Tag Archives: censorship

Social Media is Free Speech

Social media is so popular these days and is so versatile it can be used so many different ways. There are many positive aspects to social media, but a major debate over social media has always been about where the first amendment fits into all of it. The big question that everyone is talking about is if the government should be able to regulate what is being said and posted on social media.
The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” To me, freedom of speech means that people have the right to say whatever they want whenever they want. Even though I believe lots of people choose to abuse this right and use it as a way to hurt people, it is still our rights as U.S. citizens to say whatever we want. Social media is just a part of this. The use of language can be more strong on social media because it is through a screen and not face to face. I think this is where most of the problems arise and where some people want social media to be regulated because lots of people share hateful and offensive thoughts online. Some people believe others should not have the right to say such horrible things online, and while I agree with that concept, I also acknowledge that the first amendment was created so people to speak their minds freely and have their opinions be heard. If the government were to regulate everything that was put on social media, it would cause people to become closed off and scared to share their views and opinions.
The U.S. is one country that grants its citizens the right to say whatever they want about whatever they want and I choose to look at that as a blessing instead of a curse. Despite the fact that some people abuse the first amendment and choose to use it as a weapon of hate instead of a way to heal and bring people joy and happiness, I do not believe that the government should be allowed to regulate everything put on social media. Social media is a creative output for so many people and a way for people to get their ideas heard. If the government is looking over everyone’s shoulder all the time, then they are taking away people’s voices because they will be too afraid to speak their minds.

Citations:

Karentay. “How Should Governments Regulate Facebook and Other Social Media Platforms? Proposing A New Paradigm to Regulation.” Technology and Public Good, 24 Oct. 2017, techandpublicgood.com/2017/10/24/how-should-governments-regulate-facebook-and-other-social-media-platforms-proposing-a-new-paradigm-to-regulation/.

“First Amendment – U.S. Constitution.” Findlaw, constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html.

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Is censorship in schools an example of Obscenity?

Topic:  Censorship

Essential Question: Is censorship in schools an example of Obscenity?

 

The school system is very strict of what they can or can’t show you. There are all kinds of censorship that the the school system portrays on the student body. “Teachers, principals, and school administrators make decisions all the time about which books and materials to retain, add or exclude from the curriculum”. “As the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and International Reading Association (IRA) note, there is an important distinction between selection based on professional guidelines and censorship: ‘Whereas the goal of censorship is to remove, eliminate or bar particular materials and methods, the goal of professional guidelines is to provide criteria for selection of materials and methods’.” When a book has swearing or bad words in it, but it’s used for educational purposes does that make it obscenity? There were lots of books that were banned from schools all around America when it is really showing us students how life was at that time in the past. When teaching the english language we need to have examples of both the good and the bad. When dealing with American history the best way to teach us it not filter out everything. There was a time the Supreme Court considered whether a local school board violated the constitution by removing books from the school library, it was held that the right to receive ideas is a necessary predicate to the recipient ‘s meaningful exercise of their own rights of speech, press, and political freedom.  Most censorship of materials and restrictions are commonly prompted by public complaints causing the library board or school administration to be mindful of the importance of their neighbor’s religious values, moral sensibilities, and protecting children from offensive materials. So really the ordinary citizens are the driving force behind the challenges to the internet, information, and ideas. Even though there will always be controversy on school censorship, I know that it is an example of obscenity that needs to come to a mutual agreement in the future.

 

Us, About et al. “The First Amendment In Schools: Censorship.” National Coalition Against Censorship. N. p., 2018. Web. 18 Feb. 2018.How does the first amendment protect what teachers say in the classroom? http://ncac.org/resource/the-first-amendment-in-schools-censorship

“First Amendment And Censorship.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N. p., 2008. Web. 18 Feb. 2018. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/censorship

How do schools decide which books to censor, and which to put on shelves?

Books are banned for many reasons, some are good reasons, others not so good of reasons. One example of a reason to ban a book is that of the language that is used and being inappropriate for a curriculum, like in the book To Kill a Mockingbird. Parents are trying to get the book removed from the English curriculum at Monona Grove High School because it uses a racial slur 48 times.(4) The parents feel that it’s racial harassment by having African-American students read the book and that there are different books that teach the same topics in a more contemporary way.(4) The school decided to keep the book in the curriculum on a 4-1 vote. In this example they kept the book on the shelf because the school decided that they “believe in telling the truth” and “students can make up their own minds.”(5).

A different example, with a book that’s actually banned, was Catcher in the Rye. Many schools have banned this book for the profanity on its own, let alone to the other actions the main character does as well as his comments about people commonly discriminated against. Although a classic, schools do still obtain the right to remove a book from its’ shelves or its’ curriculum if it believes the book is to be too inappropriate for students to read(3). Which in this case, a fair amount of schools found it too inappropriate, in Illinois a school banned it for alcohol abuse, and in South Dakota, a school banned it for its’ sexual practice.(6). 

I think schools obtain the right to ban books but only if it’s actually a problem or inappropriate. For example, wanting to remove To Kill a Mocking Bird from the curriculum because you believe it’s wrong for African-American students to read, I can understand that. But that book goes across some racial issues and to solve problems you have to talk about them first.

Sources:

5 Notable Banned-Book Cases for Banned Books Week(3)

“5 Notable Banned-Book Cases For Banned Books Week.” NWSidebar. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2018. -Used to read about a case that, in a way, set a bar for banning books

https://nwsidebar.wsba.org/2014/09/26/banned-books-week/

Journal, K.(4)

Journal, Karen. “Charging Racism, Cottage Grove Parents Want Harper Lee Book Barred From Classroom.” madison.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 16 Feb. 2018. 

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/charging-racism-cottage-grove-parents-want-harper-lee-book-barred/article_422a6b7c-562f-5876-aca8-1c7faf5f4dec.html

-Used 4 and 5 for information about the ruling of To Kill a Mocking Bird

Committee votes to keep ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ in class curriculum(5)

“Committee Votes To Keep ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ In Class Curriculum.” WISC. N. p., 2018. Web. 17 Feb. 2018.

https://www.channel3000.com/news/committee-votes-to-keep-to-kill-a-mockingbird-in-class-curriculum/701223913

Why?, W.(6)

Why?, Who. “Who Banned Catcher In The Rye And Why? | Academic About Movies/Music/Tv, Pop Culture/Trends, School/College And Social Issues/Civics.” Teenink.com. N. p., 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2018. -Used this to read about why Catcher in the Rye was banned.

http://www.teenink.com/nonfiction/academic/article/512353/Who-Banned-Catcher-in-the-Rye-and-Why/

What do you believe should be censored in our school?

Censorship in school is very controversial subject that could violate our obscenity limits under the First Amendment, everyone has different opinions and there is a very thin line on what is acceptable to some and what isn’t. Obscenity can be defined as something you know that is wrong when you see it, based on community standards. There have been many cases where students believe their rights are being violated by the school for not allowing them to wear or speak on something they believe in. One example is the Tinker vs. Des Moines case where about 4 students wore black armbands to school to protest the war and the school told them to take them off or go home. When they didn’t take them off they got suspended and were fighting that their rights were violated. The court ruled that school officials could not censor speech or actions unless it was disruptive or hurtful to others and in this case a plain black armband did not. This case is a huge point for future students and knowing what is right and what is wrong in the school setting. On the other hand, there are many parents that are concerned on what is happening in our schools and if it is too obscene. There are many fighting in Mississippi and even here at our school to get To Kill a Mockingbird removed from our curriculum because it is seen as offensive and hurtful to children of a young age. This book is supposed to make you uncomfortable and initiate discussion on how these situations they went through in the book are wrong. Censorship should be based on the schools rules and if a parent does not want their child reading a book they should be allowed a different option but it should not be taken away for everyone. I believe that schools should come together with students and make rules about what is obscene based on the setting and decide what they should censor. I think if we all agreed we wouldn’t have problems with the First Amendment and what is allowed and what isn’t. In the end it is hard to come to a conclusion on these problems because everyone has different beliefs on what should be allowed in school.

References

American Civil Liberties Union. (2018). Tinker v. Des Moines – Landmark Supreme Court Ruling on Behalf of Student Expression. [online] Available at: https://www.aclu.org/other/tinker-v-des-moines-landmark-supreme-court-ruling-behalf-student-expression [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

NBC News. (2018). Opinion | Why do we still teach ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in schools?. [online] Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/why-are-we-still-teaching-kill-mockingbird-schools-ncna812281 [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

STUART TAYLOR Jr., S. (2018). Court Hears School Censorship Case. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/14/us/court-hears-school-censorship-case.html [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

United States Courts. (2018). Facts and Case Summary – Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. [online] Available at: http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-hazelwood-v-kuhlmeier [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

The First Amendment Exists, But Does Hate Speech?

Hate speech is a subject that appears to be easy to define. One may assume that hate speech is any kind of racially or religiously hateful slander. In actuality, it is much more.  Hate speech is hard to define, some people even argue that it cannot be defined. After all, one person’s hate speech is another person’s beliefs.

            Before we can define hate speech, we need to first debate whether or not it should be protected. Looking at a case in December of 2012 in Haywood county North Carolina may help shed some light on both sides1. When confederate flags were removed from the monument outside of the capitol building, a group called “The Sons of Confederate Veterans” got a hold of a lawyer, and looked for war. They claimed that they were not a hateful group looking for trouble. Their motive is to remember their ancestors who died fighting for their beliefs. The county finds the flags offensive and hateful however. Even though the flags don’t cause harm, and are 100% constitutional, should they be considered unconstitutional?

             But what about when hate speech can incite violence? Many people argue that hate speech can do nothing other than incite violence. It wasn’t found unconstitutional when a “White lives matter” rally was shut down on the Texas A&M campus in 20172Rallies like these can only bring harm to a campus and the people in the neighboring town, which is exactly why this one was shut down. 

             So what exactly should we do? If we were to deem hate speech unconstitutional, we could be safer from incited violence. If we allowed it, the citizens of america could freely express their opinion, a privilege not often seen elsewhere. But what would we define hate speech as? Unfortunately, we will never truly be able to identify hate speech, but we can tell what is hurtful. Instead on focusing on defining an undefinable problem, we should focus on creating a country where equality is not only enforced, but encouraged, where all people have the right to grow and speak together.

Continue reading The First Amendment Exists, But Does Hate Speech?

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

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

Sources:

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=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</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=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.