Free Essay

Freedom of Speech

In: English and Literature

Submitted By melbo44
Words 1173
Pages 5
Melanie Boldt
Professor Garcia
English 1
6 March 2012
Assignment 3, Option 1: Write a well-focused essay in which you describe the court rulings on the issue explaining what rationale it used to make its decisions. Then discuss the extent to which you agree that Tyler Harper should have not been allowed to wear the t- shirt to school. Finally, discuss the implications to the court’s ruling has on the freedom of speech.
Limitations on Freedom of Speech
The first amendment allows all human beings the right of freedom of speech. The purpose of this right is that it admits free communication of ideas and opinions so that congress cannot make any “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble”(Caselaw1). On the day of silence designated to teach tolerance of gay and lesbian students, Tyler Harper, a high school student, wore a T-shirt which message was directed straight at gays saying that homosexuality is shameful. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times entitled “free-speech fashion,” evaluates a problem that interferes with Tyler Harper’s constitutional rights. Although the ruling does not accurately line up with the first amendment and is unfair in Harpers situation, the Supreme Court applied a so called “right” to not be offended which gave authority to suppress speech. Every individual is entitled to freedom of speech on the day of silence, while gay people are allowed to freely express their beliefs on homosexuality, Christians can also do the same in regards to their beliefs. The court explained that the school Harper attended, Poway High School, was within its rights because Judge Stephen Reinhardt misapplied Supreme Court’s 1969 armband decision. The armband created a so called “right” that actually does not exist. The right to not be offended which stands in favor of people who favor the day of silence. The first amendment allows people to communicate their opinions and since everyone holds different opinions, offensive people are unavoidable. The judges’ dispute that the message of Harpers T-Shirt, “Be ashamed, Our School Embraced What God has Condemned,” was a disruption that interfered with the schools activity on the day of silence. The court also argues the shirt was harmful to gays and lesbians. The court’s decision was based on the opinions of judge Reinhardt and one other circuit judge, which ultimately does not make the decision fair, but only adds the judge’s opinions to the situation. Though some students may have felt offended by Haper’s T- shirt, he should not have been sent home for sharing his opinion through a shirt and should have been allowed to wear it. That is not only my bias opinion, but can be supported by the first amendment which states that everyone is entitled to freely state their ideas and opinions with limitations to libel, slander, obscenity, and incitement. The message of Harper’s t-shirt does not violate any of the limitations. If homosexuals are allowed to share their beliefs and even ask fellow students to support and respect them, then Christians should be allowed to do the same. The reasoning behind the court’s decision that Haper was violating the dress code was purely based off of pathos and that the gay audience finds the message offensive. Being offended is a part of life that everyone has to deal with, whether it seems fair or not. Harper did not attack any gays individually nor did he promote violence in any way. The only message that the t-shirt sent was letting people know that he did not support the day of silence because of certain beliefs he had. The message that Harper’s t- shirt portrayed is identical to the message that gay pride rainbow shirts and other accessories are trying to portray. The message of gay pride is that homosexuality needs to be accepted in order to stop bullying and harassment of gay students. Gays, straights, Christians, and atheists are not all going to agree with one another, but need to accept that because Harper is a human being he holds the right to share his opinion. Even if gays are offended by the message of the shirt, Harper was still not going against the actual amendment because the shirt does not state any hatred towards gays directly. In my opinion, I disagree with the court’s ruling and strongly believe that Tyler should have been able to wear the t-shirt. Following this problem further, the implications that the court’s ruling has on the freedom of speech need to be addressed. If the court ruling would have been based on what the first amendment states Harper would have been allowed to wear his t-shirt. The court did not apply the arm band decision of 1969, but misused it to create a right that has never existed in order to give gays the extra protection they need to not feel protected from being offended. Much of the reasoning the court used was that Haper’s t-shirt was harmful to gay students. According to dicationary.com the definition of harmful is “to injure physically, morally, or mentally” (dictionary.com 1). Yes, Harper’s shirt offended people, but since he was not individually targeting gays there is no way that the words on his shirt was intended to mentally injure someone. The so called “rule” created justifications that went around many rules and guidelines of the freedom of speech. The result of this was extremely weak reasoning as to why Harper was out of his constitutional rights, reasoning the many people will continue to argue. Tyler Harper’s situation is similar to many others around the world. This is not the first time a student has been punished for sharing his opinion on homosexuality on the Day of Silence or in that matter on any given day. Whether it is a general comment in class that one does not believe in same sex marriage, evolution or other teaching standards, students are often punished because of their opinions because they “violate” school rules. There are rules that prohibit students from being able to say and perform certain activated especially in regards to religious opinions. Yet all students are entitled to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech was established to give all human beings certain rights and should not be modified for any reason because that takes away from its specific purpose. In this case, the armband case was misused causing unfair treatment in Harper’s situation and there was nothing he or his parents could do. This goes to show that even when there are laws created to ensure people keep their given rights, that any situation can be made unfair whether there is a law or not.

Work Cited
"harm." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin
Company. 11 Mar. 2012.
"U.S. Constitution: First Amendment." FindLaw: U.S. Consitituion. Jan.-Feb. 2000. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2012.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...Freedom of Speech, Hate Speech, & Talk Radio Brice Hinchman Freedom of Speech, Hate Speech, & Talk Radio What is Freedom of speech? Well, the definition for freedom of speech is the ability to speak freely without being subject to censorship or without fear of retaliation from a governing body. There are at least two documents, the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that acknowledge that free speech is an unalienable right and protect it for all. There is another form of speech that may or may not be protected, depending on the circumstances, under the same documents and that is hate speech. Some of the limitations that are put in place by Government, employers, and educational facilities are a violation of what freedom of speech is really about, being able to freely speak your mind, but are necessary to protect the rights and liberties of other individuals. The freedom of speech is a very powerful right that is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Our Founding Fathers set the stage when they wrote the Declaration of Independence by stating that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Choices, 81). One of these liberties and unalienable rights was the Freedom of speech. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was......

Words: 2457 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

The Freedom Of Speech

...It is timely to consider the benefits and abuses of adolescent's free speech in school in this era when false news stories, that are nothing more than opinion have escalated and the freedom of the press is so often under attack. The freedom of speech is a core principle and right given to the American people under the Constitution. This freedom ensures the continuing development of democracy, as well as many other freedoms that our nation can easily take for granted. Institutions of free speech and freedom of press ensure that the truth is exposed and that ideas improve (Stark & Soltis, 2015). However, John Mill in his essay, “On Liberty,” points out that these same freedoms are cut back for minors still in the care of their parents (as...

Words: 1162 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...there are many types of censorship, and the types imposed are different from one country to another. Some countries may impose moral censorship; others impose military, political, or religious censorships. Many people would agree on some of the types of censorships enforced in the countries; however, people have the right of freedom of speech and the knowledge behind political issues, so these should not be censored by the country. Censorship is a problem that is known from before World War 1 and it is still a controversial issue with many people who are with the act and laws set regarding censorship and many who are against. Censorship is the restraint over any type of communication like speech regarding many different matters. For example, being against rules set or some political moves that a country performs, things that are considered to be harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people. These things that constraints are set upon are determined by the government, or media outlet. There are a lot of debates behind the topic “censorship.” One of them is, should governments put regulations on broadcasters, or does that affect people’s freedom, other debates are about...

Words: 3670 - Pages: 15

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...are restrictions on freedom of speech justified in Australia? While there are laws that restrict Freedom of Speech in Australia in order to protect fundamental rights and to limit discrimination which emerged from multiculturalism, the same laws can also clash with the liberty of the citizens and with the right of Freedom of Speech itself. Introduction To establish the boundaries between the defense of Freedom of Expression and of minorities has become a challenge for modern states. The consolidation of different groups (ethnocultural , sexual diversity , immigrants, religious) within the base community has generated the need to redefine and strengthen the defense of the human rights. As Will Kymlicka explains, cultural mix requires an inclusive process, which involves the establishment of a group of rights that recognizes and protects the minorities. Conversely, the ongoing struggle of the minorities has a major difficulty: the delicate border between the defense of their rights and the violation of the rights of the community. Firstly, this essay aims to explain the current conception of Freedom of Speech, since it is a controversial issue, focusing on the importance of that right for the Australian society and for the world. Secondly, we will analyze whether Freedom of Speech needs limits and the role of harm speech and offense speech in that topic in Australia. Finally, the third paragraph will focus on the restrictions of Freedom of Speech in Australia......

Words: 886 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...amendment and the issues we looked at, as stomach wrenching as some of the ideas and arguments were I do not think they went to far. The first amendment is a beautiful thing for everybody and how they choose to use it is their own choice and freedom. In any democracy there is a give and take, a good and evil, there are going to be people who do amazing and positive things by use of the first amendment. There will also be people like the Phelps family, who cowardly hide behind it, exploit it for all it stands for and push their radical religious views in a disgusting manner. Be that as it may, they do indeed have the right to do so and for every few months when we hear about their types of ridiculous behaviors and antics their are millions of others using freedom of speech for good and helpful reasons. 2. If we did revise, who would decide and what would be possible ramifications? The constitution states in the preamble WE THE PEOPLE, for no other reason than that, WE THE PEOPLE should be the ones who should have the power to change it. If the government wanted to change it the constition would be tainted for all it stands for. I think looking at it rationally where can you really change it? Are you going to change it to freedom of speech is ok only if everyone likes what you are going to say? no cause then what is everything you say going to have to go through a filter process? Theres to many hypotheticals to change a rule thats been around before we were here......

Words: 402 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...The Right to Freedom of Speech One of the greatest things about living in the United States is that it is a democratic society, it is considered to be “The Land of the Free”. The First Amendment gives Americans the right to freedom of religion and expression. This constitutes American people to speak freely without fear of harm or persecution. However like most things, freedom of speech has both positive and negative consequences. Freedom of Speech (liberty) is to speak and otherwise express oneself and or one’s opinion. The positive factors with freedom of speech are that one has the right to speak about something freely; rather right or wrong. The First Amendment restricts the government involvement based on content when expressions, ideas or opinions are expressed. Speaking freely can be done in many different ways; via the internet, television (media), conventions, work, the store, clothing, etc. The media however tends to be where most actions of speech are openly shared regardless of the topic or story. The media has a way to bring a story out, some positive information can be presented; but in most cases it appears to be hear say. Media allows the world (nation) to see what we are blind to, without it we would not know about our President’s and Senate’s affairs, our favorite sport entertainers and music artist violent actions, about what goes on in different countries, the war, our enemies. A lot of people find freedom of speech as a good thing, it......

Words: 478 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...With unreliable views and values, our culture needs to have unrestricted freedom to speak in relation to whichever and all that alarms us in array to constantly develop our culture. Individual free speech inconsistency would be words that create a constructive, and not pessimistic, picture in mutually long-terms and short-terms. Dictionary.com classifies Freedom of Speech as, “the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.” Freedom of speech is also known as free speech or freedom of expression. Freedom of speech is also known as freedom of expression because a person’s beliefs and thoughts can also be expressed in other ways other than speech. These ways could be art, writings, songs, and other forms of expression. If speaking freely and expressing ourselves freely is supposed to be without any consequence, then why are there constant law suits and consequences for people who do. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression should be exactly what they mean. Although most people believe that they can speak about anything without there being consequences, this is very untrue. One of those spoken things that have consequences is speaking about the president in such a negative way that it sends red flags about your intentions. Because of the high terrorist alerts, people have to limit what they say about bombs, 9/11, and anything they may say out of anger about...

Words: 1993 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...The freedom of speech which we enjoy is contained within the rights protected under the First Amendment, a part of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was added to the United States Constitution as the first ten amendments in order to gain acceptance and ultimately the adoption of the Constitution. Many have questioned the intent of our founding fathers with regard to speech and the freedoms associated with it. Throughout history, there have been many interpretations of the First Amendment, and just as many questions pertaining to which types of speech are protected. When this country was founded, many of the principles that were important to our founding fathers were important because of their experiences with the British rule. They wanted to ensure the new country and system of government they formulated would protect specific rights of its citizens. The purpose of the First Amendment was to guarantee freedom from governmental control. The founders of our government had enough foresight to see that no other right would be secure without the rights guaranteed within the First Amendment (Kanovitz, 2010), thus it has been stated that this is the most important of all the amendments (Monk, 2003). They left the language general allowing for the ability to make changes to the Constitution (Tueber, 1988). There were five rights specifically stated in the language of the First Amendment. These rights were freedom of religion, the press, speech, assembly and the......

Words: 830 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...Freedom of Speech BCOM/405 April 4th, 2011 Freedom of Speech The Constitution of the United States was written in 1787 and put into effect in 1789. The first amendment was put into place in 1791 as a part of the Bill of Rights. The first amendment of the Bill of rights ensures individuals freedoms of religion, speech, the press, and right to assemble. Freedom of speech will allow individuals to express their ideas freely. In the early 16th century individuals were taken to prison for speaking their minds and sometimes this penalty was punishable by death. This paper will define free speech and compare and contrast two different types of legally protected speech. Two examples of Legally Protected Speech are Commercial Speech and Artistic Speech. Free Speech Free speech is the reference to one’s given right to express opinions, ideas, beliefs, and information. However, free speech does not come without restrictions. Although the founders of the Constitution had good purpose, the idea of free speech was not carefully considered. Because the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the judges has fought back to define speech and the extent to which freedom of speech should be protected (The Free Dictionary, 2011). As a result of struggling to define free speech, regulations, and protections have been implemented into the First Amendment. Commercial Speech At one time, purely commercial advertisements had been considered to be outside the First......

Words: 583 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Freedom of Speech

...Argument Freedom of speech is a very important right that is protected by the first amendment of the United States Constitution. Freedom of speech can be interpreted as a way to voice one’s opinions by speaking freely without censorship, but this right is subject to limitations. Freedom of speech as a right includes not only content but also the means of expression. According to Article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, “The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.” As American citizens we have the right to speak freely and express ourselves openly, and as long as said expression is not being abused the government should have no say in the matter. One way people express themselves is through clothing. Instead of saying whatever is on their mind one can print what they are thinking on a shirt for the world to see. Case in point, Jeffery and Nicole Rank were arrested on July 4, 2004, on the ground of the West Virginia state capitol for wearing a t-shirt that read “Love America, Hate Bush” to an event featuring George W. Bush as the keynote speaker. They were asked by local law enforcement to remove or cover-up their attire, but the couple refused. They were then promptly arrested and charged with trespassing. This is a perfect example of freedom of......

Words: 516 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Freedom of Speech

...Freedom of Speech While I feel that the baggy pants issue is disturbing and distracting, I don’t feel a law should be put into place. When my children were in High School, each year the parents had to sign a policy regarding proper dress and what that entailed. If your child was felt to be in violation, it was understood they were sent home to put on more appropriate attire. This makes the student and the parents accountable for the dress code policy. Putting something like this into law is over stepping the purpose of the law. Our first amendment right of freedom of speech doesn’t include any language regarding clothing. Clothing is a freedom of expression as is tattooing and piercings. If we lived in a culture that being nude or just wearing underwear is acceptable it wouldn’t be a problem. This thankfully is not the case. The trend of baggy pants started about two decades ago in the prison system. Prisoners’ pants were tending to sag because they couldn’t be issued belts. This was due to the fact of causing harm to themselves or other inmates (Naik, 2011). Limits can be placed on what people wear especially when talking about minors. Until a child is of legal age, which is 18 years old, they can still be told how they can conduct themselves. It goes back to the parents setting boundaries with their children and sticking to it. In the article regarding fashion crimes, I understand how some of it is considered indecent exposure. I think it’s excessive to not only......

Words: 321 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Freedom of Speech

...there are two main arguments presented in the articles to ban saggy pants: 1) wearing this style of clothing causes a person to have an unprofessional attitude, which results in the lack of interest to become educated, and 2) wearing saggy pants might cause health problems. In my mind, the arguments lacked evidence such as studies, statistics, or concrete proof that wearing saggy pants is behind either issue; these accusations need more credibility before I could be convinced that saggy pants should be banned. From time to time we read about court cases where activists argue to legalize public nudity, so I think a person could certainly make a case that nudity is a form of free speech. Most often the nude activists argue that their first amendment rights are being violated, and that public nudity is a form of expression. Courts generally agree that public nudity does not violate first amendment rights, which was illustrated in San Francisco in 2013 when a lawsuit was against the city was dismissed (Dotinga, 2013). How “expression” is defined seems to be the point of debate. It could be argued that laws which prohibit people from wearing only underwear in public would be unconstitutional, but a form of regulation should be in place which defines proper dress codes. If I owned an indoor play gym for children, I would not want adults wearing underwear and walking around in the facility. However, if I was at a public swimming pool and someone was wearing a speedo or......

Words: 566 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Freedom Of Speech In America

...There’s nothing like living in the United States, where diversity grows from coast to coast and the freedom of speech is instilled in all American citizens. America’s inception created the need for people to be safe and secure while pursuing the right to speak out against its government and instill change. The thousands of immigrants who poured into the U.S. left homelands full of tyrants and voiceless societies. Many historical events in America’s history would have never happened without free speech. The voices of many were often quieted and banned from returning because speaking against your government was seen as disgraceful. How can this be possible? The look to America, as it provides freedom and free speech for all. Free speech has been...

Words: 1706 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Freedom Of Speech In Schools

...Freedom of speech is important is school because it teaches about your rights, promotes creativity and improves behavior. Freedom of speech is important because it teaches students about their rights. This is important because it helps develope a better understanding of how the government works. Freedom of Speech in schools also gives students a better understanding of the world. Freedom of speech in schools. According to Learning to Appreciate Our First Amendment there are connections between their knowledge and attitudes of free expression. So the more freedom they have the more knowledge they have. Students can understand and learn to respect their First Amendment rights Freedom of speech is important because it teaches students about...

Words: 451 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Freedom Of Speech In Australia

...It is free for people to Free Speech and Free Press, as long as it is within the boundaries of the law. All other forms of speech and press can be restricted by Parliament. In Australia, the freedom of speech is legal as long as it is not a form of libel, slander, form of hate message or lie and threat. Australia has 2 key elements that make up freedom of speech: Freedom of Opinion where in an individual is allowed to hold opinions. There are no restrictions or exceptions to this right. Freedom of Expression relates to any medium such as written and oral communication, media, public protest and artistic works. This is not an absolute right, as it may be restricted in some areas in relation to publishing defamatory information about someone...

Words: 290 - Pages: 2