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.


Pray be allowed

The first amendment protects , the freedom of speech and religion, we have to the right as citizens to express ourselves, so should sports team be allowed to pray before a game in school? There are to two sides to this. The first side is against sports team’s praying in a school before the game.  According to Matt from ProConit, ‘’ Individuals can pray before, during, and after a games on their own or with others in their own groups. But as an organized event for the entire crowd, prayer at a game is not proper.’’ I agree with Matt, I think we as people have a right to express freedom of speech and religion, but we have to remember the  separation of church and state. A letter from, Thomas Jefferson,he writes,“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”  I agree with statement, I think if people want to pray before  a game on there own, that’s fine, but doing as a whole team, exudes other people that don’t have the same religion as you and vice versa. Some people claim the reason for pray is bring bonding to a team. I disagree with this, I think there is other ways for a team to bond as a whole, such as doing fun things together.  But the other side this is that is praying before a game is good thing. The dictionary defines the word, ‘’pray’’ as to offer devout petition, praise,thanks.’’ I don’t think there is anything wrong with offering thanks and devout petitions.  Amy Ayala says,’’ I recently spoke to a high school football referee about teams praying before games. He said that there is nothing wrong with praying before a game as long as a  team member begins it and recites it.’’ Amy response to the referee, ‘’Student’s are not obligated to pray before a game, just as they are not obligated to recite the pledge of allegiance, or say the words, ‘’ under God.’’ It is a personal choice to pray, and if the student’s decide to say a prayer before a game, no one stop them. ‘’ I feel it is people right as citizens to  rights to freedom of speech and religion, I just think overall, I think it is the right for schools to make decisions. Regarding what they think is best for them. I don’t think it is fair, but in the end schools just want what is best for us.



‘’Ayala, Amy. “PRO/CON… Should Sports Teams Be Allowed to Pray before Games?”King’s Courier. Amy Ayala, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.’’


‘’Hattiesburg American, Hattiesburg. “ProConIt – Should Prayer Be Allowed before High School Football Games?” ProConIt – Should Prayer Be Allowed before High School Football Games? Hattiesburg American, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.’’

Free-Speech Rights of Public

Employees  Essential Question: Q:Does the First Amendment protect an employee’s freedom of expression at  a government workplace?   Before April 26th of 2016, public workers could be fired or demoted if their political views were known or thought to be known. However, the legality of the these actions changed on April 26th of 2016, when the Supreme Court came to a decision in the Heffernan vs. City of Paterson case. The court ruled in favor of Heffernan with Justice Stephen G. Breyer stating: “The government’s reason for demoting Heffernan is what counts here. When an employer demotes an employee out of desire to prevent the employee from engaging in political activity that the 1st Amendment protects, the employee is entitled to challenge that unlawful action.” What this statement means is that a public employee cannot be fired because they are seen participating in political activities outside of the workplace and/or if their political views are known. As Heffernan was demoted because his supervisor mistakenly assumed he was supporting an opposing candidate, this ruling in Heffernan vs. City of Paterson also forbids punishing an employee suspected association of a public employees’ political views. For example, if a public employee is suspected of having democratic views and or associating with that party, they cannot be fired on those suspected views alone.   Additionally, while public employees cannot be fired or demoted based on their political actions or views outside of the workplace, at work, public employees have restrictions on their free speech. Public employees cannot voice or express their political views at work because their actions at work are considered to be a part of the government, and the government cannot openly endorse one party or candidate. The only exception to this rule is if a public employee is voicing or expressing their “public concern” which is defined as speech involving a public issue that is important to the general public, and invokes a substantial amount of independent and continuing public attention. As written by the Congressional Research Service on page 30, the case of Pickering v. Board of Education ruled that the First Amendment “protects a public employee’s right, in certain circumstances, to speak as a citizen addressing matters of public concern: ” without fear of loss of government employment. The basis of the case of Pickering v. Board of Education was that the Supreme Court needed to balance “the interests of the teacher, as a citizen, in commenting upon matters of public concern and the interest of the State, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it.”   Sources  “SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.” Journal (American Water Works Association) 29.5 (1937): 699-713. Supreme Court of the United States. Web. “Supreme Court Strengthens Free-speech Rights of Public Employees.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. Midwest New Media, LLC – http://www.midwestnewmedia.com – (513) 742-9150. “Workplace Fairness.” Retaliation — Public Employees and First Amendment Rights. http://www.workplacefairness.org, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. . “Supreme Court Free Speech Ruling Bolsters Employee Rights.” Law360. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

Is School The New Church?


North Carolina’s Governor stated the intended goal of the proposed law would be to, “clarify student rights to engage in prayer and religious activity in school, to create an administrative process for remedying complaints regarding exercise of those student rights and to clarify religious activity for school personnel.”

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all. So our founders created the First Amendment — to guarantee the separation of church and state.

It is important that no new law corrupt or infringe on the constitutional rights of our citizens.

It is clear that this law is yet another attempt to do just that. To enact this law will open the school district to lawsuits from students and faculty alike in regards to expressions of religion that are or could be construed as unconstitutional.   In the  court case of  “ Wallace  v.   Jaffree “ this is exemplified.  Another case that addresses this subject of prayer during school functions such as graduation was found to be unconstitutional when considering that the school would be public. This was concluded in the case of “ Lee v. Weisman”.   

    What is needed instead perhaps is clarification of the constitution, as expression is already protected in a personal way. Examples include a student’s personal views as ascribed in a paper perhaps what is forbidden is an organized school sponsored prayer or prayer group.  




USA News “School Prayer fight Begins Anew” USA News.2014/08/2014

“Wallace v. Jaffree.” Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1984/83-812. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

“Lee v. Weisman.” Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/90-1014. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

Freedom of Symbolism

Should burning the American flag be considered symbolic speech, and should it be protected by the first amendment? Well after taking a deeper and careful look at online documents and reevaluating the first amendment, Iv’e came to the conclusion that yes it very much so should be called symbolic speech and it should be protected. There are many reasons backing that statement simply because “freedom of speech” was written into the constitution by our forefathers and therefore should be protected just like the rest of it. When it comes to symbolic speech there’s a sense of can and cannot’s deemed acceptable by the American people. These “do’s and don’ts” really shouldn’t have a place. Simply because when it come to a situation like flag burning the American people should keep in mind that it is protected. No matter how you look at it and try to demonize the act it’s protected by our constitution and rightfully so. If we as a people deem it necessary to ban one act that is clearly  protected by our constitution then what is the point of having such a thing in place? A bunch of guys sat in a room and signed off on a large sheet of paper that would set the course of America so if one thing on that paper is wrong the whole thing is too.


Can Public Schools Limit the First Amendment Rights of Speech of Their Students?

Morse v. Frederick – First Amendment

Essential Question: When can a public school limit a student’s first amendment rights on school property?

High school is a time of change and prosperity within finding one’s self. Gaining freedom is something that all high schoolers experience in the four years of high school. When the majority of students think of freedom as a high schooler, they think of getting their driver’s license or going to a party; however, they minimally think about their freedom of speech. Free speech of students within public schools has been a controversial issue since approximately the 1960’s and it has not settled much since that time. The big question is: should schools be allowed to limit the freedom of speech a student has? Many people actually believe that schools should have the power to limit students freedom of speech. There are a few specific cases where free speech was tested, and some cases had an outcome of schools having power over speech, some did not. In 2002, a high school student from Alaska, Joseph Frederick, held up a sign reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” at a school-supervised event. The principal, Deborah Morse, interpreted the sign as advocating for illegal drug use and Frederick was suspended for 10 days. This was taken to court and the U.S. District Court for District of Alaska ruled in favor of Morse since “Frederick’s action was not protected by the first amendment (ruled it was not political)”. However, many officials were proud to stand out and state their opposing opinion to that ruling. Justice John Paul Stevens stated, “a school’s interest in protecting students from speech that can be reasonably regarded as promoting drug use does not justify Frederick’s punishment for his attempt to make an ambiguous statement simply because it refers to drugs” and to back this up, The Supreme Court ruled that “justification must be more than a mere desire to avoid discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.” Therefore, justification of a supposed punishment must have sufficient evidence that the problem caused more than just discomfort. To parallel with Morse v. Frederick, Tinker v. Des Moines was a situation where two students wore back armbands to protest the Vietnam War. In this case, court claimed “the First Amendment applies to students on school property unless officials can demonstrate a reason to restrict it”. This was an expression of a political view, and therefore, the school could not follow through with punishing the students. Morse v. Frederick, nonetheless, can be contradicted to another big case within this subject: Bethel v. Fraser. This case was a battle between a student and his school district for using sexual innuendos, not obscenity, in a speech for a classmate that was running for vice president. The court in this situation claimed, “the constitutional rights of students at public schools are not automatically coextensive with rights of adults”. With this, the student was using vulgar language that was interpreted as so and got punished for that behavior. There are strong cases both ways when it comes to freedom of speech among high school students, but the line between what is free speech and what is not is a very thin, seemingly invisible line. It is important for high school students to know their rights, and even more when they venture into the real world. The First Amendment tends to be very controversial and will not stop being that way, since many opinions can be twisted and turned any and every which way.

Tags – The Supreme Court,   Tinker v. Des Moines,   Bethel v. Fraser

Works Cited

Wikipedia. Aug. 2016, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_speech_(First_Amendment).

    Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.
The First Amendment and Public Schools. media.okstate.edu/faculty/jsenat/jb3163/studentpress.html.

Net Neutrality – What’s the issue?

Net neutrality is a problem in America that goes mostly unnoticed to the majority of the population. However, it’s a larger issue than most might think. Net neutrality is the concept of making the internet equal to everybody, meaning equal internet speeds and search engines not being biased. This means that no company is able to push a site to be faster than a competing site and search engines would only be filtered based on time posted, popularity, etc. The FCC has been trying to make net neutrality a reality for many years now but has always been overturned. Lots of people believe that this is the answer to all of the internet’s problems, but it can also raise new issues for many other people who use the internet.

Since the internet is something that all of its users pay for in taxes, many think it should be equal for everybody instead of companies pushing their ideas and opinions onto other people. Making the internet equal for all would eliminate the bias search engines have towards certain companies. Why do Fox News, CNN, and NBC seemingly always come across our webpages before any other news source? These news sources are able to use their status and their funding to push their articles, videos, and opinions to virtually anybody in the world. According to Al Franken from CNN, it’s nearly impossible for an individual producer to get their own ideas and program out there unless a more powerful company owns at least a portion of it. For example, Fox News has the power to push another news source to the front, gaining popularity. However, if Fox News doesn’t like something this individual producer has to say, they also have the power to shove it into the dirt. This arguably inflicts on the individual producer’s first amendment right, freedom of expression, because Fox News would theoretically have the power to silence the individual producer. This is something that many people for the implementation of net neutrality are worried about. Equal for opportunity for everybody isn’t always a bad thing! However, as for everything, there are major drawbacks that come with completely equal internet…

The internet is full of creativity, innovation, and diversity. Many people believe that equalizing the internet would block those from being noticed by other people. According for Forbes, net neutrality would “stifle innovation by blocking companies from turning new ideas into successful products”, which is absolutely true. We seem to forget that some people make a living off the internet, and in order for them to support themselves, they should be rewarded for their hard work. If I made a new invention that would work for the majority of Americans, I would want to be able to use any funding I had to push my ideas out to other people to try to make a profit, instead of it being buried under loads of scam sites. This is how lots of companies feel; they don’t want their creativity to be blocked just because some people want a fair playing ground. A one size fits all way of internet is not a way to use the internet at all. The world is never fair game for everybody, and internet service providers and other companies want it to stay that way for the internet too so they can make profit, which isn’t exactly a bad thing. We all need to live, but there are always ways people can work around this while still making a profit.

In my opinion, I think the internet should be equal to everybody. Equal internet means that you’ll be able to see and experience everything the internet has to offer, and bigger companies don’t have the power to silence other companies that aren’t as well off. Net neutrality would give us more choices as to what we see and read on the internet. The internet is full of diversity and it should not be blocked by a few big companies that have made it big.

Works Cited

Dorfman, Jeffrey. “Net Neutrality Is A Bad Idea Supported By Poor Analogies.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Franken, Al. “Net Neutrality Is Foremost Free Speech Issue of Our Time.” CNN. Cable News Network, 05 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.



“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