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December 1, 2022

 

Regulating Students’ Online Activity

Cyberbullying has become a huge problem due to the rise of the internet and the creation of many social media platforms. This form of harassment can contribute to the disruption of school districts and students on campus. This has also helped raise the question, when do we limit what we can post online? According to the background essay, the case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District was about how two students allegedly disrupted their school’s environment because of their protest armbands. Later, the court decided, “…students…have free speech rights that do not end at the schoolhouse door” (Background Essay). This shows that we as students have the right to free speech anywhere, whether that be in school or online. Online speech should not be limited because it goes against our first amendment rights, it promotes the idea of censorship, and it won’t actually stop students from certain actions. 

If schools decide to limit students’ online speech, this would be an action against the First Amendment. The J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District court case was about a student, J.S., creating a cite about her principal. The school had suspended the student for this occasion that occurred outside of school. The court sided with J.S. and ruled, “…the School District violated J.S.’s First Amendment free speech rights…” (Document D). Having the student suspended was wrong because she had all the right to do what she wanted, especially because this action took place at her home. This shows that schools shouldn’t have to deal with issues that parents can easily have control over. 

Furthermore, regulating what we post online would be a way of censorship and possibly promote a non-democratic system. The first amendment in the Constitution allows us to freely express ourselves without any fear or drawback. With this in mind, if we take these rights from students we could possibly be promoting the complete opposite of what this country stands for. According to Laura W. Murphy, limiting teens’ right to freedom of speech, “…is a step in the wrong direction…” (Document F). Having the freedom of expression gives everyone of all ages the complete right to show who they are and say what they feel. It can be concluded that if we practice anything but this idea, we would possibly going against a basic right we are all granted as people. 

Lastly, solely regulating what students post online won’t bring a solution to bullying as a whole. Document F explains that bullying has, “…been present in human society for centuries…”. Since bullying did not rise due to the development of the internet, it won’t stop students from doing it; This will possibly lead to physical harassment and schools would have to deal with this bigger problem. In a survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Document B, the data shows that only 15.1% of teachers have actually been victims of cyberbullying and 38.6% of those surveyed reported it had no effect at all. Although cyberbullying can be serious in some situations, there can be miscommunication in the way the internet works and how others interpret certain things on there. 

Although, many people believe it is a good idea for schools to regulate the online activity of their students for their safety. For example, in the K.K. v. Berkeley County Schools case, a student created a MySpace group to harass one of her classmates. Document C states that the school had enough evidence to justify why they decided to suspend the student and the court sided with the school district. Although it is the school’s responsibility to make sure their students are safe, it is still evident that the school still invaded that student’s First Amendment rights when they suspended her when this occurred outside of school.   

In conclusion, it is well evident that the schools have no right to take our free speech rights yet they are doing this by wanting to regulate students’ online activity. Not only does this go against the first amendment but it also promotes censorship and doesn’t actually solve an already huge issue. So, schools should make sure they are protecting their students while also allowing them to continue to practice the rights they have already been granted.


Separation of Church and State

Throughout history, there has been an ongoing debate about the separation of church and state in the United States. According to an Oxford article by Steven K. Green, “separation of church and state has long been viewed as a cornerstone of American democracy.” Many people disagree, however, with to what extent church and state are currently separate in the United States.

In a New York Times article, Susan Jacoby argues that the white house is tearing down the wall between church and state. Throughout the article, Jacoby explains several instances in which the white house used religion to justify decisions made about policy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions used a biblical justification for Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was very biblical to enforce the law in regards to the same controversial policy. Scott Pruitt used Christianity to justify the use of natural gas and oil, and Betsy DeVos acknowledged that “some states will need more prayers and more action than others to bring about needed changes.” This convincing argument by Jacoby shows that there are countless examples of lapses in the wall between church and state within the Trump Administration. 

Mugambi Jouet provides a slightly different perspective in his Huffington Post Article about the recent removal of the Ten Commandments from a public high school in Oklahoma. Jouet explains that the Supreme Court tends to deem things that are specifically Christian within public schools unconstitutional because they send messages to non-Christians that they are not fully accepted within that environment. This being said, “the Supreme Court has continued to authorize the mention of ‘God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance recited in public schools, the inscription ‘in God we trust’ on the dollar, and public prayers during legislative sessions or presidential inaugurations.” This is because most people agree that God is “neutral and inclusive of all,” as well as “symbol of public good, morality, and spirituality rather than a religious concept.” While this is true for the vast majority of Americans, it still does not take Atheists into consideration.

In conclusion, church and state cannot be considered completely separate in America. Although there are many cases in which the supreme has ruled in favor of separating church and state, there are still many references to God and the Bible in the government. While there are still many questions regarding the controversial debate of the separation of church and state, such as the founding fathers’ original intentions and the real meaning of the separation of state, it is important to first establish that Church and State are not currently separate to further discuss these issues.


“Free Speech” In Polling Places?

In the following video, I discuss the issues of polling places and how the US Supreme Court has decided it is constitutional to limit the amount and type of expression in polling places. In my brief video, I quickly go over some wording of cases that have proved influential to the issue. Many people have claimed that restriction speech (such as wearing political attire, buttons, or campaign material) in a polling place is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment. SC cases have decided against this, though, if there is a valid interest and the restriction fits the interest.

 

I decided to write about this because most of my knowledge was surface level: I knew there were cases that decided this and I knew that it should make sense, but I didn’t know why. Now, I understand that protection of voters is especially important because of the change in voters, with more minorities and the elderly taking actions within their government.

 

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/first-amendment/