Essay on Freedom of Speech

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Our forefathers worked to ensure we could enjoy civil liberties that they were unable to under British rule. In the First Amendments one of the liberties detailed is freedom of speech, specifically in that Congress will not enact a law that is “abridging the freedom of speech.” In 1925 the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment applies to each state ensuring that the constitutional right to free speech is protected from interference by the government. Freedom of speech can only be upheld so long as the content of which does not violate the law. In 2002 a high school senior, Joseph Frederick, revealed a banner for the Olympic Torch Relay while it was in town on it's journey to the winter games. The banner read “Bong Hits 4 …show more content…
It was because the banner's pro-drug message contradicts the school district's own drug policy. It's easier to agree with censorship when it's to hinder a message encouraging illegal behavior, but what about legal behaviors? Religion in school has been a legal issue since 1948 in the McCollum v. Board of Education case in which a nonreligious student was punished and singled out during a religious instruction. Why does the First Amendment state “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” and yet student-led prayers at school functions are banned by court order in the Santa Fe Independent School District? Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote, “It is dishonest to call any prayer 'voluntary' that is encouraged or required by a public official or legislature. By definition, if the government suggests that students pray, whether by penning the prayer, asking them to vote whether to pray, or setting aside time to pray, it is endorsing and promoting that prayer” (Gaylor 680). A government that endorses the religious activities of one religion over another aids in the segregation of the student body and opens the door to discrimination, much like in 1948. Freedom of speech isn't exactly perfect. If allowing prayer in school leads to discrimination, then what does vulgar language lead to if our media is saturated with it? In

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