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AllisonDugdale

Olson/Government
5February2016

HowFreeisYourFreedomofSpeech?

WhenaskedabouttheBillofRights,mostAmericanscantellyouthebasicoutlineofthe
mostfamouspart,theFirstAmendment.TheFirstAmendmentincludesyourfreedomofspeech,
religion,pressetc.Intodaysworld,teensattempttorebelagainsttheirsuperiorswiththeirFirst
Amendmentrightsalsoreferredtoastheirfreedomofspeech.Butjusthowfarcanyoutakeit
intodaysworld,andjusthowmuchdoesthegovernmentactuallycompromiseourfirst
amendmentrightsonadaytodaybasis?Afterresearchingthetopic,Ibelievethesupremecourt
(alongwiththegovernmentitrepresents)isveryinconsistentwhenitcomestodeterminingjust
whatfallsunderourfreedomofspeechsegmentofthefirstamendment.
TheSupremeCourtstatesthatyouhavetobeunderallcircumstancesproviding
imminentlawlessactionforyoutobeviolatingtheFirstAmendmentrights.Forexample,in
thecaseofBrandenburgvs.US(1969),BrandenburgpromisedamarchonWashington,andwas
arrestedforspeechthatencouragedviolencebecauseofhisguarantee.Later,theUnitedStates
SupremeCourtruledinfavorofBrandenburgstatinghe
didnot
promoteanykindofimminent
lawlessaction.Inothercasesthough,likewithshootingvictimMichaelBrownsstepfather,
CNNreportsthatpolicearecurrentlytryingtofigureoutwhetherornotLouisHeadwas
attemptingtostartariotonNovember24,2015.Reportedlyhescreamed,Burnthis
down!toagroupofprotestersafterthegrandjurysdecisionthattheofficerwhoshotBrown

wouldntbecharged.Wasthatviolatinghisfirstamendmentrighttofreedomofspeech?Did
thosewordspromoteimminentlawlessaction?Inmyopinion,theydid.IbelievethatHead
wasincitingariotNovember24,2015lookingforsomekindofjusticeforhisstepson.Headhas
notyetbeenchargedwiththeviolationofhisfirstamendmentfreedomofspeechsegment,butin
myopinion,hereallyshouldbe.
Freespeechwassoughttobecompromisedinnotjustthealreadylistedsituations,but
compromisedinthenameofsafetyaswell.InMayof2010,studentsatalocalMorganHillhigh
schoolattendedaneventcelebratingtheCincoDeMayoholiday.Thesestudents,though,
showedupwearingtheAmericanflagontheirshirtsandrefusedtoturntheminsideoutwhen
asked.Theywerethentoldthattheirshirtscouldcauseanincident,butcontinuedtoclaimthey
wereprotectedbytheirfirstamendmentrighttofreedomofspeech.Though,itwaspointedout
thatastudentsspeechcouldberestrictedif,schoolsauthoritiescanreasonableforecast
substantialdisruptionoformaterialinterferencewithschoolactivitiesstemfromthespeech.It
makessensetoo,therewasavalidreasontothinkthatthewearingofAmericanflagtshirtson
CincoDeMayowouldleadtoadisruption.
Schooldistricts,itseems,haveawayofbendingtherulesoftheconstitutionwithout
reallymakingitlooklikethatshappening.InthecaseofHazelwoodSchoolDistrictvs.
Kuhlmeier(1988),apublicschoolprincipaltookdowntwoarticlesfromtheschoolnewspaper
thatheconsideredinappropriate.Oneofthearticleswasaboutteenpregnancy,andtheotherwas
aboutdivorce.ThisiswhenKuhlmeierandtwootherstudentssuedtheschool,claimingtheir
FirstAmendmentrightshadbeenviolated.Thesupremecourthadruledtherewasnoviolation.
Thisisbecausepublicschoolscanregulate,withsomelimitations,thecontentofstudent

newspapersandothernewsoutletsandpublicationsthatarepaidfortheschoolandbearits
name.ItsstatedthateducatorsdontviolateFirstAmendmentrightswhentheiractionsare
relatedtoeducationalconcerns.Inthiscase,becausethetwoarticlesdidnthaveadirect
correlationwiththeschoolitself,andhasnokindofeducationalpurposeitsokaytobecensored
and/ortakendowncompletely.Thiscasewasdecidedonbothwaysthroughoutthemanycourts
itvisited,withitfinishingwithasupremecourtruling.IdobelievethatthestudentsFirst
Amendmentrightswerestretchedandsomewhatcompromisedinthenameofourpublic
educationsystemandallitstandsfor.
Inconclusion,IstandbymyearlierstatementthattheSupremeCourt(alongwiththe
governmentitrepresents)isveryinconsistentwhenitcomestodeterminingjustwhatfallsunder
ourfreedomofspeechsegmentofthefirstamendment,thereforecompromisingourfirst
amendmentrighttofreedomofspeech.FromBrandenburgvs.US(1969)toMichaelBrowns
stepfather,allthewaydowntoacoupleofguystryingtostartproblemsatschool,ourFirst
Amendmentrighttofreedomofspeechiscontinuouslycompromisedindifferentsituations,and
thereneedstoberegulationtoensurefullcontrolovertheissuesputforward.