Fighting words, where should the line be drawn?

People have always been told they can say whatever they want whenever they want. However, is this the truth? Your right to say whatever you want was limited in 1942 due to the supreme court case between Chaplinksy V. New Hampshire. This case found that speech is unprotected if it constitutes “fighting words”. Fighting words, as defined by the court, are words that “tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace” by provoking a fight. So where should the line be drawn?



When does protesting step over the line.

          Does creating buffer zones in front of public buildings violate a person’s right to peaceably assemble that is granted to them through the first amendment. In some places around the united states local governments are creating “buffer zones” around public buildings to prevent violent protesters from gaining access to the facility. In the past violent protesters have caused serious damage, for example the Berkeley riots in February of 2017. The people who participated in these riots were brought on by antifa and far-left socialists because they disliked the exercise of free speech by an individual named Milo Yiannopoulos. The “alt-left” were using and abusing the very same right they were trying to suppress. If there were buffer zones the violence could have theoretically been lessened. It is only ok for a local government to introduce buffer zones if they deem in necessary for the safety of the people they are sworn to protect. In 2014 the supreme court dismissed a proposed law from Massachusetts to create buffer zones outside of abortion clinics because people attempting to get inside were being heckled by right-leaning protesters.

          The first amendment should be upheld fully until the point at which its protections hurt the people it was implemented to protect. When protesting peacefully becomes full scale rioting it is time to step in and prevent violence. In general conservatives are known for holding the 1st amendment, and the rest of the constitution, in high regards. On the other hand Liberals are generally known for disliking some of the pillars of the constitution. In conclusion the 1st amendment does protect the rights of the people to protest but it doesn’t protect their right to riot and hurt other people.

Group against proposed Toledo law on abortion clinic access: EBSCOhost

” Group Against Proposed Toledo Law On Abortion Clinic Access: Ebscohost .” N. p., 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

EDITORIAL: It’s a crime scene, not a ‘protest’: EBSCOhost

” EDITORIAL: It’s A Crime Scene, Not A ‘Protest’: Ebscohost .” N. p., 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.


Burning the Flag: Disrespectful or an Expressive Symbol

In 1984, Gregory Johnson burned an American flag in Texas outside a convention center where the Republican National Convention was being held. Gregory Johnson did this because he did not agree with the policies of President Ronald Reagan. He was arrested and charged with violating a Texas statute and desecrating the American flag. He was charged a $2000 fine and sentenced to one year in jail.  He fought back saying that burning the flag was a form of symbolic speech that was included in the first amendment. The case was brought up to the supreme court. The court ruled 5-4 that Johnson’s actions of burning of the flag were protected under the first amendment. However, this angered many people who disagreed with burning the flag.

Some look at this issue as that burning a flag is a symbol that expresses their feelings without using words. This is a representative government, so some believe that they have the right to burn the flag if they do not believe in the actions or policies in the United States of America. However, on the other hand, many citizens feel that burning the American flag disrespects all the veterans who have served in the United States military. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have died defending this country. We need to respect those who have risked their life and died for our country. However, we also need to respect those who want to express their opinions through various form of symbolic speech.

Another form of symbolic speech is burning of the draft card. The “United States v.s. O’Brien” case was about David O’Brien who burned his draft card at a Boston Courthouse because he was expressing his opposition about war. Some felt like this was overstepping the line of symbolic speech and some felt that it was a form of symbolic speech. We as citizens need to find the line between being disrespectful or an expressive symbol.





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


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=”; target=”_blank”></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=”; target=”_blank”></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

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

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



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.”( 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 (, 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