Slander Ruins Lives

There are many huge examples of slander in today’s society and it was hard to narrow it down to just one example. The real question is does slander violate Freedom of Speech limits to the First Amendment. The Freedom of Speech is a huge part of our democracy and hold together our government. A huge violation of Freedom of Speech would have to be slander. Slander is when you make false statements about a certain person or group. Slander is protected by the first amendment but I feel it should not be. Donald Trump for example has used this technique before with Barack Obama. Benjamin Zipursky, who teaches defamation law at Fordham University Law School in New York summarized what Mr. Trump had to say stating “He’s basically stating that Mr. Obama committed crimes, and to state that somebody has committed a crime when it’s false is clearly defamatory”. You see why this should be banned because he is making false statement against our former president that could really affect how people feel about him. This is not fair to him and this should not be protected under the first amendment.
A big problem that is protected by the first amendment is the Slapped technique in court. This technique is very unfair to the middle class and lower. Slapping someone is when a person gets rid of the issue the person is sueing you for by drowning them in lawyer costs and other fees so that they can do nothing about that issue. You see why this is an issue, because of the money alone this person has no say about this issue that usually needs to be fixed. From these many examples you see why slander and the slapped technique should not be protected by the first amendment. These cause more problems and should be fixed for people to keep their image and to be able to have and have equal right to get a problem fixed so money does not get in the way.

McCausl, Phil, et al. “Analysis: Does Obama Have Grounds to Sue Trump for Libel?” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 6 Mar. 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/analysis-does-obama-have-grounds-sue-trump-libel-n729376

First Amendment Center, http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/libel-defamation/.

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How does the first amendment protect what teachers say in the classroom?

Each day millions of parents send their children to schools where teachers are ignorant, or disobedient, to the restrictions of what and how they can teach in the classroom. Topics such as religion, politics, and other controversial issues are being portrayed unequally, infringing upon student’s right to a fair view on the world around them.

Students have a wide range of religious freedom protected by the First Amendment in the classroom, such as forming religious based groups, praying in the classroom if not distracting, and incorporating their beliefs into school assignments. But, teachers have many more restrictions than students. In public school, teachers and school districts are required by the First Amendment to neither promote nor inhibit religion. Fairness is demonstrated when the curriculum includes academic study about religion when the content is tied to academic objectives to ensure a rounded education. Although court systems are not black and white, and many cases fall in a gray area, teachers should be educated on their overall limitations.

Because classrooms are not considered public forums, teachers must work within school limitations in their approach to sensitive topics, careful not to take sides on political controversies. Unfortunately this has not been the case especially during the recent election. The Washington Post published an article from October 14th, 2016 glorifying “Teachers of the Year” who are publicly going against their obligation to remain neutral involving political topics in the classroom. Instead of being punished for their violation of what teachers can and cannot do inside the classroom, their “moral imperative” to spread their opinions to their students was praised. Classrooms in my own school have shown evident bias towards political candidates, and teachers have encouraged students with the same views to act disrespectfully towards opinions of opposite views. If a small school in Wisconsin has such a large divide and lack of respectful discussion for students with a range of diverse beliefs, what other inequities are taking place nationwide, and what will we do about it?

Are students losing their rights at school?

Generally, the supreme court will allow students to wear whatever they want in school unless it is a complete distraction to others around them. For example, in the case Tinker vs. Des Moines, the supreme court ruled that Mary Beth and other students were allowed to wear what they wanted. They came to school wearing armbands to protest the Vietnam war. The school asked the students to take them off, and when they didn’t, the school suspended them. Although they got suspended, the supreme court ruled later that the school could not limit the student’s speech unless it was causing a distraction, and that this was not.

Although most schools and teachers see these expressions and immediately think the students need to take them off, this is not how the law works. These thoughts come from the fact that we do not want to see other student’s and people’s feelings being hurt. Although we want to protect these other students, the reality is the students wearing the expressions have the right to wear whatever they chose. The first amendment protects the rights of these students to wear anything unless it is a distraction. Although it might make some people mad, the school has no right to suspend/expel the student for wearing it. In the Tyler Chase Harper case, he was told by the supreme court that he could not wear his shirt. He came to school with a shirt that said “homosexuality is shameful” on it which caused a lot of controversy. This shirt was ruled as a distraction to other students, and Harper was forced to take it off.

Some would think, what is the difference between Beth’s expression with her armband and Harper’s expression with his shirt? Both are expressions, but in Harper’s case, it was also ruled a distraction. This ruling can seem unfair because there is not much of a difference

“Tinker V. Des Moines – Landmark Supreme Court Ruling On Behalf Of Student Expression.” American Civil Liberties Union. N. p., 2012. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.

https://www.aclu.org/other/tinker-v-des-moines-landmark-supreme-court-ruling-behalf-student-expression

“Student’s First Amendment Rights Denied By Ninth Circuit Court.” Eagleforum.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.

http://eagleforum.org/educate/2006/june06/student-rights.html

 

Public Locations or Unequal, Unshared Locations?

1916 was the beginning on the controversy of whether or not public places should be able to not allow certain speakers and meetings to occur because of the possible danger to people, or even the beliefs of those in charge to rent out a place. By the time it was 1929, controversy over the banned play in Boston, Strange Interlude, took place at the Old South Meeting House on whether or not it should have been banned as a protest about it occurred. The First Amendment was taken into consideration as the idea of freedom of speech was being contended with. The public building took the community’s voice into the doors, and continued to in the future. Today, the public building serves to hold speakers no matter their popularity or even how controversial the speech may be. But, is this the right thing to do?

 

Today, there is still contradictions over whether or not public places should be able to control who speaks since public places are paid for through people in an area. An example of a dispute today right in Madison is mainly about Scott Walker wanting a law to protect offensive speech from occurring on campus. Will this repress speech, or protect violence? Previously on the UW-Madison campus, disruptive protests have happened and even a white nationalist group tried to form. This was all from speakers that were allowed to speak at the campus. Clearly, this is dangerous to all people surrounded in this city. Still, on the other side, a speaker by the name of Robin Vos said the campus allows too many liberal guest speakers, and the all of the contrasting ideas should be discussed and exposed to these college students. Another event that occurred was at the University of California-Berkeley. Ann Coulter is a conservative commentator who was supposed to speak at this university. Known violence was supposed to occur when she came, so Berkeley cancelled her event–twice. The Chancellor of Berkeley, Nicholas Disks said, ”This is a university, not a battlefield.” The campus also supposedly said the place was not secure by local police, making it unsafe for everyone, Coulter knew this was a lie. She was not happy with the university’s decision. Should she have been allowed to speak?

 

In conclusion, all over the United States there is so much discussion over whether or not public places can allow people who may cause a lot of negative actions to occur. There should be more control over who speaks so more events like the ones stated in the previous paragraph that happened on the UW- Madison campus do not occur and put our population into major danger. More security is needed for our people.

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/26/525745159/after-back-and-forth-ann-coulter-speech-is-off-at-uc-berkeley

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/education/university/scott-walker-wants-law-requiring-uw-officials-to-protect-offensive/article_fae53172-118b-5ae1-96dd-dd26e3de5bd3.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/04/26/ann-coulter-speech-canceled-at-uc-berkeley-amid-fears-for-safety/?utm_term=.614386d1855e

 

Core Political Speech: When Has the Line Been Crossed??

By definition, Core Political Speech is expressions which comment on government action rather than the private conduct of an individual. By law, the First Amendment protects citizens’ right of freedom of expression. Citizen’s have the right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through writing, speech, and other forms of communication but without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements. Yet, some facilities and companies overstep their boundaries and take away employees’ and other people’s right to express their beliefs and views to others. But, where do employers and facilities cross the line and say your freedom to express what you say is too much?? In one instant, at N.C. Central University, students using any derogatory terms in the dorms that offended others, broke dormitory conduct policy. The student policy at N.C. Central is “avoid using the written or spoken word in a way that demeans, defames, offends, slanders or discriminates.” If an offensive derogatory term is used and a facility members finds out, the terms could lead to punishment for said students. The foundation’s director of policy research, Samantha Harris, said “A broad provision like this could even implicate the kind of core political speech that is at the heart of what the First Amendment protects.” To protest the school abandoning the rights along with the First Amendment, an advocacy-and-legal-aid group mailed 111 university officials saying that they are “vulnerable to a court challenge and, in its opinion, to being found personally liable for damages if they don’t rewrite their policies.” Any student could take offense to any belief or opinion another student has. It’s not fair for the university to say that students can’t express their views in front of their peers. It takes away the students right to freedom of expression in a place that is supposed to encourage different viewpoints. This university is crossing the line of forgetting that any student has the right to express their own views and opinions, as long as they abide to the limitations of the U.S. Government.

Another instance occurred when assistant State Attorney, KrisAnne Hall, was fired from her assistant position after what she believes was because she spoke her mind about the U.S. Constitution to other groups at a gathering. According to Karianna Wilkins, the president of 3rd Judicial Circuit, “She discussed the Constitution and our Founding Fathers and encouraged we the people to educate and inform ourselves; The Gainesville Tea Party fully supports KrisAnne Hall’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and right to peaceably assemble.” Also according to First Coast Tea Party organizer Billie J. Tucker, “Ms. Hall engaged in core political speech on a matter of public concern, which is the most highly valued and protected form of speech; she did this as a private citizen and not in her capacity as an assistant state attorney.” Her former boss, State Attorney Skip Jarvis, believed “he has the right under Florida law to fire an assistant without cause”, yet KrisAnne Hall believes she was fired for not what she said but who she talked to. Tucker said there’s no indication her speeches, which also touched on health care reform and budget deficits, interfered with her work or that of the State Attorney’s Office. Her bossed crossed the line when firing her because it made the public seem Hall said something that Jarvis didn’t agree with, even though he said he has the right to fire an assistant with no reason.

Only these were a few examples of how freedom of expression and core political speech is swiped from citizens of the U.S. because others may not believe in what others express. By abandoning the protection of the First Amendment, it’s abandoning the right to freedom of speech. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”

 

 

 

Work Cited:

  • “Bookmarkable URL Intermediate Page.” Web.b.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2017. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.
  • ” Ebscohost Login .” Web.b.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2017. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.
  • ” Political Speech Definition .” Duhaime.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.

Speech Codes: Are They a Scourge or a Savior to Free Speech?

Many people know the First Amendment: the right to expression, the right to peacefully assemble, freedom of the press, the right to petition the government, etcetera. However, not many people know where the boundaries of these rights lie. People push these boundaries all the time and right now college campuses are but one example. Administrators at colleges are attempting to enforce speech codes. Yet, does enforcing speech codes violate the right to free expression described in the First Amendment? How far can speech codes go before the contradict the rights to free expression and peaceful protesting described in the First Amendment?

There are many ways speech codes could be enforced. But depending on how they are applied, they could break the First Amendment. A few forms of expression, specifically in regards to free speech, that are not protected by the First Amendment are slander or libel, fighting words, and obscenity. This means that someone can not go in front of a crowd and defame, insult, threaten, or say anything that may be considered hate speech to someone without consequences. One example of hate speech can be seen in a video of Milo Yiannopoulous at UW Milwaukee. In this video, he verbally attacked and degraded a transgender student. They still were spoken with no point other than to make fun of a subject and way of life that Yiannopoulous did not agree with. Another example of hate speech and fighting words is threats. As stated by Ben Shapiro, some people “greeted the birth of [his] second child by calling for [him, his] wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber”. There was no purpose to this statement other than to express a disagreement with his religion. Under the First Amendment, hate speech is not something you can say without consequences. Speech Codes cannot be used to prevent speakers with controversial opinions from speaking. They cannot prevent people from peacefully disagreeing and debating about topics. However, speech codes can apply consequences if that speech becomes hateful or slanderous since that speech would no longer be protected under the First Amendment.

Some Speech Codes are also attempting to limit the student’s right to peacefully protest a speaker. The First Amendment specifically says “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. To restrict the right to peacefully assemble is a direct violation of the First Amendment. Yet, as seen on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education website, also known as FIRE, some college campuses are restricting the student’s rights to peacefully assemble and protest on the grounds that they are disrupting the speaker’s right to freedom of speech. Furthermore, the Wisconsin Campus Free Speech Act states that “protests and demonstrations that interfere with the expressive rights of others are subject to sanction”. There must be a line drawn as to what qualifies as disruptive and interfering demonstrations. The line is whether or not there is any form of violence or hate speech. If a protester simply said the speaker was wrong, held signs, and argued about right versus wrong, nothing can be done about it because they are protesting peacefully, as the First Amendment says they can. However, if a protestor started doing damage or cursing out the speaker, then they would have to face consequences. Recently at UC Berkeley, protesters became very violent at a speech by Yiannopoulous and had to be escorted off the premises. UC Berkeley encompasses what a protest that is not protected by the First Amendment is, and what Speech Codes can restrict.

In the end, Speech codes can be useful to make speeches more peaceful and clearly define punishments for breaking that peace, however, they must still subject to the First Amendment.

Sources:

EBSCO: The New Battle Over Campus Free Speech

Milo Yiannopoulos verbally attacks a transgender student (1:30-3:05)

The Atlantic: The Glaring Evidence That Free Speech Is Threatened on Campus

Wisconsin Campus Free Speech Act

A few examples of Hate Speech against Ben Shapiro

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

UC Berkeley

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