Censorship In Schools: The Confederate Flag

 

Since the beginning, education has been about exchanging ideas and understanding different views on events, even ones we don’t necessarily enjoy. Schools across the country are becoming more “politically correct”, as some would say, but is that really the right thing to do? Not only does this censorship inhibit the learning of students, but it may be infringing upon their 1st Amendment rights to free speech.

A prime example of this censorship is the banning of the Confederate Flag from schools, and any apparel that sports this symbol. While some people may see it as a sign of racial prejudice or hatred, its supporters have a different view of it entirely. Supporters of the Confederate Flag view it as a symbol of their heritage, and paying homage to those who fought in the Civil War. A timeless expression of family pride and an embrace of history. The main reason it has been banned is because districts argue that it distracts from the learning environment, but banning it might infringe upon the students 1st Amendment rights. People who don’t support the flag argue that the it is a symbol of “hate speech”, it is seen as a banner of white supremacy and racial discrimination, and understandably so. Banning it could protect these students from uncomfortable situations, or racism. However unless the Confederate Flag is used specifically to harm others is it that bad? What we should do is turn the flag into a topic of conversation, and learning. We should investigate what it means to each person, and bring forth our own views on it, such is the purpose of education. Controversy breeds thought, and we should share such thoughts with each other to spark a civil exchange of ideas, schools could benefit from students engaging in educated debates about controversial topics

 

Sources:

 

Rosen, Ben. &quot;Is the Confederate Flag Constitutionally Protected?&quot;<i> Christian Science Monitor</i>, 30 Oct 2016,<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a>.

 

Rampell, Catherine. &quot;Silencing Free Speech Isn’t the Way to Debate it.&quot;<i> Washington Post</i>, 16 Dec 2016, pp. A.19.<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.

Praying Before Football Games- Against the Law or Not?

In a lot of places, they pray before football and other games. It has been going on for a long time. Now, people are challenging if this is going against the law. The 1st Amendment gives people freedom of speech and religion. How people interpret that leads to conflict on this issue.

The football team in Dumore has prayed before games for a long time (read more here). They are now told they can’t and are not happy about it. They can’t pray before the game anymore because they were told it’s against the law as public teacher and coaches should not be involved in leading religious acts. The 1st Amendment says freedom of religion. Some people think that means that people should be free to pray if they want. The other side thinks that means students can choose to pray, but it can’t be led by staff because it goes against the separation of church and state. If people from a different religion or belief were there, they could feel pressured to just follow along or be treated differently.

In conclusion, students can still pray if they want, but the 1st amendment makes it so people can be free to practice their own religions how they want to and not how the school tells them to.(read more here)

Works Cited:

“PRO/CON…Should sports teams be allowed to pray before games?” October 18, 2012 by Amy Ayala from King’s Courier

http://www.ecrjournalism.com/opinioneditorial/2012/10/18/procon-should-sports-teams-be-allowed-to-pray-before-games/

 

“When Faith and Football Don’t Mix” by Ken Paulson October 23, 2012

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/10/23/football-texas-religion-prayer/1653057/

 

“Prayer Before Football Game Ruled Against The Law” by Stacy Lange 11/4/2016

wnep.com/2016/11/04/prayer-before-football-game-rule-against-the-law/

 

 

Student Free Speech

Can schools restrict students the right to freedom of expression? Freedom of expression appears to be a confusing thing to talk about like when can you say anything you want or when your right is suppressed due to certain circumstances. One of many incidents or examples of this is Morse vs. Frederick case dealing with a student bringing a banner off school grounds, at a school supervised activity saying “Bong hits 4 Jesus”, which then was taken away from the student by a school administrator. The school stated that “ it encouraged illegal drug use”. The ruling was no for this case, but this isn’t always the ruling for these touchy cases.

 

       School should be a place where students can’t express themselves in classes and speak their mind to engage conversations and to ask questions. In this very controversial case Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the case dealt with students displeasure and disapproval of the Vietnam War. They wore black armbands one day at school showing protest what they “ saw as an unjust struggle”. They were forced to take off the armbands and then suspended, then eventually the school district was in return sued. In result the Supreme Court favored for the students stating that “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate … School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students.”

 

     Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier case is a very well known case and emotional for everyone especially women the right to express themselves. The issue once again schools trying to suppress students 1st Amendment, two junior girls wanted to put facts and put out awareness about divorces on teens and teen pregnancy.

 

Hate Speech

Where does freedom of speech end, and hate speech begin? The first Amendment can be very controversial at times. “Establishing the line between protected speech and a federal hate crime can be challenging for prosecutors and courts and depends on the facts of each particular case.”(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/) Hate speech has always been a controversial topic because sometimes it can invoke violence. Comments intended as specific and immediate threats brush up against protections. For example, “It’s one thing to say, ‘Kill all the Jews,’ versus ‘Kill that Jew who was my kid’s school teacher who gave him an F,’” said James Weinstein, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University. That begins to lie under fighting words. According to (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/), A 1942 Supreme Court decision called Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire — which involved a Jehovah’s Witness who cursed at a city marshal, calling him a “damned fascist” — articulated a “fighting words” doctrine that restricted insults intended to provoke an “immediate breach of the peace.” Although hate speech is technically legal, some of it can be taken as fighting words and become a problem. This is where the first amendment becomes controversial. It’s hard to tell what fighting words are because there is no clear definition in the amendment. It depends on the scenario and many other factors.

Twitter on an alt-right banning spree

Essential Q: Is Twitter violating free speech by banning alt-right members?
Twitter, a worldwide social network, connecting, and sharing messages and words with people globally, is also controversial in the sense that as members are exercising their first amendment rights by tweeting whatever they want.
According to an article by the Washington Post, one cannot actually say whatever they want on twitter, thus showing that freedom of speech is not a viable excuse for tweeting out anything. Since the election of our new president, the level of discriminatory and hate speech has risen higher than it has been in a while. Many different alt-right and white supremacy groups are making their voices heard over many different platforms, especially twitter. Many believe what these groups are preaching is just them exercising their rights, but is is really? Twitter definitely doesn’t think so. They have banned numerous accounts associated with the alt-right movement, including the leader, Richard Spencer.
Spencer, doesn’t believe he did anything wrong. He believed that he is being treated unfairly and twitter is violating his rights. While his account has been banned Other like Trump are continually preaching similar rhetoric and not being banned. Not yet at least. As for twitter violating some users free speech, they may be going overboard in some cases,but in the case of banning members of the alt-right, they just might be doing right thing. This power that twitter has also may be bad for them in the long run,for people might feel that the have no rights on twitter, and no longer use it.

Pierson, David, and Paresh Dave. “Twitter’s Alt-right Banning Spree.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

Ohlheiser, Abby. “Banned from Twitter? This Site Promises You Can Say Whatever You Want.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

Hate Speech Right or Wrong

 

Is hate speech protected by the first amendment? To put it simply, yes it is. But it is more complicated than that. In the case R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992) it makes things more clear to some people. In this case a young white male burned a cross on a black family’s lawn. Under Minnesota law it is  illegal to place, on public or private property, a burning cross, swastika, or other symbol likely to arouse “anger, alarm, or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or gender.” The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Minnesota law was unconstitutional because it violated the youth’s First Amendment free speech rights. He could have been held responsible for damages done to the property. In the second case, Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476 (1993), Mitchell and several black youth were outside a movie theater after viewing Mississippi Burning, in which several blacks are beaten. A white youth happened to walk by, and Mitchell yelled, “There goes a white boy; go get him!” Mitchell and the others attacked and beat the boy. This hate speech was tried and they were found guilty.

 

So what’s the difference well one was a public display the other was physical and seen as fighting words. Fighting words or words that target one person to act in a violent way are not protected by the first amendment. So in a heated debate you cannot say hateful words to cause them to react but you could write them on a sign and protest with the same words. So you can express your opinion in public but you can not confront someone who may take offense to it with those same opinions.

  • ABA Division for Public Education: Students: Debating the “Mighty Constitutional Opposites”: Hate Speech Debate

“ABA Division For Public Education: Students: Debating The “Mighty Constitutional Opposites”: Hate Speech Debate”. Americanbar.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo: First Amendment doesn’t cover hate speech

“CNN’s Chris Cuomo: First Amendment Doesn’t Cover Hate Speech”. @politifact. N. p., 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Volokh, E. and Volokh, E.

Volokh, Eugene and Eugene Volokh. “No, There’S No “Hate Speech” Exception To The First Amendment”. Washington Post. N. p., 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

 

Hate Speech

Where does freedom of speech end, and hate speech begin? The first Amendment can be very controversial at times. “Establishing the line between protected speech and a federal hate crime can be challenging for prosecutors and courts and depends on the facts of each particular case.”(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/) Hate speech has always been a controversial topic because sometimes it can invoke violence. Comments intended as specific and immediate threats brush up against protections. For example, “It’s one thing to say, ‘Kill all the Jews,’ versus ‘Kill that Jew who was my kid’s school teacher who gave him an F,’” said James Weinstein, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University. That begins to lie under fighting words. According to (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-federal-law-draws-a-line-between-free-speech-and-hate-crimes/), A 1942 Supreme Court decision called Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire — which involved a Jehovah’s Witness who cursed at a city marshal, calling him a “damned fascist” — articulated a “fighting words” doctrine that restricted insults intended to provoke an “immediate breach of the peace.” Although hate speech is technically legal, some of it can be taken as fighting words and become a problem. This is where the first amendment becomes controversial. It’s hard to tell what fighting words are because there is no clear definition in the amendment. It depends on the scenario and many other factors.

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.” ~Benjamin Franklin, writing as Silence Dogood