Tag Archives: freedom

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

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When does protesting step over the line.

          Does creating buffer zones in front of public buildings violate a person’s right to peaceably assemble that is granted to them through the first amendment. In some places around the united states local governments are creating “buffer zones” around public buildings to prevent violent protesters from gaining access to the facility. In the past violent protesters have caused serious damage, for example the Berkeley riots in February of 2017. The people who participated in these riots were brought on by antifa and far-left socialists because they disliked the exercise of free speech by an individual named Milo Yiannopoulos. The “alt-left” were using and abusing the very same right they were trying to suppress. If there were buffer zones the violence could have theoretically been lessened. It is only ok for a local government to introduce buffer zones if they deem in necessary for the safety of the people they are sworn to protect. In 2014 the supreme court dismissed a proposed law from Massachusetts to create buffer zones outside of abortion clinics because people attempting to get inside were being heckled by right-leaning protesters.

 

          The first amendment should be upheld fully until the point at which its protections hurt the people it was implemented to protect. When protesting peacefully becomes full scale rioting it is time to step in and prevent violence. In general conservatives are known for holding the 1st amendment, and the rest of the constitution, in high regards. On the other hand Liberals are generally known for disliking some of the pillars of the constitution. In conclusion the 1st amendment does protect the rights of the people to protest but it doesn’t protect their right to riot and hurt other people.

 

Group against proposed Toledo law on abortion clinic access: EBSCOhost

” Group Against Proposed Toledo Law On Abortion Clinic Access: Ebscohost .” Web.b.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

 

EDITORIAL: It’s a crime scene, not a ‘protest’: EBSCOhost

” EDITORIAL: It’s A Crime Scene, Not A ‘Protest’: Ebscohost .” Web.b.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

 

Dakota Access Pipeline & First Amendment

Written in the Bill Of Rights under the 1st amendment is freedom of speech. Included in this freedom of speech is, the right to have freedom of the press, and freedom of peaceable assemblies. Reporters see this as their right to give news reports on what they call the truth, but the government sees it as rioting and as of late, has been putting these reporters in jail or giving out tickets for trespassing. The North Dakota Access Pipeline as of late has been a very hot and controversial issue in our nation. It was a very big topic regarding our debates and president elections back in 2016. With Trump in control, we are likely to see this pipeline passed and built. This has gotten people all across the country riled up. Many people have traveled nationwide to protest in the Dakotas. Saying that it is land we owe to the SIoux and it is unavailable to build on.  Others think it is better for our economy and will lead to more jobs. Being one of the biggest controversies in our country right now, we also have the debate whether or not it infringes on the rights of the first amendment.  Part of that first amendment is, freedom of the press, the right to be protected as press for your work. As long as that work is not ‘fake news’. News teams have been going on to private land and giving reports on the pipeline and their protests. Some of these reports have given certain reporters a ticket from the police or even a spot in jail. The reason behind this is that they are trespassing on someone else’s land. The question behind this all is are they giving these reports unwarranted as a ‘rioting-like protest’  response to Trump’s new order or simply just doing news coverage.

I am neutral on this discussion, though. I believe that the pipeline was a good decision passed by President Trump and it will benefit our nation in many ways. I do not think the protesting by citizens will do anything though and all it is is a waste of their time. From the standpoint of the press vs. the government, I see both sides. The press is, in a way, protesting by giving these stories as most often given from the negative side of the pipeline, leaving out the possibilities the pipeline has to offer. This is seen by the government a form of protesting, falling under the category of rioting, which results in a ticket or if necessary, jail. To avoid the problems for both sides of the argument, reporters can give news on public land and give news more neutralized. Staying off private land avoiding the ticket, and making all sides happy by delivering news that is equalized.

Confederate Flags Are Banned From Schools

Defenders of the Confederate flags demands that it symbolizes the heritage, not hate. Many other Americans see it as an emblem of white supremacy. Freedom of speech is one of the most important facets of our democracy, we as individuals wear these symbols to protest a school policy that prohibits them. So should students be allowed to wear Confederate symbols at school, or should the school limit the freedom of speech? A peaceful student who attended at a Virginia High School demonstrated his view with confederacy, which ended with school administrators suspending twenty three students for wearing clothing with the Confederate flag. According to school officials, other students, and parents, this violated the school’s dress code.

The other big issue is that Students are banned from wearing any clothing that could possibly reflect negatively on someone due to their race, which specifies that any clothing with Confederate symbols would fall into that category. Based on the school’s recent experiences with displays of the Confederate flag, it’s likely to disrupt schoolwork, by exacerbating racial hostilities leading to fights and similar disruptions. Speeches will lead to violent attacks on the speaker, unless an outright riot is looming. School administrators should be free to prevent substantial risks of material disruption whatever the disruptive mechanism might be.

 

Tags: Press, Confederacy, Confederate Flag, Public, Freedom, Controversial

 

Works Cited:

 

Board, T. (2017). Should students be allowed to wear Confederate flag clothing?. latimes.com. Retrieved 20 February 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-flag-20150820-story.html

Volokh, E. & Volokh, E. (2017). Opinion | The Confederate flag, the First Amendment and public schools. Washington Post. Retrieved 20 February 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/21/the-confederate-flag-the-first-amendment-and-public-schools/?utm_term=.b27201551dd5

Can we trust the news social media?

There are so many examples for “fake news”, from theWeekend Update” from Saturday Night Live to The daily show, from BuzzFeed to  Political Cartoons.  We only like to read stories that have an eye-catching headline but does the story have facts to back them up or is it “fake news” that don’t have the facts?  Web sites make eye-catching headlines for us to click on them, they get money off every time someone clicks on that article. This is called “click bait”. So if companies make money off us clicking on their articles can we really trust them? Freedom of the Press is one of the most important parts of our country, we look to social media to inform us of new issues, and to keep a record of the events that happened and also know what’s going to happen. People go to social media before they do something rational. So is News on social media protected by the press?

On November 23, 2016, Noah Feldman stated that it’s a lot more expensive to generate true news stories than false ones. News requires reporting and research and institutional structures like editors and fact checkers to support them. On Chicago Tribune on December 6, 2016, Clarence Page(3) stated that Entertainment typically sells better than news. News people are limited to reporting reality. Fake news can be as unfair and unbalanced. It doesn’t help that our president calls CNN “Fake news. A lot of people would agree with President Trump because he is a leader.  News on the media it can change or damage your reputation if someone calls you out on that article saying that you published “fake news”. So is news on social media protected by the press?

 

Expanded Rights for All Government Employees

Topic: Free speech rights of people employed by federal, state, and local government.

 

Essential Question: Should employers be able to fire or demote employees because of their political views?

 

There are around 22 million people that work for federal, state, and local government. All of them have limited 1st amendment rights. This focuses on freedom of speech. Recently there has been a breakthrough in the move towards equal protection under the 1st amendment for employees of government. In the Washington Post they explain the few ways that employees are protected. They say, “1. the speech is on a matter of public concern 2. the speech is not said by the employee as part of the employee’s job duties, Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), and 3. the damage caused by the speech to the efficiency of the government agency’s operation does not outweigh the value of the speech to the employee and the public (the so-called Pickering balance). Connick v. Myers (1983) (p. 567).”       

In an article in the LA Times, the writer David G. Savage, explained the Supreme Court’s decision, “the Supreme Court has strengthened the rights of the nation’s 22 million public employees to protect them against being demoted or fired for supporting the wrong political candidate in the eyes of their supervisors.” This was an important decision that gives more protection to the employees. One of the more notable cases on this subject was Heffernan vs. City of Paterson. In this case a police detective was demoted because he was seen carrying a sign that opposed the mayor. The police chief strongly supported the current mayor. What happened was that the detective was delivering the sign to his mother. The lawsuit was filed in 2005 and finally reached the Supreme court in 2016. In an article from the New Yorker they talk about the decisions that were made in court. The article says, “The trial judge ruled that because Heffernan didn’t mean to get involved in the campaign, he hadn’t exercised any First amendment right, so he couldn’t bring a First Amendment claim.” Eventually the case made its way to the Supreme Court and the court ended up ruling in favor of Heffernan. My personal stance would be that employers should not be able to fire employees just because of their political beliefs whether they make them public or not.