Tag Archives: media

Is publishing fake news protected by the freedom of the press clause of the First Amendment?

Finding accurate facts on the internet can be difficult, as quality information is hard to come by.  When looking for a credible source, you would almost always choose information from a university over Wikipedia, or from a government website over a local blogger like myself.  But when it comes to an article from the press, can you trust the content that is being published?  Over the past few years, specifically during the 2016 presidential election, the phrase “fake news” has become a common term associated with mainstream medias.  The question is, should publishing fake news be protected by the freedom of the press clause of the First Amendment, or is it a wrong and possibly illegal act?

Fake news has become a powerful tool that many news networks and media companies use to sway their audience into thinking a certain way about a person or topic.  For instance, in the past presidential election, fake news was published from both left and right leaning medias, trying to influence people to think poorly of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  A few of these articles included sources claiming that Trump was a “puppet” of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, or that Clinton should be put in prison, rather than in office. When you dig deeper into these articles however, you find that there is little to no credibility, and they seem to not be written by people who seek the truth, but by people who have a strong disliking for these political figures.

Unfortunately, trying to get people to agree with them through falsifying information isn’t the worst thing that fake news has brought to the public.  In 2016, the Washington Times published an editorial in their paper describing the murder of Seth Rich, an employee of the Democratic National Committee.  In the article, they claimed that he leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks and was killed in response to these actions.  Even though it was published in the paper and online, there were no facts or evidence to back up this claim. His brother Aaron Rich, and the rest of his family were outraged over this false claim, and filed a lawsuit over it.  In September of 2018, Aaron Rich reached a settlement with the Washington Times, and dropped the lawsuit after the Washington Times issued a public apology and retracted the article from their publishings.

It is my opinion that fake news is a harmful method of political propaganda that should be made illegal.  It has done much more harm than good in our country, and across the world for that matter. Freedom of the press is a very important clause of the First Amendment, but the people should be able to trust that what the media is publishing is truthful and can be backed up with evidence.  If media companies only posted the truth, it would leave people feeling a lot less confused, and give us a better understanding of what is truly going on in the United States.

Works Cited:

Emanuel, Daniella. “Should Fake News Be Battled in the Courts?” CNN, Cable News Network, 7 Oct. 2018, Web, 27 Feb. 2019.

Meyer, Robinson. “The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 12 Mar. 2018, Web, 27 Feb. 2019.

Staffers, Carl. “Fake News, Fake Data: How Bad Data and Misleading Graphs Are Fueling Fake News.” Badgerlink, 4 Mar. 2017, Web, 27 Feb. 2019.


Is hate speech protected by the freedom of speech and peaceable assemblies clauses in the First Amendment?

As a U.S citizen you are privileged with rights that are declared in the Constitution. Recently and in past years the foundation of the First Amendment has been tested by many groups and individuals expressing themselves in ways that are considered hate speech. Skokie, Illinois is home to  40,500 Jewish people that make up more than half the population. Nazi sympathizers wanted a permit to demonstrate in front of the town hall. The leader of the Nazi protesters, Frank Collin, voiced they would be wearing the Nazi symbol to represent their beliefs in the march, and there would be no derogatory statements. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Skokie ban was unconstitutional and the Supreme Court later declined the case agreeing that the group was protected by the constitution. The protest Is protected by the First Amendment because their protest would not have included slander speech. Freedom to hold peaceable assemblies is a significant clause in the First Amendment and no group of people should be denied the right to protest peacefully. The First Amendment gives you the right to freedom of speech but there is limits to what you can say. In 1946, Arthur Terminiello, broadcasted his anti Semitic views over media platforms like the radio and newspaper. His remarks and beliefs caused a scuffle between audience members and protesters in Chicago. He was arrested for riotous speech but the Supreme Court overturned his conviction ruling that his arrest was unconstitutional in a 5-4 majority vote. Most people would classify his articles and radio station as slander/ libel because it has defamatory statements that are written and orally said. Justice William O. Douglas stated, ¨protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to reduce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest … There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view¨. This means that because he was not the one starting or participating in the violent scuffle that the First Amendment protected him and his words because he has the right to express his beliefs through press and speech. The first amendment states, ¨congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble¨. Even though people may not agree with the written and oral statements expressed by some other they have to respect their beliefs. Everyone has the right to say what they want as long as it is not slander or libel and the right to peacefully assemble without any violence because they are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. 

Works Cited:

Head, Tom. “6 Major U.S. Supreme Court Hate Speech Cases.” Thoughtco., Dotdash, 6 Jan. 2019, http://www.thoughtco.com/hate-speech-cases-721215.

Bubar, Joe. “Is Social Media Fueling Hate? The recent mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh has brought public attention to hate speech on social media.” New York Times Upfront, 10 Dec. 2018, p. 10+. Global Issues in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A564604753/GPS?u=mono131514&sid=GPS&xid=d8c3cd96.

“Terminiello v. City of Chicago.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Oct. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminiello_v._City_of_Chicago.

“Oyez” National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1976/76-1786.

Does the First Amendment Protect Hate Speech?

Slander/Libel, Fighting words, and obscenity can be hate speech, but not all hate speech is slander/libel, fighting words, and obscenity. The First Amendment protects the majority of hate speech, but the only thing that it doesn’t protect is when someone is openly abusing the individual(s) with hate toward their race, color, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or religion.

Hate speech can be obscenity. An example of this is the R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul court case. Allegedly, a group of teenagers burned “a crudely fashioned cross on a black family’s lawn.” Based on the United State’s short history, not long ago were African Americans segregated against, and tortured and murdered. The Klu Klux Klan was a group organized in 1865, specifically made to strike fear into the hearts of African Americans and those that supported them. Eventually, the Klu Klux Klan decided to act, who continued to suppress newly freed slaves as well as beat and hang them. Their symbol was their white outfits as well as the burning cross. The display of this on the family’s yard caused extreme anger, and aroused fear based on their race. The issue is that hate speech itself falls into a number of different categories that are considered crimes. The article provides an example, “threatening to kill someone because he’s black (or white) or intentionally inciting someone to a likely and immediate attack on someone because he’s Muslim (or Christian or Jewish), can be made a crime.” This is hate speech, but falls under the illegal status because one cannot make true threats at another or try to start crimes for any reason. Hate speech can also be slander/libel. The Beauharnais v. Illinois was a case where a man posted papers asking government officials to “halt the encroachment, harassment, and invasion of white people and call whites to unite against the violence perpetrated by African-Americans.” This is libel against the African-American race, and collectively insulting every person that is or identifies with that race.

Lawyers say that hate speech itself is not part of the exceptions of the first amendment unless it falls under one of the other kinds of unprotected expression. The lines are not clearly drawn out, and hate speech continues to happen with no consequence because it is so difficult to pinpoint. The first amendment protects any speech, no matter how emotionally harmful, unless it poses physical harm, or is direct or personal toward another person. The first amendment is not just freedom of speech, but freedom of expression. Through the court system, there have been many cases where there has been tension because of what someone was wearing, including the Cohen v. California case. In this case, a man decided to wear a jacket showing his opposition to the Vietnam war. He was taken to court about it, but the judges protected him stating, “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.” The court protected the emotive and cognitive element of speech even though Cohen was found guilty and served 30 days in jail.

The Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party of America was another case where clothing was questioned. A march was going to take place, and the marchers wanted to wear clothing extremely similar to those that Nazis wore, including the armband Swastika. The major issue was that the march would take place in a village where a large number of the population was Jewish, and most of whom had survived the concentration camps. The court case looked at the Cohen v. California case and ruled that the Nationalist Socialist Party could wear what they wanted to. The court said that the “government could not base rules on the feelings of “the most squeamish among us” and that the wearing of the swastikas was “a matter of taste and style.””

Hate speech is a giant grey area within modern day law. Many fights start with someone stating something awful to another person. A person could say something that would be fighting words, but the saying itself would not be the crime, but what follows after what was said would be. The internet makes it even more difficult to legislate hate speech. Hate speech is said every day on many platforms, that it would take an extremely long time and nearly impossible to shut down every website or every post that showed any sign of hate speech. The concept of “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric,” makes one’s speech difficult to judge unless it is blatantly stated in a way that crosses the lines on one or more of the already established limits of speech.



Demaske, C. (2018). Hate Speech. [online] Mtsu.edu. Available at: https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/967/hate-speech [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Gjelten, E. (2018). Does the First Amendment Protect Hate Speech?. [online] http://www.lawyers.com. Available at: https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/criminal/does-the-first-amendment-protect-hate-speech.html [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Oyez. (2018). Beauharnais v. Illinois. [online] Available at: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/343us250 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Oyez. (2018). Cohen v. California. [online] Available at: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1970/299 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Oyez. (2018). R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul. [online] Available at: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/90-7675 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

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.

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.

Should burning the flag be Illegal?

First off people who say their going to burn the flag are doing it to protest the government.

If burning the flag is not a protected form of speech, is kneeling for the National Anthem protected? Most people would say yes because it is a peaceful way to protest something, but according to thelawdictionary.org, burning the flag is also showing a form of peaceful protest. If burning the flag is illegal, then kneeling for the National Anthem is illegal right? Even though they are both protesting peacefully. But according to cnn.com neither president Trump nor congress can criminalize it.

Burning the American Flag

Burning the American flag is symbolic speech. Symbolic speech is an expression of an idea that doesn’t use words. For example, Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted for desecrating a flag in violation of Texas law. The Court determined if his conviction was consistent with the First Amendment. The Court of Criminal Appeals viewed Mr. Johnson’s conduct as symbolic speech which is protected by the First Amendment. “Given the context of an organized demonstration, speeches, slogans, and the distribution of literature, anyone who observed the appellant’s act would have understood the message that appellant intended to convey. The act for which appellant was convicted was clearly speech contemplated by the First Amendment.” Id., at 95. If Mr. Johnson was disturbing the peace there would be charges. Since Mr. Johnson wasn’t disturbing the peace with his desecration of the flag there were no charges.

A con to burning the American flag is that the American flag is losing significance. A citizen could see flag burning as a threat to the United States. Barry states on web.b.ebscohost.com, “Our freedom is protected institutions, groups and individuals; the police, legal system, ambos, parliament, and trade unions. The treat to our society will more likely come from within unless we are tolerate, accept people’s differences, and treat all those who come to our country with respect and dignity.” Burning the American flag is disrespectful towards our country.

Work Cited

Brennan, William J., and William H. Rehnquist. “Court’s Opposing Views Create Storm of Debate.” Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL), 02 Jul, 1989, pp. 1E+, SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.

Illawarra Mercury (2018). Flag has Lost Significance. [online] p.pg 15. Available at: http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=b9560f2e-626f-4f72-be1b-eaf4efe97c86%40sessionmgr101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=SYD-63GPV4XJJUO173JML1EO&db=n5h [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].

Police arrest protesters at flag-burning outside convention. (2016). [Blog] Sofrep. Available at: https://sofrep.com/59653/police-arrest-protesters-flag-burning-outside-convention/ [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].