Essay on Censorship in Schools

2179 Words 9 Pages
Censorship in Schools

According to “Freedom of Speech” by Gerald Leinwand, Abraham Lincoln once asked, “Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its people, or too weak to maintain its own existence (7)?” This question is particularly appropriate when considering what is perhaps the most sacred of all our Constitutionally guaranteed rights, freedom of expression. Lincoln knew well the potential dangers of expression, having steered the Union through the bitterly divisive Civil War, but he held the Constitution dear enough to protect its promises whenever possible (8).
Issues of censorship in public schools are contests between the exercise of discretion and the exercise of a Constitutional right. The law
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Frankfurter undertakes to clarify the obscure nature of the national spirit:
"The flag is the symbol of our national unity, transcending all internal differences, however large, within the framework of the Constitution. This Court has had occasion to say that … 'it signifies government resting on the consent of the governed; liberty regulated by law; the protection of the weak against the strong; security against the exercise of arbitrary power; and absolute safety for free institutions against foreign aggression (26).'”
Frankfurter in this way reduced the active issue to whether a governmental authority was justified in determining appropriate methods to evoke and recognize the glorious and liberating national sentiment (28). The answer, of course, was yes; that governments were most certainly justified, as long as restriction was accomplished in the service of liberty. Frankfurter went on:
"Except where the transgression of Constitutional liberty is too plain for argument, personal freedom is best maintained -- so long as the remedial channels of the democratic process remain open and unobstructed -- when it is
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