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Freedom of [Chat]
MrMisterValuing scholarship above all elseRegistered Userregular
Back when Vietnam was a thing, some awesome students made law by wearing protest armbands to school. When they were forced to remove them, they sued. This lead directly to the Supreme Court telling us:
First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.
Unfortunately, this ruling has, in many ways, been eroded over the subsequent decades. For instance, in Fraser v. Bethel School District, a young man gave a rather racy speech in support of his friend's bid for student body president. Check it out:
"'I know a man who is firm -- he's firm in his pants, he's firm in his shirt, his character is firm -- but most . . . of all, his belief in you, the students of Bethel, is firm.
"'Jeff Kuhlman is a man who takes his point and pounds it in. If necessary, he'll take an issue and nail it to the wall. He doesn't attack things in spurts -- he drives hard, pushing and pushing until finally -- he succeeds.
"'Jeff is a man who will go to the very end -- even the climax, for each and every one of you.
"'So vote for Jeff for A. S. B. vice-president -- he'll never come between you and the best our high school can be.'"
Unfortunately, of all the justices, only Brennan really had a sense of humor.
The Court, referring to these remarks as "obscene," "vulgar," "lewd," and "offensively lewd," concludes that school officials properly punished respondent for uttering the speech. Having read the full text of respondent's remarks, I find it difficult to believe that it is the same speech the Court describes. To my mind, the most that can be said about respondent's speech -- and all that need be said -- is that in light of the discretion school officials have to teach high school students how to conduct civil and effective public discourse, and to prevent disruption of school educational activities, it was not unconstitutional for school officials to conclude, under the circumstances of this case, that respondent's remarks exceeded permissible limits. Thus, while I concur in the Court's judgment, I write separately to express my understanding of the breadth of the Court's holding....
So chatters, what do you think about free speech in schools? What about, for instance, hateful or harassing speech? Recently kids in Chicago were prevented from wearing "straight pride" shirts with violent passages from Leviticus on them. What's that all about?