Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is restricted from use of obscene or harmful language that leads to disruption. Keynes (582) says that there was no evidence that the t-shirt caused disruption in school. This means that according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that the message is not the problem but the consequences caused by the message. In the same manner, the court decides that, a speech whether using sexual or abusive language is alright as long as it does not cause disruption, ruling a case in favor of a young immature vulgar speaker. Free speech is also limited to the place of expression and free speech is limited in schools. Carrying confederate flags or using such like symbols is prohibited by the 11th circuit court but permitted by the 6th court (582). The court has often conflicted on issues concerning freedom of speech. On one hand, the court allows students to carry confederate flags to school and on the other hand prohibit it. It should also be noted that, whereas adults decide what to listen to and what not to listen to, public school children should not be subjected to vulgar and immoral content.

The Supreme Court came in to clarify the issue of speech in public schools. First, there is need to balance controversial views in schools against societal interests. Children whether in schools or at homes need to learn appropriate and moral behavior. It is not right therefore, to expose young school going children to corrosive and abusive language. Secondly, America has been able to establish right mode of conduct among legislatures who amend the laws governing the Nation. They are forbidden from using abusive or immoral language in the congress. In the same manner, schools need to conduct in an appropriate way. If it is possible to ensure moral standards among legislators, it should be easier in public schools (585). Thirdly, the court says that, the freedom guaranteed by the first amendment is only applicable to matters of public disclose. This public discloses differentiates the young from the adults. Adults are allowed to use certain forms of expression termed offensive to pass across some political opinion but this does not apply to the young people. Adults are more mature and therefore they make better judgment than young school going children. Children need to be brought in a morally upright manner, clearly distinguishing right from wrong then left to choose their own path when they are mature. The court also found it wrong to praise male sexuality in the presence of all sexes. It was abusive to the teenage girls and embarrassing to the mature individuals (585). The court concluded that the school conduct is a matter that should be decided on by the school board as it deemed appropriate.

Justice Marshall had a totally different opinion from that of the Supreme Court. He reasoned that, the school had no evidence to prove that the speech was indeed disruptive. Justice Marshall rules in favor of Fraser because the school doesn’t have proof that his speech disrupted the educational process. It is worth noting that, Justice Marshall recognizes the mandate of the schools’ administration but not on matters concerning free speech (586).

The case was argued in 1986. Do you think the case would be treated in the same way today?

Today, the case would be handled differently. A speech like that can hardly be tolerated in this time and age. People are more careful about what they expose the young ones to. I believe that time has changed the way people of United States viewed things. The Nation at large has realized that even the seemingly minor mistakes have consequences. A speech like that is abusive to young teenage girls because it makes them feel unworthy. They should not be subjected to such filth of praising male sexuality. The entire world today is fighting to achieve equality in terms of race, religion and gender and America is no exception, no sex is superior to the other. I think that when a young male is exposed to such speech, he is likely to develop the feeling of superiority complex and might turn out to be abusive to the female gender. A speech like that is also embarrassing especially to mature people. I believe the teachers felt totally out of place as the speech was being delivered. It was very disrespectful of the young scholar to proudly deliver such content in the presence of people who might have been age mates with his parents. The Freedom of Speech should not be misused. Instead it should be used in the right way. This way should not offend other citizens despite their age, sex or race.

Consider how key terms, such as “offensive” and “disruptive,” were debated over and defined in the court opinions.

According to the courts, a disruptive situation in a school setting is a physical situation whereby students are either fighting between themselves or fighting the teachers, probably causing learning to stop temporarily. Offensive, according to the court hearing officer is anything that someone does not agree with. In this case, he determined the speech as being offensive because it was unfriendly to other listeners (583). According to the courts, the punishment that Fraser underwent is a violation because they find nothing wrong with his speech and the school considers it a violation when Fraser does not abide by the rules of the school.  

You may also want to draw upon the handout readings on free speech to see how free speech has been defined in various contexts.

According to Barbara’s article of creative freedom, free speech is the use of creative innovation (music in this case) to pass across a message (587). However, the music in this context is violent and can cause much harm to people. Free speech means the right that every individual has to express his views as long as they don’t violate the rights of others (589). Free speech also means that every American has a right to speak out any daring truth however contradictory it may be (589). Commercially, free speech allows marketers to advertise and market their products according to their wish (591). Consumers however have the right of listening and watching what they want to, and avoiding what they feel is inappropriate. 

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