Court ruling shows hazy high school freedom

Almost half a century ago, in a case involving students who wore black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, the Supreme Court proclaimed that schoolchildren don’t shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This week the court declined to hear a case from California that would have offered an opportunity to reaffirm that principle.

In 2010, some students at Live Oak High School near San Jose wore shirts with the American flag to school on Cinco de Mayo. An assistant principal was told by a student that there might be problems as a result. (A year earlier, Mexican American students had reacted with profanity and threats when some white students hung a makeshift American flag and chanted USA.)

At the direction of the principal, the students were told to either turn their shirts inside out or take them off. Two students who refused were told to go home.

To a Latino student particularly an immigrant an assertive display of the U.S. flag by a classmate on Cinco de Mayo might be offensive. But some students might also have been offended by the anti-war armbands. Both are forms of free speech.

The students who wore the flag shirts sued the Morgan Hill Unified School District, claiming their 1st and 14th Amendment rights had been violated. But the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their claim, holding that the possibility of an altercation justified the decision to order the students to remove or hide their shirts.

Many parents probably would endorse that better safe than sorry reasoning. But it’s hard to square with the Supreme Court’s stirring support for student speech in Tinker vs. Des Moines School District, the 1969 armband decision. As lawyers for the Live Oak students pointed out to the Supreme Court, the officials’ actions were a response not to a clear threat of disruption but rather to unrealized and unarticulated student unrest. What’s more, the officials gave a heckler’s veto to students who might have been offended by the American flag shirts.

These are serious arguments. The court’s refusal to consider them is another sign that it’s ambivalent about the principle it enshrined in 1969 but has whittled away at in subsequent rulings. In a concurring opinion in one of those cases, Justice Clarence Thomas complained that we continue to distance ourselves from Tinker, but we neither overrule it nor offer an explanation of when it operates and when it does not. I am afraid that our jurisprudence now says that students have a right to speak in schools except when they don’t.

Although we believe the court should have taken this case to reaffirm Tinker, we agree with Thomas that school administrators everywhere are entitled to clarity from the court about what the 1st Amendment requires inside the schoolhouse gate.

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Court ruling shows hazy high school freedom

Shout Out for Free Speech with SupportStore's new "Je Suis Charlie" Rubber Wristband

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) March 31, 2015

Millions declared “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) in support of freedom of expression. One popular way to show what someone cares about is wearing a wristband that stands for the cause. SupportStore’s new Freedom of Speech rubber wristband is available now, with same day shipping, for individuals or organizations that want to rally around free speech.

The tragic events that took place at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters on January 7, 2015 in Paris, France left millions worldwide standing in solidarity to protect freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Many have posted “Je Suis Charlie” on social media to use their free speech to stand with the people of France. Although someone may not agree with what someone else says, they wish to defend their right to day it. Cartoonists around the world had to stop and consider if they were still free to fully express their points of view on topics of the day.

The SupportStore designed “Je Suis Charlie – Defend Free Speech” black 100% silicon rubber wristband is available now in a universal adult size. The band has a debossed message, filled with white and grey permanent color to highlight the message. Each wristband is individually packaged, $2.50 each, or as low as $.69 in quantity.

This wristband, and other items used to shout out about free speech are available on SupportStore’s Freedom of Expression assortment page.

A percentage of each sale is made available to be donated to one of several charities.

About SupportStore.com

SupportStore is an online only retailer of items people and businesses use to shout out what they care about.

Customers choose from 500 in-stock items that ship same day, such as a Hope Courage Faith black silicon rubber wristband or a black enamel on metal lapel pin. Customers can also choose to create a custom designed magnets in quantities of 125 or more, many delivering within 10 days.

With a total inventory of over 500,000 items, SupportStore can supply both consumer needs and businesses with products for fundraising events, awareness programs or memorials.


Shout Out for Free Speech with SupportStore's new "Je Suis Charlie" Rubber Wristband

Freedom From Speech: Why Censorship On Campus Must End

As Theresa Mays controversial counter-terrorism and security bill fast-tracks its way through Parliament, it appears we can now draw a distinct line under the governments short-lived love affair with freedom of speech.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, David Cameron spoke passionately and at great length about the threat this attack posed to our freedom of expression and our way of life. And yet, in an ironic twist this bill contains (among many alarming and possibly illegal measures) an imposition on universities to ban extremist speakers on campus and root out would-be radicals through staff surveillance. This will only serve to further marginalize free debate in places where it is supposed to be sacrosanct.

The response from students and academics to this latest instalment in anti-extremism legislation makes clear that its injunctions are about as welcome on campus as an outbreak of smallpox or Nick Clegg. Student groups across the country have been submitting emergency motions to their unions recently, urging them to take a stand against the bill.

However, there exists a bitter irony in this sudden spirited and widespread campaign for the rights of students and academics to say the unsayable and think the unthinkable. Ultimately these words ring hollow. When universities take arms against the threat to free speech from without, this only obscures the defeat of free speech that has been perpetrated from within.

You see, this flurry in defence of free expression and thought for students has rather conveniently coincided with the publication of the first ever Free Speech University Rankings by the online magazine Spiked, a survey that found 80% of universities, as a result of their official policies and actions, had either restricted or actively censored free speech and expression on campus beyond the requirements of the law.

The scale of this problem is deceptively large, and it appears that we students are the ones leading the way. 37% of student unions still clutch to No Platform policies, which officially ban all far-right and extremist speakers from campus. But now, Safe Space polices are becoming an increasingly popular alternative in students union politics, with twenty-two unions having officially adopted them. They look harmless enough on paper; Bristols says we have the responsibility to create a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment. While they sound commendable, they are, in fact, far worse than the implications of No Platform policies: a blank cheque to ban anything students unions deem too offensive, or too hot to handle under the vague, inflammatory terms of unsafe or unwelcoming conditions.

Student unions, it would seem, are only too happy to arbitrate what ideas we can and cannot be exposed to, leading to a growing sense of crisis around debate in British universities. In recent months, Oxford University cancelled a debate on abortion because protesters objected to the fact it was being held between two men; UCL dissolved the Nietzsche Club after it put up posters saying equality is a false God; the University of Derby has officially banned UKIP from its campuses in the lead up to the General Election and Dundee expelled the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children from their freshers fair last year. The Sun is not sold on dozens of campuses because of Page 3, and Robin Thickes Blurred Lines has also been banned by many student unions.

Explicit restrictions on speech, including, but not limited to, bans on political affiliations, religious sentiments, specific ideologies, books, opinions, words or speakers on the grounds of their potential to offend are all deeply concerning to me, and I hope, you as well. We are rapidly descending into a generation that believes its self-esteem is more important than everyone elses liberty.

Freedom of speech is not an elastic term; it means tolerating speech you dont like. Instead of shying away from real world issues like sexism, racism and homophobia we should be confronting them and contesting ideas on campus. I am offended when it is assumed that students are too fragile to even take part in reasoned debate nowadays the true solution to bad speech is more speech, not regulated speech. How can we as young adults be expected to develop as truly autonomous beings if the paternalistic edifice championed by the NUS that we need protection from harm from ideas is something we are at ease with? Safety is now being equated with intellectual comfort, which is something no institute of learning should promote.

Real freedom of expression can hurt. Thats the price we pay, says professor Bill Durodi, an expert in the causes and perceptions of security risk, at the University of Bath. Is fostering empathy with other peoples feelings valuable? One hundred percent yes. Should it direct everything you do? No.

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Freedom From Speech: Why Censorship On Campus Must End

Getting to the issues at the heart of the debate in SW

As someone who has taught literature in this state, tutored many, and has composed poetry, I thought it prudent to exercise some freedom of speech on the issues at the heart of the debate in South Windsor: the freedom of thought, the idea that human sexuality is a subject that exists outside the bounds of classroom discussion, and about the nature of obscenity.

First, the irony of this issue being sparked by the particular poem that was read in a classroom is not lost on me, as the poet who composed the work in question, Allen Ginsberg, was brought up on obscenity charges for his works during in his own lifetime.

Now today we would never think to drag someone before a court for the contents of a poem, as we recognize that art is protected speech. So, by todays standards, the likes of Lenny Bruce would be a welcomed headliner rather than a comedic deviant going bankrupt defending himself before judges for the contents of his act.

Were not talking poetry circles or nightclubs here, you say. This is a school.

So what is acceptable to teach at a school?

When debating this, consider how often any student comes across gruesome acts of carnage and brutality in their courses. Forgoing the violent actions detailed in our history texts or the modern events of the Islamic State discussed in a civics or current events curriculum one need not leave the world of literature for examples of permissible teachings that recall the most heinous acts a human being can commit, and which students discuss at length.

Selecting perhaps the most classic of all literary writers, well go to Shakespeares Macbeth, which recounts the rise of a would-be tyrant as he murders his way to power and glory, only to be stopped when the heroic forces decapitate the terrible protagonist to end his reign as ruler of Denmark.

Perhaps you say, Violence is a separate issue.

Fair enough. But there are works of classic British and American literature at the foundations of our curriculums in this state that contain sexual acts and overt innuendo.

Lets stay with the Bard and head over to Hamlet. Does anyone miss Hamlets meaning when he approaches lady Ophelia about Country matters? Or how about the rather sordid relationship implied between Hamlets family members?

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Getting to the issues at the heart of the debate in SW

Morocco court jails investigative reporter on adultery charges

A Moroccan court has sentenced an investigative reporter to 10 months of prison for "taking part in adultery", his lawyers said, but rights groups said it was another blow to freedom of speech in the North African kingdom. Hicham Mansouri, who is working for the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI), was arrested earlier in March after dozen of police officers stormed his flat …

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Morocco court jails investigative reporter on adultery charges

Act violates freedom of speech, Supreme Court strikes down Section 66(A) of IT Act – Video

Act violates freedom of speech, Supreme Court strikes down Section 66(A) of IT Act
SC strikes down Section 66A of IT Act; says it's unconstitutional: The Supreme Court on Tuesday scrapped out a controversial law seen as a big violation of the freedom of speech online as it…

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Act violates freedom of speech, Supreme Court strikes down Section 66(A) of IT Act – Video

Supreme Court strikes down Section 66A of IT Act – Big Story Part 2 | CVR News – Video

Supreme Court strikes down Section 66A of IT Act – Big Story Part 2 | CVR News
Right to Freedom of Speech on the Internet, the Supreme Court striked off Section 66A of the Information Technology Act that empowers the police to make arrests over contentious social media…


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Supreme Court strikes down Section 66A of IT Act – Big Story Part 2 | CVR News – Video

Phil Robertson Rape Backlash: Freedom of Speech Violation?

Phil Robertson recently used a parable at a prayer breakfast that left some people shocked and offended.

As featured speaker at the prayer breakfast, Phil Robertson mused about how an atheist might feel if his little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters were raped and killed in front of him, then his penis was cut off and shown to him. Might he realize that there should be some diety-given standard for right and wrong that people should adhere to?

Predictably, Phil Robertson caught hell over what he said. Even some Conservatives decided they had heard enough from this guy and did not want him to represent them any longer.

Phil Robertson is an embarrassment, not a hero, Katherine Timpf wrote in The National Review, and the socially conservative movement needs to distance itself from him immediately.

But Robertson fans and supporters quickly took to an age-old argument. It is the same argument that was trotted out when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut.

Phil Robertsons free speech rights are being violated!

Katherine Timpf answered that succinctly.

Again, Timpf is a Conservative. She built her career and reputation on reporting from college campuses about the marginalization of young Conservatives. But she is tired of seeing the Conservative brand dragged through the mud because of people like Phil Robertson.

But if Phil Robertson fans went after a Conservative for calling out their Duck Commander, you can imagine how they went after Huffington Post and Salon for remarks like these:

That the Duck Dynasty clan leader has a national platform upon which to spew bullshit is basically an indictment of our whole society.

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Phil Robertson Rape Backlash: Freedom of Speech Violation?

Dawson Classic Column: Freedom of speech is no excuse for speaking stupidly

Award-winning humor columnist Jon Dawson is no longer with The Free Press, but we are celebrating his legacy by re-running some of his greatest columns. Do you have a favorite youd like to see in print? Email Bryan C. Hanks at bryan.hanks@kinston.com. A version of todays column was originally published Thursday, May 23, 2013.

Weve all been in this situation: Youre at a party and you run into an old friend you havent seen in ages. You ask how her husbands doing, and she tells you her hubby hooked up with the baby-sitter, bought a mid-life crisis sports car and moved to Tijuana.

You vow never to start a conversation with any human ever again. People chastise you for being distant and anti-social, but youre just trying to avoid shoe polish breath.

The devastating storm that eviscerated an Oklahoma town this week brought out the best of whats left of our diluted humanity. Legions of people have volunteered their time, skills and money in an attempt to be a small bandage on a massive wound. Its impossible to believe every human on the planet would react in the manner these volunteers have, but thankfully, there seem to be more of them than the two twits Im about to tell you about.

Usually theres at least one jerk out of every 10 people. In the old days, the 90 percent who were deemed moderately decent would drown out the 10 percent jerk factor. Now, with everyone hunched over their smartphones trying to absorb every thought of every human with a social media account, any random jerk can broadcast their jerkdom to the masses.

Side note: Who has more Twitter followers? Perez Hilton an internet troll who recorded a song about gonorrhea and figured out how to make millions by criticizing people who actually have careers, or the American Red Cross a group known for helping the needy, those devastated by disaster, and members of the military and their families? If you guessed American Red Cross, then you are absolutely wrong.

As of this writing, Perez Hilton has around 5.88 million Twitter followers, while the American Red Cross currently boasts approximately 2.12 million. Maybe my 90 percent theory a few paragraphs up was incorrect after all.

The afternoon of the Oklahoma tragedy, Lizz Winstead, co-creator of Comedy Centrals The Daily Show and a noted stand-up comedian posted the following on her Twitter account:

This tornado is in Oklahoma, so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives.

Now what shes doing there (I think) is lampooning something Pat Robertson said about God sending hurricanes to Florida because of a gay pride parade that was going to take place in Orlando. Obviously what Robertson said was stupid, but Ill get to him in a minute.

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Dawson Classic Column: Freedom of speech is no excuse for speaking stupidly

Films, caste and violence

Its happening again. Actor Karthis Komban, due for release this week, is in the eye of the storm after K. Krishnasamy, leader of the pro-Dalit party, Puthiya Thamilagam, demanded a ban on the film saying that it would incite violence in the State.

The call for a ban has stemmed from the fear that the film could be glorifying the Thevar community, dominant in Tamil Nadus southern districts. This has triggered yet another debate on censorship and relevance of censor board in Tamil Nadu.

While freedom of speech and expression must be defended, one must also be empathetic and create space for those who disagree with the film, say intellectuals and filmmakers.

Tamil and Dalit intellectuals have criticised the film for glorifying the Thevar community, a politically and socially dominant community in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu

Filmmaker Prabhakaran’s Sundarapandian, featuring actor Sasi Kumar in the lead role, was accused of sensationalising caste pride and honour killing in the opening sequences of the film.

The director of Komban, M. Muthaiah’s earlier film was also hauled up for its pro-Thevar tilt. The film was accused of glorifying the dominant caste group in southern districts and endorsing anti-Dalit views.

The adoption of market economy coincided with the nation-wide mobilisation of dominant backward castes in India, which had its impact on cinema as well. Other egs: Chinna Gounder, Ejaman

Ravikumar, a Tamil intellectual and member of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, said there is a difference between freedom of speech and freedom to spew hate. The former must be defended, while the latter has to be condemned, he said.

With southern districts of Tamil Nadu seeing a rise in caste-related violence in recent times, an artist must not just view cinema as commodity to be monetised but as cultural product that will have a social impact, he said.

Just like cinema commodifies sex and violence, it has commodified hate as well. In a society where the message of equality is uncommon, an artist must challenge caste-pride and not normalise it, he added.

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Films, caste and violence

Amos Yee: Singapore Teen Mocks Countrys Founder Lee Kuan Yew On YouTube, Gets Arrested

In what is been seen as a curtailment of freedom of speech in Singapore, a teenager from the country was arrested after he uploaded a video that criticized Lee Kuan Yew, the countrys founding father. According to the New York Times, 17-year-old Amos Yee was arrested a day after he made an eight-minute-long video that celebrated the death of Singapores founding father. He also reportedly made offensive remarks against the Christian community in Singapore.

On Monday, officials from Singapore confirmed the arrest of Amos Yee, who has been described as a video blogger. Amos is due to appear in court on Tuesday, and if found guilty, could end up spending three years in prison. He has been charged under a section of the Singaporean law that deals with religious freedom and tolerance. Under Singaporean law, any individual found guilty of insulting religions, sharing obscene material, and offending religious sentiments of its citizens could be imprisoned for up to three years.

In the nearly nine-minute long video that Amos Yee uploaded to YouTube, he criticized Lee Kuan Yew and expressed delight at his death.

Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead! the teenager had typed in and briefly posted an obscene image on his personal blog and on Facebook.

The video posted by Amos quickly went viral, and once the controversy flared up, it was made private probably by the teen himself. However, there were several people who were able to download the YouTube video and upload it again. In the video, Amos is seen upset with the cult of personality that Lee Kuan Yew commanded for himself. He also believed that Lee Kuan Yew was a horrible person and added that several other people in Singapore shared his opinions but were too scared to publicly post what they felt. In the video, Amos also claims that he is not afraid and even challenged Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to sue him.

According to initial reports, it was a Singaporean lawyer named Chia Boon Teck who filed a complaint against the teenager.

The lawyer also wrote to newspapers in the country, saying, There is a limit to freedom of expression.

While several people have rallied in support of the teenage blogger, several other patriotic Singaporeans believe officials did the right thing by arresting Amos Yee.

Over the course of the past few years, there have been several reports of people being arrested for offensive social media posts. Back in 2012, two girls were arrested in India after they made a Facebook post following a shutdown in their state after the death of a prominent politician. Do you think Amos Yees arrest was warranted?

[Image via ChannelNews Asia]

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Amos Yee: Singapore Teen Mocks Countrys Founder Lee Kuan Yew On YouTube, Gets Arrested

Striking down Sec 66A: Unintended consequences as baby thrown out with bath water

Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act was struck down last week by the Supreme Court and it was hailed as a landmark verdict. There were several aspects of Section 66A which ran contrary to the Indian Constitution dealing with freedom of speech and expression and there is no doubt that the section could not continue as it was.

However has the Supreme Court thrown the baby out with the bath water? As important as it was to deal with Section 66A, the same could have still been watered down instead of being struck down all together.

Pavan Duggal, an expert on cyber laws speaks with OneIndia about the unintended consequences of the verdict. While it was necessary to deal firmly with the verdict, I still feel it could have been watered down by the Supreme Court instead of throwing it out all together especially in this age of the internet where cyber crime and cyber bullying are so rampant.

Firstly can you share your thoughts on the verdict?

I think first and foremost the Supreme Court has supreme powers to strike down any law or legislation. If the Supreme Court is of the opinion that a law or legislation runs contrary to the Constitution, it can strike it down.

The Supreme Court held that Section 66A is contrary to Article 19(2) of the Indian constitution which deals with reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.

To that extent SC has taken a correct line. No amount of restriction which is beyond and above Article 19(2) can be imposed. In this case the judgment looked at what are the reasonable restrictions and came to the opinion that since restrictions do not envisage the restrictions under Section 66a it has to go.

What are the unintended consequences that could arise from this verdict?

The fact remains that striking down Section 66A we have now begun to see a lot consequences. The euphoria which this verdict created was justified to an extent since it held that freedom of speech is sacrosanct.

However it has given an impression to the people that there is an unlimited charter to do whatever they want to do. These persons are having a field day. Cyber bullies are having a field day. Cyber bullying is victimizing schools and educational system.

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Striking down Sec 66A: Unintended consequences as baby thrown out with bath water

Supreme Court strikes down Section 66A of IT Act (27-03-2015) – Video

Supreme Court strikes down Section 66A of IT Act (27-03-2015)
Right to Freedom of Speech on the Internet, the Supreme Court striked off Section 66A of the Information Technology Act that empowers the police to make arrests over contentious social media…

By: V6 News Telugu

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Supreme Court strikes down Section 66A of IT Act (27-03-2015) – Video

[LONG CUT] Video Game Censorship and Freedom of Speech an Interview with Jon Festinger, Q.C. – Video

[LONG CUT] Video Game Censorship and Freedom of Speech an Interview with Jon Festinger, Q.C.
In this video, Jon Festinger, Q.C. discusses Video Game Law, Censorship, Grand Prix Legends, and the importance of Freedom of Speech. Below is a short summary about Jon Festinger: Jon Festinger …

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[LONG CUT] Video Game Censorship and Freedom of Speech an Interview with Jon Festinger, Q.C. – Video

New Today At Nine: What Should Be The Limits Of Freedom Of Speech? – Video

New Today At Nine: What Should Be The Limits Of Freedom Of Speech?
In a landmark verdict, SC struck down Sec 66 (A) of the IT act. In this episode we discuss – Should there be any restriction on freedom of speech on the internet? News Today At Nine, hosted…

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New Today At Nine: What Should Be The Limits Of Freedom Of Speech? – Video