Tag Archives: censorship

Offensive Speech in Universities

When can universities censor students without violating free speech and the First Amendment?

Universities have always had a set of standards separate from the outside world. What might be acceptable on the streets could land a student in Dean of Students’ office. For example, flipping another driver off as he/she cuts you off does not have any repercussions and is actually seen quite often. On the other hand, a student giving their teacher the bird for not bumping their grade up will almost certainly result in consequences. Universities are allowed to do this without violating freedom of expression because they have a different set of community standards. Classrooms are a place for education and not much else, so something offensive that lies outside of this realm could be considered an obscenity. If it is preventing students from successfully learning, then the phrase or expression is obscene. The outside world does that not have this standard because it is solely devoted to learning. However, lately universities all around the country have been censoring a little too much.

A study done by Spiked Magazine released a ranking for schools in the UK highlighting which universities censored free speech the most. The report revealed that a majority of schools has “banned and actively censored” students’ free speech. In addition, Tom Slater, an editor for Spiked Magazine, revealed what some of the schools are banning. One school, he said, “Banned sombreros, and other such ‘racist’ attire”. Even groups centered around controversial debates such as abortion have been banned on campus, and students are upset. Many feel as though their freedom of speech has been violated by their universities. Although some opinions and words might be offensive, a lot of what universities censor can be used as an educational opportunity. One said that he is a “firm believer that the best way to challenge an idea is to discuss”. Universities are a place to learn not censor.

Although certain actions or words do need to be censored in the classroom, universities should not be censoring anything that seems mildly offensive. As long as it does not prevent students from learning successfully, it should not be banned. Just because something is offensive, does not mean it can not be discussed professionally and educationally. By toning down the amount of censorship, students might even be able to understand each other more effectively and create better environments within the school.

Works Cited:

“The suppression of free speech on university campuses is reaching epidemic levels; It’s easy to laugh at students who try to ban sombreros or applause, but new free speech rankings show how their censorious megalomania is getting out of hand.” Telegraph Online, 3 Feb. 2015. Student Resources in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A400023226/SUIC?u=mono131514&xid=48fd105e. Accessed 14 Feb. 2018.

“‘Why I’m no longer looking forward to university’; Supression of free speech has transformed universities into a much less exciting prospect for sixth form students, writes Carl du Jeu.” Telegraph Online, 24 July 2015. Student Resources in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A423008194/SUIC?u=mono131514&xid=ee9f24f6. Accessed 14 Feb. 2018.

 

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To Kill A Mockingbird is being challenged!

Should To Kill a Mockingbird be banned from schools?

There are schools that believe that To Kill a Mockingbird should be banned from reading. A school district in Mississippi didn’t like how the book used racial issues and how it deals with civil rights. There are numerous instances in which it uses racial slurs about the black community. There was backlash but it was decided that the book would stay in the library. Some say that they could get the same message across using a different book and it has been constantly challenged since 1960, when it was released. Arne Duncan, president Obama’s former secretary of education, said that “When school districts remove ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from the reading list, we know we have real problems.”.

When it comes down to the 1st Amendment, the right to read for example, all students should be able to read To Kill A mockingbird, even if it has racial slurs. Some parents may want this gone as it is offensive to the black community but as Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Senator, put it, “Engaged parents should call the school district with the clear message: Our kids are tough enough to read a real book.”  There some reasons to remove the book from the 8th grade reading curriculum, but as it stands, it will most likely stay as a shared story in our schools.

Works Cited:

“’To Kill a Mockingbird’ Banned at Mississippi School.” Time, Time, time.com/4983786/biloxi-mississippi-school-ban-to-kill-a-mockingbird/.
Nelson, Karen. “Why Did Biloxi Pull ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from the 8th Grade Lesson Plan?”Sunherald, The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com/news/local/counties/jackson-county/article178572326.html.

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.

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.

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