"Lying in a featherbed will bring you no fame, nor staying beneath the quilt, and he who uses up his life without achieving fame leaves no more vestige of himself on Earth than smoke in the air or foam upon the water." -Dante Alighieri
The supreme court concluded that not all citizens have the right to free speech in in the case entitled MORSE ET AL. v. FREDERICK . Thats right: our time honored fundamental principle of the United States of America has been limited for some. Not just limited but entirely removed. One may wonder who these substandard people of the American population are. Students.
Let Chief Justice Roberts of the United States supreme court tell you in his very own words: “the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings”. Our very own students don't have the right to express themselves? We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation, become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder "censorship," we call it "concern for our students." Maybe the reader does not know the entire story, maybe s/he is being lead on, or maybe it is something else.
On a fateful Thursday, January 24, 2002, Deborah Morse the principle of Juneau-Douglas High School allowed the school to watch the Olympic torch procession along the street in front of the school.
Assuming that he had the right to free speech Joseph Frederick, a JDHS senior decided to exercise that right. Frederick and his friends displayed a banner with the words “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” which are “just nonsense meant to attract television cameras “. Principal Morse immediately crossed the street and demanded that the banner be taken down because “bong hits” seems to be implying an approval of drugs. All but Frederick abided. Principle Morse suspended Frederick for 10 days. Her reason: the school board prohibits speech that advocates the use of drugs. The school board prohibited speech it disagreed with. Frederick was not displaying the banner in reference to the school. In fact he came late to school. The only reason it was related to the school at all was because the principal gave permission to be at the school.
After a series of appeals on the matter the Ninth Circuit court held in favor of Frederick. The court further concluded that Frederick’s right to display his banner was so “clearly established” that a reasonable principal in Morse’s position would have understood that her actions were unconstitutional, and that Morse was therefore not entitled to qualified immunity.
Does Chief Justice Roberts disagree with any of this? No: he stated this all. The only part he disagreed with is the right of free speech of a student. His argument is that Frederick was portraying a pro-drugs message.
Another justice in the majority, Clarence Thomas, wrote that the court should overrule its 1969 decision, deny free speech protections for students and return to the days when "teachers commanded and students obeyed.'' We as a civilized society must agree that all citizens have the right to free speech. Because if speech is not independent and untrammeled, if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference what the reason is, you are a subject and not a citizen. It is clear that Chief Justice Roberts does not think of students as citizens without any rights at all. The language of the first amendment makes no indication of sex, race, or disability, or age.
Restriction on free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions because the way to conflict pernicious conceptions is with other ideas. The only way to combat falsehoods is with truth. Suppression of free speech, and therefore suppression of ideas, causes those who live without it to become unable to combat falsehoods - the most dangerous form of cruelty – and therefore its suppression even for a child goes against the fundamental rights of man and child. The founders included the first amendment because they knew that a free democracy begins with the most essential and fundamental right of all: The right to think. Thus if the First Amendment means anything in this field, we must allow protests even against the moral code that the standard of the day sets for the community. It is against this cowardice that the American solderers fight for every day of their lives. They may disagree with what you say, but they fight to death for your right to say it. Why should students not be given the same chance?
The time of being a student, the time if adolescence is the most impressionable time of anyone's life. This decision of the supreme court: that a principle may censor a student merely because that student happen to be at the same event as the school, not even coming with the school, as he had come late, will bring us forward to the upcoming year of 1984. In 1984 where the only speech possible is the speech which agrees with Big Brother.
The supreme court once said 42 years ago that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Taking into account that the first amendment remained in full force and effect until this ruling was made there is no logical reason to preclude the free speech of a student.
Michael Smith, an attorney who represented the National School Boards Association called the ruling "a victory for schools across the nation''. It very well may have been a victory for schools, but it is certainly a loss for America.
None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Our students are taught that all have the right to free speech. It is now due to this court ruling that we can see that our students are hopelessly enslaved by those whom silence them: The Supreme Court of the United States.
The Supreme Court should never have even taken to debating this issue, and now with the conclusion they have come to it is clear that the Constitution was not used in rendering this judgment. I would like to thank the free thinkers of the past who were able to utilize this right while it was still intact for all for their quotes which are used in this document.
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