Tag Archives: first amendment

Search Engine Manipulation – or is it First Amendment Manipulation?

Is Google violating a company’s First Amendment rights when they block the company from search results if Google believes the company is engaging in search engine manipulation?

Google’s definitions of search engine optimization and search engine manipulation are similar and vague, but if it is true that search engine manipulation applies to spam with fraudulent intent, then Google is preventing criminal behavior (CAN-SPAM Act), not engaging in it. Google, its lawyers, and (ultimately) Judge Paul Magnuson argue that Google has the right to choose which results to display and in which order, just as an editor of a newspaper or magazine can choose which stories to publish and which ones to put on the front page. Some also argue that since Google is a private company, the question of First Amendment rights is irrelevant. Blocked companies aren’t being prosecuted or restricted by the government and therefore their rights are not being infringed upon.

However, if Google is, for some reason, unfairly using their search engine manipulation rules to prevent a company’s message from showing up in search results, then Google is infringing on that company’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech. Google doesn’t get to pick and choose who gets to spread messages without a legal reason. Although there are other search engines, Google is by far the most widely used. With how widespread the internet now is, many people rely almost exclusively on Google for access to information. If Google blocks that access, a company may lose its only viable way of expressing that information. Likewise, you could argue that Google is infringing your First Amendment rights by denying you access to accurate information.

As many directions as this can be argued, courts tend to side with Google in recent years.

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Does Limiting Religious Activity at School Limit Our Right To Free Speech?

Freedom of speech is arguably one of the most valued amendments for many Americans, as it separates us from many other countries in the way that we are able to speak our minds however we choose. However, there are many places where our freedom of speech is greatly restricted, a main place being our own public schools.

A Pennsylvania high school football team’s 40 year old tradition has been deemed illegal by the supreme court.  For over 40 years, Dunmore High School’s football team has spent a moment in prayer before each game. However an out-of-state organization has been weighing in and informing them that their tradition is illegal. The Freedom From Religion Foundation notified the school that public schools can not engage in religious activities such as prayer in school or at school sponsored events, such as football games.

Does limiting religious activities at schools limit our right to free speech? The supreme court states that, “Students have the right to pray individually, or in groups, or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive”. However school officials may not mandate or organize prayer, so hosting prayer at a school sponsored event is a constitutional violation. The players are therefore free to pray among themselves as long as they do not disturb others, but their coach is not allowed to partake. Because schools are not considered public forums, those who work for the school must be sure not to take sides on anything political or religious as to not sway the views of their students. The goal of this restriction of freedom of speech is not to limit students freedom or to repress them from participating in religious activities, it is to protect students from being persuaded by the views of their teachers, coaches and other school workers. Therefore public schools do not restrict the freedom of speech for those attending, but freedom of speech is restricted for those who are employed by the school.

 

Works Cited

NCAC Staff (July 10, 2013. ) The First Amendment In Schools : A Public Guide retrieved from http://ncac.org/resource/first-amendment-in-schools#firstamendpublicschools

ACLU Staff. Joint Statement of Current Law on Religion in the Public Schools https://www.aclu.org/other/joint-statement-current-law-religion-public-schools

FFRF Staff ( September 21, 2017 ) FFRF ensures religion-free Ala. football games https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/30327-ffrf-ensures-religion-free-ala-football-games

 

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.

Dis is my Blog

Should donating to a certain politician be covered by symbolic speech? Symbolic Speech is seen as a representation of one’s beliefs or messages in the form of nonverbal communication.  In this instance, donating money politicians is considered speech because the  money you donate displays support to a politicians. Meaning the more money you donate, the more you support the candidate.  I think donations to a certain political candidate shouldn’t be covered by the First Amendment. In an article written by Deena Zaru she talks to Emily Tisch Sussman, a Campaigns Director for Center for American Progress Action Fund. The article is about the Supreme Court ruling that private citizens can contribute as they would like. Sussman says, “ the ruling is problematic because candidates will be less concerned with serving the public and more focused on courting a few wealthy citizens who could fund their campaigns”. I agree with Sussman, because if you were take the money out of politics, people would vote for the person who they like the best. Instead of it being about how much money each candidate can raise it should be about politics. In the article How Citizens United Has Changed Politics in 5 Year it says, “ a recent analysis of the 2014 Senate races by the Brennan Center for Justice found outside spending more than doubled since 2010, to $486 Million. Outside groups provided 47 percent of total spending more than the candidates’ 41”.  The fact that outside spending groups are providing more money then the actual candidates should be reason enough alone to have this type of symbolic speech be not covered by the First Amendment.

 

Deena Zaru. “Are political donations a form of free speech? – CNNPolitics.” CNN. 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2018. <https://www.cnn.com/2015/02/19/politics/sotu-fec-mccutcheon-scotus-political-donations-free-speech/index.html>

N.a. “Symbolic Speech – constitution | Laws.com.” Constitution.laws.com. n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2018. <https://constitution.laws.com/the-supreme-court/symbolic-speech>

 

Does Banning Books Violate One’s First Amendment Right?

When it comes to banning books, many schools are continuing to ban more and more books. Though there may be fair reasoning to have some of these books banned, it can go against freedom of press, making banning books unjust, unless it is an obscenity. I believe some books that are banned are clearly meet the limit of being an obscenity, but sometimes they it really doesn’t meet the definition. Cornell law describes an obscenity laws as,prohibiting lewd, filthy, or disgusting words or pictures,” but they also mention, “Indecent materials or depictions, normally speech or artistic expressions, may be restricted in terms of time, place, and manner, but are still protected by the First Amendment.” Books like Harry Potter and Where’s Waldo really have no, just reason to be banned, especially when you tie it with definition. This violates the freedom of the press because you are prohibiting authors of their right to freedom of the press for no reason. But, I do believe there are certain cases where it is best to ban a book.

Only some books should be banned, only when they follow this definition of obscenity, and it isn’t appropriate for the age group reading it. Having read several books on the “Banned Book List” I know that some books on that list have no reason to be on there, but others are best to be deemed “okay” to have in schools base off of age, making it fair for them to be banned. When it comes to books such as The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird, banning them or not should probably fluctuate based on age. Even though it isn’t discussed in the constitution or seen as a limit, there can be fair arguments for not wanting certain ages to read certain books. In the book The Color Purple, right away in the book there is a graphic rape described. As the rest of the book continues, there is a lot of important historical context and lessons that happen throughout, making it important for someone to read, but with the graphic rape in the beginning, and a few more scenes throughout, it’s best to put an age restriction on it because you don’t want someone reading it at a young age, making the definition of obscenity fluctuate based on age. Though I think To Kill a Mockingbird should not be banned, due to its high use of the “n word”, some disagree. In no way am I condoning the “n word”, but I believe it’s an important, and dark part of our history that shouldn’t be forgotten, but something we are taught, and we learn from. To Kill a Mockingbird does this in a way that describes life during that time, and someone can actually learn through a fictional story, vs. out of a textbook, what life was like. Having people in elementary and middle school read it, can be deemed worthy needing it to be banned because they don’t understand the time as well, but people in high school are almost adults, and need to learn about that part of history in a further context, and they should understand the context of that word, raising the argument that obscenities definition should fluctuate based on the age reading the book. When it comes to freedom of press, there are certain limits to it, and sometimes those limits vary, based on certain factors. Books are a learning tool for all who read them, and when it comes to banning them or not, books should not be banned unless it’s deemed an obscenity for the age group reading it, not because of personal reasons in order to follow The Constitution, the highest law of the land.

Sources

“Banned & Challenged Classics.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N. p., 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2018

“Obscenity.” LII / Legal Information Institute. N. p., 2018. Web. 12 Feb. 2018.

 

Hate Speech: Should it be Covered Under the First Amendment?

As stated by the constitution, the First Amendment applies that it is illegal to make laws that limit one’s freedom of speech or religion, yet where is can that line being crossed? Many people are capable of determining right from wrong, yet hate speech is still viable in the world today. Frequently on debate, one side claims that hate speech is covered under the First Amendment, while others believe it is both harmful and only causes problems.

According to American cognitive linguist and philosopher, George P. Lakoff, he states in his article, Why Hate Speech Is Not Free, “Like violence, hate speech can also be a physical imposition on the freedom of others. This is because language has a psychological effect imposed physically – on the neural system, with long-term crippling effects.” Essentially, Lakoff is imposing that hate speech can do the same damage as violence. For example, a racial slur can be as hurtful as getting slapped in the face. Continuing in his article, Lakoff states “… hate speech imposes on the freedom of those targeted by the hate. Sense being free in a free society requires not imposing on the freedom of others, hate speech does not fall under the category of free speech.” After reading Lakoff’s article, it seems that we can connect hate speech and fighting words due to the fact that they both can incite or bring harm upon others.

On the other side of the debate, hate speech is a form of freedom of expression which is covered by the First Amendment. In the court case of Matal v. Tam, the patent and trademark office denied a band wanting to be called “the slants” due to the derogatory term used in their name that can be offensive to Asian-Americans. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled a firm 8 to 0 decision in favor of the name, indicating that hate speech is covered under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court of the United States chose that it is important to protect the people’s right to freedom of expression instead of eliminating a term that could be hurtful to others.

In conclusion, hate speech is intentionally covered by the First Amendment under the case of freedom of expression, yet I believe that it should not be covered at all. Hate speech is crossing the line when a statement or action brings hurt and shame to another person or group. By allowing this type of expression, the constitution is essentially creating happiness for the bully or speaker. Why would you allow someone to hurtfully disagree with others in a free society where you are suppose to encourage other ideas? By allowing such harmful actions take place in our world today, clearly no benefits could possibly come from such commotion.

 

Work Cited:

 

https://georgelakoff.com/2017/09/08/why-hate-speech-is-not-free-speech/

 

https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/06/slants-supreme-court-matal-v-tam-decision-protects-free-speech/

 

https://kids.laws.com/first-amendment

 

https://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=.19520e18aad1

Does Hurtful Also Mean Harmful?

Does protesting an unpopular opinion violate the peaceable assembly clause of the First Amendment?

People in America have had the right to assemble since the constitution was put into place.  These protest have made great change in our society. For example peaceable assemblies have gotten us women’s rights, African american rights and many others. The library of congress states, “The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the First Amendment protects the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly.  The right to assemble is not, however, absolute.  Government officials cannot simply prohibit a public assembly in their own discretion, but the government can impose restrictions on the time, place, and manner of peaceful assembly, provided that constitutional safeguards are met.”(1).

There are many cases of people protesting their own opinions near soldiers funeral locations. This act is completely covered by the First Amendment in the Constitution as long as the protests are staying peaceful. The fact of the matter is that these events are trying to show that there are other opinions out there. They are protesting at these specific events because, “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the attendant casualties, are divine punishment for America’s acceptance of lesbian and gay rights.”(2). Just because this might be something you agree with or do not does not mean they cannot protest. There were people trying to make sure the protesters had rules they needed to follow such as, being 300 feet away from the cemetery or being prohibited to protest 2 hours before the funeral. Such rules are not allowed by the supreme court and could leave you liable to be sued.

Although protesting an unpopular opinion is not deemed wrong it may hurt and affect the lives of many. There protesters that are standing with signs are soldiers funerals were in no wrong but that does not mean they aren’t affecting these families. People are coming to lay their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers or whoever they loved and lost down to rest. This was someone fighting for our country, protecting the citizens of the U.S. I feel as if it is not appropriate. Although it is legal, it can deeply scar and hurt the memories of people severely.

  1. Winston, Andrew M. “Right to Peaceful Assembly: United States.” Library of Congress, 1 Oct. 2014, www.loc.gov/law/help/peaceful-assembly/us.php.
  2. “Even Vile Funeral Protests Are Free Speech.” CNN, 8 Aug. 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/08/opinion/rottman-aclu-funerals-free-speech/.
  3. Lusk, Ashlon. “Opinion: Super Bowl Fans Uncontrollable, Expose Importance of Peaceful Protest.” LSU Now, The Daily Reveille, 19 Feb. 2018, http://www.lsunow.com/daily/opinion-super-bowl-fans-uncontrollable-expose-importance-of-peaceful-protest/article_5ce4d732-120e-11e8-b71f-d78cf03d7892.html.