Consequences for Free Speech

By Megan Schuessler

As much as I believe in the rights that the First Amendment gives us in regards to free speech, I do believe there should be consequences for things that are completely immoral. I believe everyone should be able to say all the dumb things that they want to. The government shouldn’t be allowed to stop people from saying things before they say them, but if someone says something immoral, they should be held accountable for their actions and face appropriate consequences.

I chose to side with the school in the case of the Wilson twins. Firstly, the twins decided to use school-owned computers. In my experience, high school computers are closely monitored and many sites not used for school related activities are blocked for student use. The blog posts created by the twins were written and accessed on several of the school’s computers. Since these things were done on these computers, the school is somewhat represented by the content being created on their computers by their students.

The second reason I have chosen to side with the school is because of the degrading remarks they chose to make on their blog posts about their peers. Not only did they make degrading sexual and racist comments, but they also decided to call out these people by name. I am not sure as to what the comments were, but they seem to have been written completely without their peers’ consent. As such, they should be charged with libel since they did publish these comments on their blog.

All of these occurrences probably created a huge distraction within the learning environment and made a large population of the students feel uncomfortable. The twins were technically allowed to say whatever they wanted, but they should also face consequences for the words they did choose to say.

As I previously stated, I completely agree that everyone should be able to say whatever they want and they shouldn’t be barred from doing so to begin with. However, as stated in this article, not all “free speech” is constitutionally protected. It is possible for someone to get in trouble for the words they say and face consequences after the fact.

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Freedom of Speech vs. School Speech

By: Tray Robinson

When it comes to the case involving free speech and students, I am going to have to give favor to the school on this one. There are a lot of rights that these twins violated, that simply cannot be disputed or justified. For starters, they don’t have a case. The whole right for Freedom of Speech, is that you can voice your opinion without fear of government retaliation or censorship. But they’re not dealing with Free Speech, they are dealing with  School Speech, which has entirely different set of  factors for regulations. School speech, in a nut shell, explains that the right to free speech is not absolute, and the court recognizes that when it comes to student expression, certain factors should be considered. The two boys are guilty of all three major considerations.

  1. “The extent to which the student speech in question poses a substantial threat of disruption”. In the explanation, “teachers reported difficulty managing their classes because students were distracted or upset“. Distracted and/or upset can most definitely fall under the classification of a disruption in the classroom.
  2. “Whether the speech is offensive to prevailing community standards”. In the description, “they mocked black students and made sexually degrading comments about female students whom they identified by name”. Mocking and sexually degrading, can certainly be construed as offensive.
  3. “Whether the speech, if allowed as part of a school activity or function, would be contrary to the basic educational mission of the school”. In the explanation, “school officials found several school computers were used to access the blog”. The school would not allow them to use their computers for their blog, for it is not related to a school sanctioned event and serves no educational mission for the school.

The court has deemed that any one of these may serve as an independent case on restricting students speech.

Not to mention they mentioned the girls by name, so thats cause for Liable on its own.

So to reiterate, I think the court should decide to rule in favor of the school.

The First Amendment Does Not Mean Be a Jerk

By Cole Young

I believe the court should rule with the school. While the students were right to believe their First Amendment rights may have been violated, they were not. As we discussed in class, the first amendment state that congress will make no law negating free speech, but that does not mean there will not be consequences for the things that are said. These boys definitely had a right to vent their opinions online; however, once their grievances became hateful and degrading, they were subject to consequences from the school. Also, the students used school property and basically committed libel by posting hateful comments about fellow students. Freedom of speech does not stop once a person is on campus. But, that means the school cannot create a rule preventing you from speaking your mind. Any student who says, posts, or writes harmful and offensive things will face punishment from their teachers or principles. When I was a kid, if I cursed in front of my parents, I would get grounded. That is very similar to this case, because the students are being inappropriate and disrespecting those who are in charge of them. That does not mean they are being oppressed, just that they are facing the punishment they clearly deserved.

This article also addresses the same basic issue of free speech on campus. A school district in Pennsylvania attempted to ban offensive words from being used on campus. Were they in the right to do this?

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say It At All

By: Alisha Elson

When deciding how the courts should rule in the Wilson brothers vs. Supreme Court case, it’s best to consider each offense individually. In my opinion, the brothers are guilty of three of the four criteria that count as defamation. The first aspect of defamation is that the statement must be false and hurt someone’s reputation. By specifically naming the female students who they made sexually degrading comments about, the brothers were making comments that could potentially injure the female student’s reputation. The second consideration for defamation involves speaking or publishing a statement to more than one person besides the person who is the subject of the statement. By posting their comments online, the brothers conveyed their comments to a public audience. In addition, the comments made by the brothers could be considered libel because they were “written” (typed) and recorded in a blog. The third criteria of defamation states that the false statement must be factual. I believe the brothers violated this criterion by making unfounded sexual comments about the female students as well as racial comments about the males. The final consideration for defamation states that the statement made by the accused must be made with fault. In my opinion, this is where the ruling gets tricky. Because the case says that the brothers created the blog to “vent” about events at their high school, I’m unsure they ever intended on anyone else reading their blog; perhaps implying they had no fault in the consequences of the blog being discovered.

Because the brothers violated three of the four criteria considered for defamation, I believe the courts should side with the school. In addition, with the amount of bullying that takes place in schools today, I think it’s important the courts side with the school to show that they won’t tolerate bullying.

The actual ruling.

The right to remain blogging?

By: Laura Buck

The case of the two twins in a Missouri High School blogging inappropriate things about their fellow students has a couple downfalls, considering it was accessed through the school computer, and it did cause class distraction. Seeing that they sued the twins, and suspended them for 180 days, I do feel this was the proper action. Here’s why.

Ultimately, it is not explicitly stated in the case whether this is a public or private school. This mean that because it was accessed through the school computers, the school can technically make laws against that or prohibiting such behavior on what is rightfully there. Another argument comes in with the comments being made. If one did find this obscene and very offensive, they have the right to sue as the boys have the right to claim freedom of speech. Lastly, a third and final argument regarding the matter would be how distracting it was to the school. Going back to my initial statement of the school being able to make their own rules on their campus, and it distracting their classroom, they have the rights to take action on this entire matter. For these reasons, I side with the school on this case. With all of this being said, there is a ton of loopholes or things people claim to pursue their right of the first amendment and use it as protection. Which is good that people continue to actively pursue their freedom of speech because that is what this country is based on. However, as shown in this example, I feel it does have its downfalls.

Not Suitable For Most Ages

By Dixie Thompson

Picture this, the year is 2010. It’s the last month of school in the eighth grade and a form is sent home to get permission to watch a PG13 film. “Why do I need to get this signed, I’m already 13!” might be some thoughts crossing a student’s mind, but it is protocol. Students then watch the highly anticipated film a week later to come to realization that the raciest it got was a shot of a couple exchanging a kiss and some foul language.

This may bring up question as to how these movies are rated, and what decides those rating seen on the silver screen. A group of parents with children between 5 and 15 sit in and rate these films. They must have no connection to the film industry prior and must try to remain unbiased. This calls for some senses of bias though, are the people rating these films from different backgrounds? How much diversity is there in these rating rooms, and how are the ages of the children affecting these decisions?

Rating films also can alter the vision a director and producer were going for, not knowing how the film will be handled by the rating system before then. There can often be a sense of miscommunication and grey area between the two fields of the film industry. Film makers do have the option to surpass the rating system, but often find it harder to get their work into theaters since they use the system in American theaters. To read about each rating and what they generally mean for ages and appropriateness read here.

Everything is on the Internet

By Max Falore

Movies are representations of who we are and good or bad the events we have endured. The scale of movie genres that have been created has so many different avenues that there is fiction or non-fiction. It is important to know when a movie is fiction so that the viewers can view the content through a filter taking note that the story isn’t entirely serious material. Non-fiction content allows it’s future generations to experience the events as they were. For historical films this is especially important because you are accounting for real life events which report all the details. In order to tell the correct story you might have to show events that some don’t agree with but are necessary for all the stories parts. Everyone has a different background and everyone has there own opinions of what is right and wrong. that being said certain material may have much more historical significance to somebodies culture making it more relevant for them. Something like killing in an army movie could bring pride to some of the audience which makes the scene a good one. I think if a movie provides a certain rating it can only mean so much because if a parent wants there kid to see the film they will make it happen. I think with the increase of creative content since the beginning of film and now with the hundreds of outlets for technology users to take advantage of people are going to watch the films they choose. This easy access makes it inconvenient now to go to a movie theater and worry about a rating not allowing you to watch when you could just stream it in a few months with no problem. In a piece from William West he discusses how “Many parents said they had turned to censoring films themselves,” which doesn’t surprise me because I know all that can be found on the internet with just a few search words. Instead of completely relying on the movies ratings from random parents that debate the iffy material for a living, watch it yourself or read reviews online and develop to have your own opinion.

 

If parents are the ones rating shouldnt individual parents have that choice also