Over the last 15 years, social media has become apart of our everyday lives; a place where everyone and anyone can post pictures, videos, opinions, and ideas. Social media is the place where you and I post things for others to see, and a way we communicate with people we don’t get to see everyday. We post our thoughts and opinions for the world to see, but is there such thing as going too far? Well apparently Twitter thinks so. Twitter, along with other massive social media websites has been banning and deleting people’s accounts because their opinions are seen as offensive to others. Owen S.Good claims, “You don’t have a right to do anything on Twitter. You have privileges there, granted by the people who created and operate the service. The assumption that Twitter should tolerate, enable or defer in its policies to those who claim their conduct is political or protected expression is absurd”. On the other hand, many people say that social media banning is contradicting our rights. The First Amendment states that we the people are granted freedom of expression, in other words, the right to express our ideas, thoughts, opinions, virtually anything we want!
I personally find it unbelievable that people are being blocked on social media for what they say. I understand if it is physically causing problems, and/or causing someone to get hurt, but just for someone expressing their opinions is absurd. However I don’t think they should be able to ban anyone. First off, you decide to follow that person. If they post something you don’t like, unfollow them. A solution is simply don’t read it, but if you choose to read something don’t get butthurt if it offends you. It’s their right to post their opinions and views. You also have the right to decide whether to read it or not. If it’s offensive, DON’T READ IT! Also, I believe if social media is going to ban someone for posting something offensive, they need to ban everyone who has done something similar. For example, Donald Trump needs to be banned because he has singled out multiple people on social media, and it is offensive. I personally don’t follow him and don’t care, but if they are going to treat everyone equally why does he get away with it?
Topic: Free speech rights of people employed by federal, state, and local government.
Essential Question: Should employers be able to fire or demote employees because of their political views?
There are around 22 million people that work for federal, state, and local government. All of them have limited 1st amendment rights. This focuses on freedom of speech. Recently there has been a breakthrough in the move towards equal protection under the 1st amendment for employees of government. In the Washington Post they explain the few ways that employees are protected. They say, “1. the speech is on a matter of public concern 2. the speech is not said by the employee as part of the employee’s job duties, Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), and 3. the damage caused by the speech to the efficiency of the government agency’s operation does not outweigh the value of the speech to the employee and the public (the so-called Pickering balance). Connick v. Myers (1983) (p. 567).”
In an article in the LA Times, the writer David G. Savage, explained the Supreme Court’s decision, “the Supreme Court has strengthened the rights of the nation’s 22 million public employees to protect them against being demoted or fired for supporting the wrong political candidate in the eyes of their supervisors.” This was an important decision that gives more protection to the employees. One of the more notable cases on this subject was Heffernan vs. City of Paterson. In this case a police detective was demoted because he was seen carrying a sign that opposed the mayor. The police chief strongly supported the current mayor. What happened was that the detective was delivering the sign to his mother. The lawsuit was filed in 2005 and finally reached the Supreme court in 2016. In an article from the New Yorker they talk about the decisions that were made in court. The article says, “The trial judge ruled that because Heffernan didn’t mean to get involved in the campaign, he hadn’t exercised any First amendment right, so he couldn’t bring a First Amendment claim.” Eventually the case made its way to the Supreme Court and the court ended up ruling in favor of Heffernan. My personal stance would be that employers should not be able to fire employees just because of their political beliefs whether they make them public or not.
Freedom of speech can be expressed in many different ways. It can be expressed through posters, words, and even clothing. On October 29, 2016, the University of Wisconsin stadium did not agree with the clothing that a fan was wearing. During a Saturday football game at Camp Randall, a fan showed up in an Obama costume with a noose tied around its neck. The school released a statement calling the costume racist and “repugnant” and saying that it “was an exercise of the individual’s right to free speech.” Looking at the First Amendment, only at freedom of speech, the fan that wore this costume is completely fine and he did nothing wrong. Freedom of speech implies that the government must respect citizens’ rights to express themselves. According to the First Amendment, this fan was doing nothing wrong and they have the right to be in the stadium without anyone trying to kick them out.
Many components can also tie into this article as well. Just because the freedom of speech implies that it is alright for him to wear that costume, the First Amendment’s Limits of Speech has another thing to say about it. Under the Limits of Speech, there is a rule about obscenity. Obscenity is an extremely offensive word or expression. The Limits of Speech comes in handy in situations like this. The First Amendment explains that the fan does have the freedom to express himself, but on the other hand, the Limits of Speech can come into play and say that the costume is too offensive and racist for the fan to be wearing in public. So, before you go out to express yourself in whichever way you want too, just remember the First Amendment as well as the First Amendment- Limit of Speech.