"You know what I just said about giving up? I lied."
Emma about the fight for organic foods in the Caf

Fight for Your Right is the nineteenth episode of Season 2 of the Canadian television series, Degrassi: The Next Generation. It originally aired on February 2, 2003 on CTV Television and on August 22, 2003 on The N. The episode shares its title with the song by the Beastie Boys.

Main Plot

Emma boycotts the lunch room because they serve genetically-modified foods and it may get her in trouble with Mr. Raditch. So when a food fights breaks out at the school because of Emma, she is sent home and is forced to give a apology letter or face a week's suspension.

Sub Plot

Spinner is jealous that Jimmy has more money than him, so he steals his MP3 player and tries to sell it to Sully. Jimmy then realizes this and Spinner feels bad about it, so he later gives it back to Jimmy in the Caf.

Extended Summary

Snake is helping Emma practice for her proposal to remove genetically modified foods from the Caf by pretending to be Principal Raditch. They engage in a mock debate about GM foods until Snake begins to laugh, asking Emma how many times they’re going to have to do this. She tells him that she has to be prepared for her meeting with Raditch tomorrow, and Snake assures her that she is, then tells her it’s past her bedtime. Emma tells him to calm down and that he’s got everything under control, to which he admits that he’s just not used to being in charge around here while Spike is out of town.

The next day, Emma catches up to Manny, J.T. and Toby as they walk to school. Toby asks what she's carrying, and she explains that it's for her meeting with Raditch later about removing GM foods from the Caf. J.T. teases her about being on the warpath, but Manny stands up for her and says that they should all be proud of Emma for being Degrassi's own Joan of Arc. Toby gently reminds Manny that Joan of Arc was a "lunatic who took orders from a burning bush" but Manny shrugs it off, saying she was also very brave and stood up for women. Emma thanks her for the compliment, but insists that she's simply following her conscience.

Spinner is looking at a flyer in the hallway advertising part-time help wanted in the Caf. Craig and Marco walk up and ask if he's actually considering applying because it probably sucks, and Spinner reminds them that he had to work in the Caf last year and it does suck. Jimmy approaches in a new warm-up suit and sneakers and Marco comments on how he'd never have to apply for a job. Craig asks if he won the lottery, and Jimmy explains that his dad took him shopping the night before as a belated birthday present.

Second period has arrived and with it, Emma's meeting with Principal Raditch. Emma, Ashley and Nadia try to convince Raditch that it would be prudent to at least try to remove most of the GM foods from the Caf, but he isn't very convinced, saying that it will raise food costs. Emma gives him a GM tomato to try and he takes a bite, saying that it taste fine. Her response is that sure, you can hardly even taste the scorpion in it. She goes on to explain to a taken aback Raditch that scorpion DNA is added to GM tomatoes to make them resistant to pests and that there are no studies on what exactly scorpion DNA could do to humans who ingest it. Raditch agrees, calling it "disturbing" but then going on to say that it's all purely speculation and that he's done research that proves GM foods have not been proven to be harmful. Ashley points out that they haven't been proven to be harmless either, but Raditch is done listening and thanks them all for their hard work then dismisses them.

In Media Immersion class, Spinner is surfing the net and looking at hoodies like Jimmy's. He frowns when he realizes that they're expensive, much more than he can stand to afford, and his mood worsens when he notices that Jimmy's got a brand new MP3 player as well. Spinner is amazed that Jimmy's dad must have spent at least $500 on it, but Jimmy shrugs it off. Spinner wonders why he's more excited about the MP3 player than Jimmy is, but Jimmy protests, saying that it's not a big deal because it's just an MP3 player. Spinner is astounded, admitting that he's been having to use cassette tapes ever since Ms. Kwan broke his discman last year. Jimmy just smirks, takes the player back from Spinner, and says "sucks to be you."

After school, Sean walks Emma home and tells her that if she doesn't like the Caf's food then to just not eat it. Emma explains that that isn't the point, that it's more about the fact that none of them know what they're actually eating when they choose to eat GM foods. Sean remarks that he usually doesn't care about causes like this, but it seems like Emma really has something important to say. Emma agrees and Sean reminds her not to back down for what she believes in before he gives her a kiss and leaves for home.

At school the next day, Marco expresses his jealousy that Jimmy is wearing a second new pair of shoes. He shakes his head and grins, saying that he wishes he had Jimmy's dad. Marco jokes that maybe Jimmy's dad could adopt him too, but Jimmy smirks and says they've already got another son, referring to Spinner, who spends a lot of time at Jimmy's house. Marco smirks and says that if Mr. and Mrs. Brooks really did love Spinner so much, maybe they should take him shopping more often, because Marco's seen Spinner wear that same hoodie six hundred times. Spinner looks a little hurt and protests that he likes the hoodie he's got on and Jimmy says he likes it too - back when he first bought it in grade 7. Marco and Jimmy laugh, but Spinner doesn't find it funny at all, telling Jimmy that not everyone has rich parents that can afford to buy them whatever they want. Jimmy gets mad and tells Spinner that his parents already do too much for him, then storms off with Marco in tow. Stunned, Spinner get his bag to leave and notices that Jimmy accidentally left something behind - his brand new MP3 player.

Emma is on the front steps of Degrassi handing out flyers and trying to get people to boycott the Caf. Most people brush it off and toss their flyers away carelessly, but Ellie actually stops to read what they say. Ellie points out that the Caf allows lots of kids who can't afford it to eat lunch, and Emma retorts by asking if it's worth it to get cancer twenty years down the road? Ellie says that if she were a starving kid in a third-world country, she'd rather eat GM foods now and get sick down the road later as long as it mean she actually had a future. Before Emma can respond, Raditch shows up and asks for Ellie's flyer. Radtich tells Emma that it's not acceptable to spread propaganda at school and takes the flyers from her.

In Ms. Kwan's class, Emma is complaining about Raditch taking her flyers to Manny. Emma knows she's lost and says she's going to give up but at least she got some kids thinking about it as Ms. Kwan calls the class to watch the morning announcements. Sheila makes a special announcement from the Caf to defend her food and put the rumors to rest with the help of J.T. Incensed, Emma vows to Manny that she's not giving up. At lunch, she storms up to J.T. and asks him exactly what he thought he was doing helping Sheila with the Caf announcement that morning. He and Toby don't care what Emma has to say, but she can't believe they're still buying the "toxic junk" that the Caf sells and goes to take Toby's french fries away from him. In the struggle, the tray flies backwards and straight in Jimmy, who retaliates by throwing food back at the three. It misses and hits an unsuspecting Paige, who angrily chases J.T. and throws her lunch at him. It hits Craig instead and a full-on food fight ensues, resulting in Radtich suspending Emma for the rest of the day. She tries to proclaim her innocence, but he insists that she started it all with the flyers. Radtich has no choice but to release her to Snake since Spike is out of town but Emma insists that he will fully support her.

After English class, Jimmy offers to let Marco listen to the new Kid Elrick on his MP3 player. He goes to get it from his bag and realizes it's missing. Angrily, he throws his bookbag across the room and Spinner warns him not to make his father angry. Jimmy doesn't care, but Spinner keeps getting in the middle of it until Jimmy calls him jealous. Spinner says it's not true, that he's about to order a hoodie like Jimmy's. Jimmy asks him where he got the money to pay for that, but Spinner snaps that it's none of his business and leaves the room.

Snake is teaching a Media Immersion class when Emma interrupts. He tells her that she should be at home since she's suspended, but she assures him that she did nothing wrong by protesting and has a seat in class. He tells her that she can't be at the school because she's in trouble, and she says she has as much of a right to hear the lesson as the rest of the students do. Snake is not amused and insists that they talk in private, then accuses her of trying to test him. She says it's more about Raditch and the fact that since Snake is her new dad she was sure he'd support her. Snake just frowns and makes her go home.

In the bathroom, Spinner approaches Sully and offers to sell him the MP3 player for $120. Sully thinks the deal is too good to be true and asks Spinner if it's stolen, but Spinner ignores the question and asks if he wants it or not. Sully agrees and they make a plan to meet in the foyer after school.

Emma refused to go home and is protesting near the bus stop across the street from Degrassi. Ellie interviews her for the Grapevine and brings up the GM foods issue, but Emma explains that it's not about that anymore - it's about freedom of speech and how she feels that hers has been silenced. Raditch comes outside and demands that Ellie stop the interview. Emma tells Raditch that she isn't technically on school property and is therefore not breaking any rules. Raditch responds by telling her that she has two choices: apologize for all of the mess she caused on tomorrow's morning announcements or be suspended for one week.

Jimmy is having conflicting feelings about approaching Spinner. After their confrontation in class, he's begun to feel bad about making fun of Spinner's hoodie and calling him jealous. After school, he decides to talk to him about it as Spinner waits in the foyer. Jimmy apologizes and Spinner hastily accepts but waits for Jimmy to leave. When he doesn't, Spinner asks why he's still there and Jimmy says he thought they'd walk home together and everything would go back to how it was before. Just then, Sully arrives and tries to give Spinner the $120 as Spinner assures Jimmy they'll walk to school together tomorrow morning. Spinner tries to play it off as Sully just owing him some money until Sully sharply reminds him that he owes him an MP3 player in return. Jimmy watches, ashen faced, as he realizes what's really going on before telling Spinner it sounds like a "steal" and leaving.

Emma is waiting for Snake to come home, expecting a lecture. When he does, she tells him to get it over with, but he tells her he's not going to give her a speech. She reveals the two options that Raditch gave her and exclaims that she can't apologize for something that she believes in. Snake tries to reason with her, telling her that there are bigger battles to fight, but she asks whether or not Snake would be comfortable with the new baby eating the GM foods. He tells her that as a family member he supports her, but as her teacher he can't.

The following morning Jimmy goes to the Caf to get some breakfast and is surprised to see that Spinner has taken the part-time job. He orders some food, but instead Spinner serves him a tray with the MP3 player on it. He apologizes and admits that it's hard for him to accept the fact that Jimmy gets whatever he wants and he can't afford anything. Jimmy asks him if stealing is his solution but Spinner admits he couldn't because Jimmy is his best friend. Jimmy takes the MP3 player, tells him he was his best friend, and leaves a stunned Spinner behind.

Emma goes on the morning announcements to read her apology to the school. She surprises everyone by not apologizing for her beliefs, but apologizing for the food fight, even though she believes she did nothing wrong. She says that the GM foods are not the issue and that she believes everyone has a right to their opinion. She ends it by saying that if believing in that right gets her suspended, then she accepts her fate. Raditch is visibly upset as Emma approaches and says that she guesses she's going home now. He agrees, and she accepts her punishment with pride.

  • "Heartbreaker" by Tuuli
  • "Flowz N' Skillz" by Evren