Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech

PRAYERS BEFORE FOOTBALL GAMES CROSSING THE LINE OR NOT?

Praying before sporting events is nothing new in our country, especially for football teams. Others and organizations, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are saying that these coaches are breaking the law. The First Amendment allows everyone to freely exercise their religion and also allows everyone the right to freely express themselves. So the controversy is where the line is drawn, and to the extent that these freedoms go.

The line between what should and shouldn’t be allowed in freedom of religion and speech can sometimes be a confusing one. Teams and more specifically coaches, typically like to pray before games. Often asking for strength, courage, and that players remain healthy throughout the game. But coaches and schools are coming under fire for it, saying that they are violating the First Amendment for imposing their religion on students. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has not only gone after Dunmore High School, but another high school in Birmingham, Alabama, for praying before football games. They say that, “Public school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.” In their letter however, they fail to ask if any students have had any complaints about it, considering they are the ones who would be effected. Unless a student has told their coach, teacher, or school that they are offended by this prayer and asked that it be stopped, it doesn’t seem like it’s doing any harm. Sen. Lankford says, “Gratitude to God is certainly not a crime in America.” The only problem that could come from praying before a game would be if a student feels peer pressured to join in and not speak out against it. Although they always have the choice to not participate in the prayer as well.

The line for freedom of religion and speech for praying before games is definitely on the border. I don’t believe that it should be banned however, unless a student asks for it to be. Although since they have the option to not participate, I believe that others should be allowed to pray and practice their religion for the brief time before a football game.

Sources:

Wertheimer, Linda K. “Opinion | Why You Shouldn’t Defend a High School Coach Praying on His Football Field.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Oct. 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/29/why-you-shouldnt-defend-a-high-school-coach-praying-on-his-football-field/?utm_term=.64aa0bb5a937.

“Alabama High School Told to Halt Prayers before Football Games.” Fox News, FOX News Network, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/26/alabama-high-school-told-to-halt-prayers-before-football-games.html.

 

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Public Employees and Their Free Speech.

Topic: Free speech rights for public employees

Essential Question: What is classified as free speech for the public employee?

Free speech is something that people are constantly debating and will continue to debate for a long time. When it comes to public employees the Courts currently employ a three-part test to determine whether a government employee’s speech is protected by the First Amendment. The first part is government employees are only protected by the First Amendment when they are speaking as private citizens. If their speech is part of their official job duties, then they can be fired or disciplined for it. The second part is was their speech regarding a matter of public concern? If it is not then the first amendment will not protect them it is of public concern the first amendment may protect them there is still one more test. The final question is whether the government employer’s interest in efficiently fulfilling its public services is greater than the employee’s interest in speaking freely. There have been a few cases involving this system Garcetti v. Ceballos, Pickering v. Board of Education, Connick v. Myers. When it comes to free speech the line of what is protected by the first amendment and what is not is blurry at best. Public employees are in a unique situation and should be careful about what they say or post.

Tags: Media, Social, Freedom-of-speech

Works Cited:

“Free Speech Rights Of Government Employees.” Law2.umkc.edu. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

” Government Employees & First Amendment Overview | Newseum Institute.” Newseuminstitute.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

Savage, David. “Supreme Court Strengthens Free-Speech Rights Of Public Employees.” latimes.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

Limited Money?

Should there be a limit or regulation on how much an individual can donate towards a political candidate? There are many reasons why or why not to go along with this because it is right on the border of being an issue with freedom of expression or not. I believe that money can be considered a form of free expression and that there should be a limit on how much one person can spend on one candidate. If there is no limit, the political candidates that have multiple connections to people of great wealth will definitely have a very high advantage and that is unfair to the candidates that don’t have those types of connections. It is simply unfair if one candidate has more wealthy people on their side where they can simply pull a million dollars out of their pocket and give them a huge advantage over the other candidate. Having a limit will definitely make the campaigns more fair for everyone because it will actually matter about how many people are with the candidate and not just how many wealthy people are with that candidate. Another thing it would help is the amount being spent on campaigns. It is at a very high rate right now and the limits would help keep the spending amounts lower. In conclusion, there should definitely be a limit to the amount an individual can donate towards a political candidate.

Speak Outs – Should there be a limit on campaign donations from individuals?

Speak Outs – Should there be a limit on campaign donations from individuals?. (2018). Annenberg Classroom. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://www.annenbergclassroom.org/speakout/should-there-be-a-limit-on-campaign-donations-from-individuals

Why Campaign Contribution Limits Matter | BillMoyers.com

Why Campaign Contribution Limits Matter | BillMoyers.com. (2013). BillMoyers.com. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/19/why-campaign-contribution-limits-matter/

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.

 

Courts ruling of slander and satire

How do the United State courts rule between satire and slander?

 

Living in a country where media is very prevalent in our lives sometimes fake news can get to carried away, but how do courts differentiate defamatory news between satire?  According to Kelly and Warner Law they state,” The United States courts have made it abundantly clear: parody and satire are not defamatory”. It really depends on who is seeing these stories and how they take humor and sarcasm. Satire is the funny version of news and can you can tell that it is fake. The United States courts protect satire as part of the First Amendment because everyone has the right to express themselves as long as it doesn’t interfere with the reputation of others. Where as defamatory news can cause harm to a person’s image due to lies that are very believable and passed off as true.

One very important case of satire and defamation is when Falwell,  a pastor, sued Larry Flynt for an ad published in Hustler magazine. The ad implied Falwell had a intimate relationship with his mother. When the case reached the Supreme court the judges sided with Larry Flynt. They explained that the ad was satire and didn’t hurt Falwell’s reputation because it very noticeable that it was fake and pure humor. Although in a defamation case where Rebel Wilson sued  Bauer Media for falsely accusing her of lying about her age and childhood and portraying her as a “serial liar”. This false accusation cost her a lot of “damage” because she wasn’t able to get any jobs.

 

“Satire V. Defamation: What’s The Difference Between Satire & Defamation?.” Kelly / Warner Law | Defamation Law, Internet Law, Business Law. N. p., 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

“‘It’S Important To Stand Up To Bullies’: Rebel Wilson Wins Record Amount In Defamation Case.” Washington Post. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

” Defamation And Satire | Media Law Journal.” Medialawjournal.co.nz. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

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.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2010/01/money_isnt_speech_and_corporations_arent_people.html

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

http://www.minnesotalawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Hellman_PDF.pdf

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

https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/07/citizens-united-2016-campaign-financing-bernie-sanders-donald-trump-jeb-bush/

How Do SLAPPs Limit the Freedom of Speech?

Many large companies do not follow all the rules if they can find a way to cut corners.When citizens are affected by these cheats, they sue the big business they believe caused the grievance. People often are SLAPPed which takes away people’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech. SLAPPing, also known as strategic lawsuits against public participation, make suing large companies nearly impossible by creating a financial burden. The Public Participation Project explains that the United States Supreme Court has said that the right to petition the government is the very foundation of our democracy. The project is trying to help people understand how they can fight for their right of free speech. Part of their education process includes an interactive map of the states with the law and how effective it is, as well as a chart that explains all aspects of each states law.

A great number of anti-SLAPP defense attorneys believe that SLAPPing is a way to discourage people from expressing their first amendment right. The plaintiff assumes that the criticism is due to conspiracy or defamation. Professors George Pring and Penelope Canan give an example of a parents criticising the management of their children’s school. The school then SLAPPs the parents which buries them in financial debt they can never recover from. If there was a federal anti-SLAPP legislation, then people would be able to recuperate from the unnecessary financial burden of exercising their right to freedom of speech. When people find a flaw in the community, they will often speak out against the company responsible which in turn hurts this person. Big businesses should not be allowed to revoke people’s right to freedom of speech