Tag Archives: 1st amendment

To Ban or Not to Ban. That Is The Question?

The 1st Amendment is the one that seems to mess with the minds of the people most. If you went to downtown Madison and started asking people about the 1st Amendment, most of the people that were asked would hopefully say the following; express freedom of the press, petition, exercise, assemblies, and, the biggest controversial one, freedom of speech. So where does the banning of books – due to obscenities violate the first amendment? Well, let’s find out.

In this world, there seems to always be an issue with the authority figure having a struggle dealing with the freedom of speech. This is where the apparent struggle within communities and where the discussion of banning certain books falls. In the past, there were books that were banned or argued to be banned that people could not figure out why that book was banned or had a hard time believing the ¨why¨. In the banned books, glorious hall, you can uncover To Kill a Mockingbird, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher of the Rye, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The reason for these books to be argued is because the foul language that is used and affecting people thoughts with sexual and violence used. For example, The Great Gatsby proudly explained what the 1920’s was actually like. The reason for the argument of banning The Great Gatsby had to do with the content of the book. For example,  how the author expresses death, adultery, and extreme parting. Another book that is challenge is To Kill a Mockingbird. In this past year in Monona Grove High School, there was an issue about a parent wanting to ban To Kill a Mockingbird from the English 9 curriculum. They felt like it contained misleading or inappropriate language regarding African American culture. They felt that if their child read the book, that their child would feel uncomfortable and would be misrepresented. Parents would not want their children to read Fifty Shades of Grey in school, would you? Some parents might think that certain books, like Fifty Shades of Grey and The Advantages of Huckleberry Finn, are bad for their own child’s mind, but other parents thought that those books have no harm just the truth about the time period or race. Parents might worry about what ideas their kids are getting in their heads from reading this book, and may also worry about the actions they will carry out. However, being able to read the book should be a personal choice, so one parent’s desire to have a book banned (removing from shelves) effects other people. Parents have a higher sense of obscenity than their own child, teacher, or others. That is why children and parents differ on what they think is acceptable language and what is a ¨appropriate book¨ to read.

People usually forget about the value of literature, which brings up the question about freedom of speech. Books should not be ban because the violates the freedom of speech in terms of the authors. When people want books to be ban, they are technically violating the 1st Amendment by not giving the author the right to express their words and thoughts. The reason for people acting out is because they want to protect their children from harmful or inappropriate material that the authors portray in their books. That is where the Banned Book Week came to existence. Banned Book Week is a week where the entire book community, like librarians and teachers, gets together because they have a shared passion for fighting against book banning. Parents continue to challenge books that are being used in school, where other parents want their children to go into that library and buy/ look that those books. Books help young children to acquire knowledge and skills needed to learn about America’s past and present, and if parents take the right to read away how do children learn about the world, or what is real and fake. How would you feel if one of your favorite books got banned?

When someone wants to ban a book, for whatever reason, do not bring the issue to the government, bring it to the teacher or school and ask them in person to find another way to deal with the situation. If the child is still under the authority of the parents, then the parent should ask to give a different book to the child. Also, people should have better reasons when banning books other than their thought on the book. For others who want books banned, they should start at the local level and have meaningful conversations about the content and try to reach a solution. Instead, of going to the media, support groups who want books banned. People make such a bigger deal out of it rather than being civil or rational.  


Works Cited:

RiveDal, Karen. “Monona Grove Parents´ Request To Remove Harper Lee Book Denied”. Wisconsin State Journal, 2018, https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/monona-grove-parents-request-to-remove-harper-lee-book-denied/article_b2f6075c-cee0-5e8a-b476-a165f5c0909b.html. Accessed 26 Sept 2018.

Rohrer, Finlo. “Why Are Parents Banning School Books?”. BBC News, 2010, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-11417672. Accessed 23 Sept 2018.

“Banned Books Week”. Advocacy, Legislation & Issues, 2018, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned.Accessed 26 Sept 2018.


Burning of the American Flag

Should burning the American flag be illegal? The right to be able to burn the American Flag should be illegal. Burning the flag is a form of expression, not speech. How is burning the American flag legal when burning money isn’t? From the ThoughtCo. Article, “..makes tearing up or burning money a crime is Title 18, Section 333, which was passed in 1948..” If burning the flag is a legal form of symbolic speech, then why is money treated differently? There are two main opinions on the topic and no matter the law, there will always be people that disagree. According to ACLU article, “Democracy is strong because we tolerate all peaceful forms of expression, no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel or how much they disagree.” It is a natural response for citizens to disagree with others actions. Are we to outlaw all political expressions that bother residents? Some opinions indicate that burning the American flag is a form of expression rather than speech. More from the ABC news article, “President Donald Trump wrote on Tuesday that anyone caught burning the American Flag should face consequences — including having their citizenship yanked or facing a year in jail, according to his tweet.” This issue has come up a few times in the supreme court, but has never been passed.


Works Cited:

Head, Tom. “Anti-Flag Burning Laws in the U.S.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 2018, http://www.thoughtco.com/united-states-flag-burning-laws-history-721207.

King, James. “How the Law Protects Flag Burning in the United States.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 30 Nov. 2016, abcnews.go.com/Politics/law-protects-flag-burning-united-states/story?id=43855624.

Murse, Tom, and Nieman Foundation. “Here’s Why Mutilating Your Money Can Land You in Prison.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, http://www.thoughtco.com/is-burning-money-illegal-3367953.


Money is Free Speech?

Can you use money to suppress other people’s freedom of speech? It has been a big controversy throughout the United States about using money in politics. People generally think that the more money a campaign has, the better they will do during an election. That’s when the saying “money is speech” developed because people started to become aware of how much money the candidates were spending during their campaign and seeing that the person who spent the most money tended to win. This was also a concern because people were giving their favorite candidate money so that they could have more “airtime” or put out more messages for the public. To try and make the elections even, the government put a limit on how much money can be spent on campaign speech and how much money the candidates get from tax dollars. From The Hill News, “Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has proposed a bill banning congressional candidates from receiving money from political action committees (PACs).” The PAC is a committee that helps raise and spend to help elect or defeat candidates.

Putting a limit on the amount of money that a candidate can receive can be seen from either perspective. Some people think it makes the campaigns more fair so that both parties have an equal chance of winning, depending on their ideas. Others think that it ruins the chances of their favorite candidate to win because they don’t have enough money to get more “airtime” or to have more advertisements about their election. People also don’t see the reason for congress to pass the bill putting the limits on money, if it’s considered a form of speech and is protected by the 1st amendment. According to The Amendment Gazette, the supreme court does not really care about wealth in politics but that they understand how important it can be during an election. To conclude, limiting the amount of money that one can have in an election can affect how a candidate can be perceived to the public.. No matter what way you view the situation, money and how we use it in elections is still a big controversy through America.


Works cited:

Stone, Geoffrey R. “Is Money Speech?” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-r-stone/is-money-speech_b_1255787.html.

Albanese, Joe. “Spending Money in Politics Is Part of Our Cherished Freedom of Speech.” TheHill, The Hill, 25 Aug. 2017, thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/campaign/347829-sorry-democrats-money-counts-as-protected-political-speech.

Huckin, Tom, et al. “How Spending Money Became a Form of Speech.” The Amendment Gazette, www.amendmentgazette.com/how-spending-money-became-a-form-of-speech/.

Should schools be allowed to punish students for wearing clothing containing the confederate flag?

In a world as divided as ours, people are forced to be careful of what they wear at all times. In recent news students are being harshly punished for wearing clothing with the confederate flag depicted on it. They are being suspended for simply wearing clothing supporting the rebel states, which was one of the sides of the civil war. By schools banning the confederate flag, they are nearly banning southern colonial heritage. For example a story of a black mother who started a hate-free schools coalition, after witnessing a confederate flag on the back of a students car, is now responsible for passing a dress code prohibition against anything containing the Confederate flag, swastikas or Ku Klux Klan logos. Although there is no way of telling whether the student is trying to start a disturbance or if they are simply supporting their heritage. Many believe barring the flag is an example of silent free speech which they believe should be protected under the 1st amendment So where is the line drawn in the sand for confederate attire on school property?

On the other hand there are on occasion students who wear the flag with intentions of causing discomfort in others or to even provoke a violent act from a pier/s. This is where it gets tricky because it is one thing if students are wearing this clothing in support of their heritage but another if they are wearing it to get an arise out of their piers. It is a very soft subject especially for those who believe the flag stands for slavery and are very against that subject from our past as Americans. There needs to be a way of depicting if the display of the flag is positive or negative and when and where to allow it.   

Does Fake-Lynching a President Fall Within A Person’s Freedom of Speech?

On October 29th, 2016, during a UW-Madison football game at Camp Randall, there was a man found wearing a costume acting like Barack Obama was being lynched. One man wearing a prisoner outfit and a Barack Obama mask on his face, a Hillary Clinton mask on the back of his head, and a noose around his neck. The other man involved, worse normal clothes with a Donald Trump Mask on. This man was seen holding the noose up that was on the other man’s neck. The assimilated the lynching of both Clinton and Obama. In terms of this being within the two men’s freedom’s of speech and expression, it is. The only thing that is illegal to do under the context of the president is to say something. There is nothing about acting out a President’s death. Someone is not allowed to say “I want to kill the President” or “Someone should kill the President”. Doing what these men did is highly offensive, but is within their rights. The one way this could be pushed to fall outside the lines of freedom of speech is obscenity. This states that  “any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time”. Meaning, if this offended the majority of the stadium, then this act can be considered outside the boundaries of freedom of speech and expression.


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Large Corporation Donations

Freedom of speech can also be recognized as freedom of expression and when congress passed the case Citizens United v.FEC in 2002, it has since allowed large corporations to take advantage of free speech by donating to presidential candidates. Should corporate donations be protected by the 1st Amendment? According to National Review, last election many of the smaller donations were given to the smaller candidates whereas a majority of the large corporation donations were given to the bigger candidates. With corporations taking a stance and donating in their favor with higher quantities than individuals, democracy can tend to lean to the candidate with more funding than the other. When the fairness of the electoral process is affected, that should be a sign to keep this from happening.

Showing one’s support towards candidates is respectable and should be protected, although it should be regulated on the quantity of donations. According to Slate, nontraditional free speech is still free speech and can not be regulated because of the title “free speech”. Regulation on free speech only takes place in private locations and other instances, but does not affect donations. With the title free speech, the quantity of donations can not be regulated which creates a loophole. While the 1st Amendment gives us a lot of power, it is hard to decide what is too much or too little power. For these reason it is clear that money should not be recognized as free speech by giving too much power to corporations.

Works Cited:

Kairys, David. “The Misguided Theories Behind Citizens United V. FEC..” Slate Magazine. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb.2018.


Minnesotalawreview.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.


“Citizens United — 2016 Proves Its Critics Wrong | National Review.” Nationalreview.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.


Liberty or Security, How Far are We Willing to Give Up Our Freedom?

Our First Amendment arguably is the most important to us citizens of the U.S.. It gives us the freedom to say what we want and do what we want. Some examples include practicing  our own religion,  and having the right to say what’s on one’s mind. It is  clear to say as well  that many people over the span from the beginning of our country’s founding have fought and argued our First Amendment. Whether or not if it really is protecting us, either from choosing our sexuality, or to being ridiculed or harassed on racist terms. Many have stated that we need to do more to protect people from threats , or mean words, which they call  ‘Hate Speech’. The only problem is, in my mind, how much regulation and restrictions will it take for our liberty to be smeared away in replace for a whole bunch of security?

If you are one who doesn’t see a problem with more security and safety, let me remind you of some countries in the past who have done that. Such as the Soviet Union, which the people gave up many freedoms for the government to protect them and control them. Another example is many fascist societies  gave up many freedoms to protect them from enemies. Simply, there are many reasons why giving up our freedoms is bad, and to re-write  the first amendment to ban against ‘Hate Speech(which isn’t defined by the Supreme Court) might let us finally slip down the slope if we aren’t careful. I understand that people have a reason to call someone out if they are making racist comments, but if the comments aren’t fighting words(words used to incite violence), or slander, how do we decide, and protect both freedom of words and decency? The answer might be clearer than thought, because according to Paul Larkin, Senior Legal Research Fellow, “The proper way to balance security and liberty is not to balance them at all; it is to insist on policies that maximize both to the extent practicable.” So instead of trying to change the First Amendment entirely, in a way to balance safety from words to actual depending threats, we the people should separate these from the First Amendment. For it might be the stone that knocks our rights down the hill, even if it is over ‘Hate Speech’. Some Supreme Court Cases that in the past have seemed to be related to ‘Hate Speech’, are cases like Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952). Where they stated that ‘Hate Speech’ is not protected speech, but the issue is does the protection of “liberty” in the Due Process Clause prevent a state from punishing libel towards a group? The debate over this is hot, and might be the biggest thing as a nation we have to face and decide over.

In conclusion, deciding whether the people of the U.S. want more security over their liberties, is a tough and opinionated question to answer. The only thing that the people should know is a quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”



Larkin, Paul. “How Must America Balance Security and Liberty.” The Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org/homeland-security/report/how-must-america-balance-security-and-liberty.

“Beauharnais v. Illinois.” Casebriefs Beauharnais v Illinois Comments, http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/constitutional-law/constitutional-law-keyed-to-chemerinsky/first-amendment-freedom-of-expression/beauharnais-v-illinois/.

Volokh, Eugene. “Opinion | Supreme Court Unanimously Reaffirms: There Is No ‘Hate Speech’ Exception to the First Amendment.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 June 2017, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/06/19/supreme-court-unanimously-reaffirms-there-is-no-hate-speech-exception-to-the-first-amendment/?utm_term=.c5bc48f35483.