in the school drama program.
The principal asked the drama students to come up with new posters. The new designs all feature a silhouette of Bush and a burning cigar, along with inscriptions such as "Free Expression for All (unless you are in high school)" and "What First Amendment?"
"They're good," Lee said. "I like the follow-ups."