Tag Archives: censorship

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;.

Censorship in schools

By definition censorship is, the removal, suspension, or restricted circulation of literary, artistic, or educational materials. Most parents want censorship in schools, because they don’t want their children being taught the exact opposite of what they preach at home. Also many people believe that young kids aren’t good at making decisions for themselves and they don’t always know right from wrong. So schools need to have censorship to filter out all the bad stuff and only teach students good values. Censorship gives parents peace of mind and shape the minds of our youth.  

There are still plenty of people who don’t like the idea of censorship in schools. Lots of people believe that censorship isn’t allowing students to form their own ideas. If you don’t allow students to form their own ideas then it’s hard for society to have different views on things. The court system would have to agree with these people, they tend to vote with the schools most of the time limiting censorship in schools and allowing students to become free thinkers. As long as schools don’t cross any religious boundaries, or are trying to push political views on students then the court will allow it.

“Censorship in Schools Pros and Cons List.” NYLN.org. N.p., 14 Jan. 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

“Censorship in the Schools.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N.p., 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

“Education World: Banning Books from the Classroom: How to Handle Cries for Censorship.” Education World: Banning Books from the Classroom: How to Handle Cries for Censorship. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Schools Teaching but Not Upholding First Amendment Rights

Topic: School Censorship

Essential Question: Does schools regulating and censoring students’ speech violate the freedom of speech limits to the First Amendment?

Under the First Amendment the government must respect citizens’ right to express themselves; however, under the school speech doctrine, student’s constitutional right to freedom of speech can be suppressed by school authorities. The school’s ability to put limitations on students’ freedom of speech has been challenged countlessly and from many different aspects on the issue such as illegal drug promotion, political speech, hate speech, and religious speech.   The countless cases of discontent with the suppression is due to the court’s inadequate guidelines determining whether schools’ policies violate the constitution.  Due to this, the majority of schools lack knowledge about their limitations to restrict  students’ freedom of speech and rather focus on implementing restrictions to maintain order, avoid controversy, and minimize criticism from the community over promoting students’ rights while creating regulations.  This leads to the primary question.  Should schools value avoiding controversy and disruption over promoting students to practice their constitutional right?

In the  Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier court case, Kuhlmeier argued that the school violated the First Amendment by not publishing an article discussing teen pregnancy.  Kuhlmeier’s argument did not hold up in court. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment rights of students in schools are not coextensive with the rights of adults outside of public schools and ultimately “educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities, so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.”  Since the article was written in a journalism class, apart of the school’s curriculum, the principal was able to deny publication with the reasoning that the pregnant students might have been able to be identified and would have later caused controversy and harm to those students.  The article also discussed sexual activities and birth control, which the principle deemed as inappropriate for the younger kids who attended that school.  Ultimately, by restricting students’ freedom of speech, in this case, allowed the community to avoid controversy and protect the well being and safety of other students at school.

On the other hand, the court case of Zachary Guiles rejected the school’s authorities to restrict Zachary’s First Amendment right to express his political views on a shirt despite the presence of alcohol and illegal drugs on his shirt.  Since the shirt was not encouraging the use of illegal drugs nor alcohol, which is prohibited in schools, but rather using them to convey, in Zachary’s opinion, the inadequacy and stupidity of the president, in the end, the school could not restrict Zachary from wearing the shirt at school because schools do not hold the right to censor political views of students if there is no disruption in the education process.  Since Zachary had wore this shirt many times before without any disruption and the only concern regarding the shirt were the drugs portrayed, the court could not ban his shirt from schools.  This ruling allowed for students to be able to practice their First Amendment right by promoting them to express their views politically.

Ultimately, I believe that schools should minimize their authority to restrict student’s First Amendment rights to better prepare them for the real world.  Schools should only use their power to avoid evident disruption in the classroom and harm such as bullying, encouraging of unsafe practices, and abusive speech.  Schools should encourage a safe environment where students are able to express their views regardless of the popular belief and use it to promote a better society in and out of the classroom by provoking thoughtful and open-minded conversations between students.

 

Censorship and Education

The 1st amendment of the United States Constitution addresses the issues of freedom of expression and the limitations government has when it comes to acting against the expressions of the public. According to the first amendment, government is not allowed to show  bias towards a religion or belief and are not allowed to stop a person’s right to speak out about their values .  One of the limiting powers  of the government is that they are allowed to censor media and information from the public if under the proper context.  Does censorship  desecrate the freedom of expression? Or does it not hinder it at all?

 

According to  an article entitled “ National Coalition Against Censorship” By the NACA censorship is defined as “ suppression of an image or idea because it offends or disturbs someone, or they disagree with it.  This states that media can be censored if it offends or bothers someone, however this raises another question. What are the limits when it comes to offensive or disturbing material? And how do they decide if something needs to be censored or if it should stay?   The IRA defines the difference in the following quote “   There is an important distinction between  selection based on professional guidelines and what censorship actually entails.  “ The goal of censorship  is to remove, eliminate or bar particular materials or methods.  The goal of professional guidelines is to provide criteria for  the selection of those materials or methods”.

 

Censorship also plays a  role in the education system.  An article entitled “ The Student’s Right to  Read”  by the NCTE, states that “ students and parents have the right to demand that education today keep students in reality with the world outside the classroom.  Since this a right of the parents and student why are books that are deemed to realistic or vulgar removed from the educational system.  Another thing to consider is the responsibilities of an english teacher. The specific responsibilities are highlighted  as the following “  Literature classes  should reflect the cultural contributions  of many minority groups in the United States”     
Censorship does not just impact literature in school but also can hinder the quality and impact on education.  How this affects students  is shown in the following excerpt  “   Censorship leaves students with  an inadequate and  distorted  picture of the ideals, values and problems in their culture.  Writers and authors have alot of power when it comes to the ability to impact students when it comes to sensitive or emotional content. Writers can distort or inaccurately portray a culture or value or they can paint an overly graphic image of a culture or idea.  Censorship can protect the public from sensitive media but in the end does it have a negative effect on students when they enter the real world? That’s for you to decide for yourself, as for me, I think it affects us more than we realize.

Do You Speak through the Internet, or Does the Internet Speak for You?

Almost everyone has heard of net neutrality, but few truly understand the breadth of the issue. Simply, net neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from limiting access to certain websites or promoting their own content or sponsored content. In her article Court Backs Rules Treating Internet As Utility, Not LuxuryCecilia Kang explains that in June of 2016, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the internet is a utility, which allowed the government to enact net neutrality.

Proponents of net neutrality believe that it protects the consumer by ensuring that he or she has access to all content on the internet. The court’s ruling of the internet as a utility makes the internet a tool for people to express their ideas not for the internet to project its own ideas. In this way, net neutrality protects the consumers’  First Amendment rights.

However, others argue that net neutrality violates the Internet Service Providers’ right to free speech. According to the ISPs, internet providers should be able to regulate speeds of websites in order to express their ideas. A group of broadband companies, including the small ISP Alamo, filed a lawsuit against the FCC to challenge net neutrality. The article How Net Neutrality Violates the First Amendment by Jon Brodkin explains the companies’ claims, “with prioritization, broadband providers convey a message by ‘favoring’ certain speech – that prioritized content is superior – because it is delivered faster”.

Some claim that the FCC does not have the power to restrict ISPs’ speech. However, one exception to the First Amendment is prior restraint, which states that only the US government has the right to prevent material from being published. Therefore, one can argue that it is unlawful for ISPs to block or to slow websites as that is a form of censorship, which is not protected under the First Amendment.

The debate surrounding net neutrality boils down to one essential issue: whose rights are more valid – the ISP’s or the consumers’?

Works Cited
Brodkin, Jon. “How Net Neutrality Violates the First Amendment (according to One ISP).” Ars Technica. WIRED Media Group, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
Furchtgott-Roth, Harold. “Net Neutrality Violates First Amendment.” Hudson Institute. Hudson Institute, 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
Kang, Cecilia. “Court Backs Rules Treating Internet As Utility, Not Luxury.” New York Times 15 June 2016: n. pag. Print.
Manne, Geoffrey A., and R. Ben Sperry. “How to Break the Internet.” Reason May 2015: 20-28. SIRS Issues Reasearcher. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Free Speech Restrictions on Public Employees

Does restrictions on free speech of public employees violate symbolic speech limits to the First Amendment?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says 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.” Whether the first amendment applies to one as a worker, it depends on if one is a public employee or privately owned business employee. The first amendment only protects those who work for the federal government, for example, school teachers and police officers. This means that if a private employer is to demote or fire an employee for supporting a particular political view, the employee cannot sue in retaliation. However, as for public employees, they are protected under this right, however there are restrictions. Do these restrictions violate the freedom of speech rights of the public employees?

There are arguments that claim that these restrictions are infringing on the rights of public employees. Some workers claim that certain phrases they say are just part of their job. The Supreme Court rules whether what a public employee says based on if they said it as a citizen or for public concern. For example, there was a case Belyeu v. Coosa County Board of Education where a teacher brought up that the school should have a tribute for Black History Month during a PTA meeting. The teacher was then scolded for raising the idea up publicly, instead of to the principle privately. At the end of the year the teachers are expected to put in their resignations, as the positions changed year to year. Every teacher in the student aide section who sought employment at the school, except for Belyeu, were rehired. Belyeu filed an action against the Coosa County Board of Education, the members of the board in their official and individual capacities, and superintendent Hardman, alleging that, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Title VII), the School System refused to rehire her because of her speech at the February PTA meeting and based on her gender. A lower court ruled that while the idea did relate to public concern, the school wanted to keep racial tensions from forming. The higher court overruled this because the case did not disrupt school nor did it racially divide the students (the context of her words were not going to either). In another case, a police officer was seen holding a campaign sign for a mayor. The police officer was seen holding the sign, which he was delivering to his bedridden mother. The false accusation of the police officer resulted in him receiving a demotion in order to prevent him from further voicing his views. The officer then decided to sue in retaliation for the supervisors false perceptions. The lower courts ruled that he could not sue because the supervisor was not infringing on his rights, because he had not practiced them in the first place. Higher courts then ruled and strengthened the free speech rules, arguing that an employee can sue in retaliation for engaging in protected political engagement. Public employees are prohibited from expressing matters that will potentially upset or sway others (politics/personal opinions) unless it is a matter of public concern, or are for the good of the community. Public employees may express their views as a citizen, only when they are not at work.

The answer is yes and no. While as a citizen we are all entitled to free speech and expression, at work we do not. The government has restrictions on all aspects of free speech. The idea is not to just limit what people can say, and be able to fire or demote them if they do. Putting restrictions on what people say at work is to keep people, especially school students, from being swayed from one political campaigner or party. It is for keeping certain topics from segregating or upsetting people. It is just like students at school, while we are able to say as we please, we have restrictions on what we can say to keep foulness and others from getting upset by hate speech or swear words. As a citizen, we are able to freely practice free speech and express ourselves as we wish. Public employees are still free to say as they wish, just more censored than they would if they were on their own walking down the street, or in their own home. While restrictions do technically violate free speech, it also does not because there needs to be guidelines to keep work and schools working together and efficiently.

Burn Baby Burn

Is the burning of the American Flag protected by the first amendment freedom of speech, or is it seen as obscenity? Burning of the American Flag, or any flag, is seen as a way to protest your government, and tell them that they are doing a bad job. This argument just got re-ignited recently due to Trump being elected as president and he threatened, “ loss of citizenship or a year in jail!” if you were caught burning the flag. This issue has been challenged multiple times in the U.S Supreme Court. Once  In the 1989 case “Texas V Johnson” and again in 2005 when Clinton tried to pass the Flag Protection act.

People feel very strongly against flag burning as you can see here. People, including the president, love the first amendment (freedom of speech to be exact), but burning of the flag is often seen as a whole different idea. A lot of citizens take the burning of the flag as a way to disrespect all of the countless lives that were lost defending the flag. Others argue that you are abusing freedom of speech by burning an object that gives you that right in this country. Finally, my personal opinion is that the flag is seen as a sacred object to the U.S and it should be illegal. You shouldn’t be thrown in jail, just get a huge fine for burning the flag.

On the other side, it is protected under the first amendment freedom of speech. The burning of the flag has been tested twice in court and 2 laws have tried to have been passed to outlaw the burning. In 1989, the case of “Texas V Johnson” occurred. The supreme Court ruled 5-4 that flag burning was a form of “symbolic speech” which was protected by the First Amendment. Gregory Johnson was convicted by a Texas court of violating  state law that didn’t allow “ desecration of a venerated object” . The next year, another case came up. “United States v Eichman”, where again the Supreme Court affirmed the right to burn the Flag. In 1989 George H Bush tried to pass Flag Protection Act and it was ruled unconstitutional. Again in 2005 Hilary Clinton tried to pass another Flag Protection Act and it too was denied. Many argue that if you make flag burning illegal, where does it stop? It could destroy our democracy.

In conclusion, this is a very debatable subject where people feel strongly on both sides.  Burning the flag is seen wrong by many, but it is protected by our own constitution, and it is hard to argue against that. Ask yourself, what would you do to protest?