By Amy Alkon
shared this story
from Advice Goddess Blog.
Free Speech Yanked From High School Students
Jonathan Turley writes about the ruling out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over a ban at a California high school of students wearing tee-shirts with American flags during the Mexican heritage celebration Cinco de Mayo:
On Cinco de Mayo in 2010, students who came to Live Oak High School outside San Jose were rounded up by teachers for engaging in offensive speech. The speech? They had American flags on their T-shirts, something the school viewed as insulting to Hispanics. Administrators insisted that only the Mexican flag could be shown on campus that day.
Last week, the school’s actions were unanimously upheld by the federal appellate court in California — a ruling that would allow flags and other patriotic symbols to be banned like profanity or hate speech.
In reality, the ruling is not a sign of contempt for the flag but a sign of contempt for the rights of students. The fact that this speech concerns the flag itself (the very symbol of civil liberties) captures how far the courts have gone in abandoning core First Amendment rights for students.
Disturbingly, contrary to Tinker (the finding that students do not “shed their constitutional rights … at the schoolhouse gate”), federal courts have been stripping students of their free speech rights at the schoolhouse gate, but not only there — inside their bedroom doors, for speech on social media.
It’s one more way rights are being eroded in this country as citizens do fuck all about it.
Turley delineates the ultimate problem:
Citizens shaped in such an environment are likely to view speech as a discretionary privilege allowed by our government rather than an individual right guaranteed in our Constitution.
Ironically, the flag is the very symbol of a nation of differing faiths, cultures and races bound by liberty. Perhaps the school was right: If you are going to deny free speech, it is the last thing you want to see.