Tag Archives: social issues

Net Neutrality-The First Amendment Issue of Our Time

Net neutrality has been around since the internet took off. It says that internet service providers cannot slow down certain websites. This is so that they don’t slow down certain to discourage traffic on that site, but it has become an increasingly hot issue over the past few years. Some people believe that everyone should have equal access to the web and that companies that provide internet services are simply there to transfer information without bias. The big media companies, however, believe that since they engage in and transmit speech, that this is a violation of the first amendment.

Verizon in particular have voiced that they think it violates the first amendment by stripping these ISP’s of control over the transmission of speech on their networks. Other internet service providers also agree that net neutrality imposes dramatic new restrictions and that the government seeks to control all aspects of broadband internet access service.

Recently, the organization that regulates net neutrality has proposed new rules that permit a fast lane for content providers that are willing and able to pay for it. Many people believe that if the court allows this new rule, that broadband companies will shut off access to web sites and ideas they don’t like, and it will funnel consumers instead to the sites and ideas that are favorable to corporate interests. This, they think, risks the loss of free flow and exchange of ideas that is central to democracy.

Censorship and Education

The 1st amendment of the United States Constitution addresses the issues of freedom of expression and the limitations government has when it comes to acting against the expressions of the public. According to the first amendment, government is not allowed to show  bias towards a religion or belief and are not allowed to stop a person’s right to speak out about their values .  One of the limiting powers  of the government is that they are allowed to censor media and information from the public if under the proper context.  Does censorship  desecrate the freedom of expression? Or does it not hinder it at all?

 

According to  an article entitled “ National Coalition Against Censorship” By the NACA censorship is defined as “ suppression of an image or idea because it offends or disturbs someone, or they disagree with it.  This states that media can be censored if it offends or bothers someone, however this raises another question. What are the limits when it comes to offensive or disturbing material? And how do they decide if something needs to be censored or if it should stay?   The IRA defines the difference in the following quote “   There is an important distinction between  selection based on professional guidelines and what censorship actually entails.  “ The goal of censorship  is to remove, eliminate or bar particular materials or methods.  The goal of professional guidelines is to provide criteria for  the selection of those materials or methods”.

 

Censorship also plays a  role in the education system.  An article entitled “ The Student’s Right to  Read”  by the NCTE, states that “ students and parents have the right to demand that education today keep students in reality with the world outside the classroom.  Since this a right of the parents and student why are books that are deemed to realistic or vulgar removed from the educational system.  Another thing to consider is the responsibilities of an english teacher. The specific responsibilities are highlighted  as the following “  Literature classes  should reflect the cultural contributions  of many minority groups in the United States”     
Censorship does not just impact literature in school but also can hinder the quality and impact on education.  How this affects students  is shown in the following excerpt  “   Censorship leaves students with  an inadequate and  distorted  picture of the ideals, values and problems in their culture.  Writers and authors have alot of power when it comes to the ability to impact students when it comes to sensitive or emotional content. Writers can distort or inaccurately portray a culture or value or they can paint an overly graphic image of a culture or idea.  Censorship can protect the public from sensitive media but in the end does it have a negative effect on students when they enter the real world? That’s for you to decide for yourself, as for me, I think it affects us more than we realize.

The Confederate Flag: A Symbol of the Past or Present in Schools?

The Civil War ended 150 years ago, however the issue of the Confederate flag has not disappeared with the war. The Confederacy is well alive in not only history textbooks, but on clothing, and flags. This brings up the big question; Can public schools ban the Confederate flag on their campuses? Does banning the Confederate flag violate the First Amendment? First to argue against the issue was Christiansburg High School in Virginia. A group of students began a demonstration when a student was punished for wearing a t-shirt with the Confederate flag on it. The students disagreed with the punishment, so they protested.  The Washington Post described the incident as a “peaceful student demonstration”. Those students who protested ended up getting suspended. The First Amendment includes Peaceable Assemblies, meaning that the people must be allowed to meet, protest, and march. The students at Christiansburg High School did just that, and did not show any harm to any persons nearby. One might say their t-shirts and flags are protected by Freedom of Speech, which explains how citizens are allowed to express themselves. But are there limits? Do those rights stop when students enter the school grounds?

In another case at Lakeside Middle School, a student showed up to school wearing a jacket with a Confederate flag on it. He was asked to remove the jacket, and when he refused, was suspended multiple times. The student ended up taking the case to court. Judge William B. Traxler Jr. ruled for the school district, basing his decision on three U.S. Supreme Court decisions: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969, Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser in 1986, and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier in 1988. Tinker v. Des Moines, and Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser ruled student’s rights are not as flexible as adult’s rights would be in other settings. Lastly, in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier it was ruled that school administrators can’t punish students because they don’t agree with their expression, but they can if it is disrupting the school or people in the school.

The issue of the Confederate flags in public schools is it’s a very grey area. There are lots of technicalities that go along with the issue; the history of the school’s racial problems, violence, disruption and so on. It depends on the school and the students inside of it. Students are backed with the First Amendment to some extent, but there are limits in a school zone. Although, the school itself has to think about protecting other students in the school, as long as no person or their rights are harmed; if a student wishes to wear a t-shirt with the Confederate flag, they should be allowed to. The First Amendment protects them under Freedom of Speech, Peaceable Assembly and Symbolic Speech. If there were to be a clear obscenity, fighting words, or danger of other students, that student would not have their rights protected and would have to follow what the school says. In conclusion, students should be allowed to wear the Confederate flag in schools, as long as it isn’t disrupting the school or students in anyway or bringing up bad history that the school has.