The Destruction Of 1st Amendment Rights In Our Schools

1058 words - 4 pages

In 1787 our forefathers ratified the constitution of the UnitedStates of America, which contains the most important document toany American citizen, the Bill of Rights. The first amendment of theBill of Rights states:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment ofreligion, or prohibiting the establishment thereof; orabridging the freedom of speech; or of the press; or the right ofthe people peaceably to assemble, and to petition thegovernment for a redress of grievances.these freedoms (commonly called the freedom of expression) are ofthe most important rights in a truly democratic society. Withoutthem there would be no new ideas; we would all conform undertotalitarian rule for fear of punishment. However, when I, a commonstudent at West Rowan High School try to express my feelings on 'thestate of the Bill of Rights in schools today' by making a computerpresentation in multimedia class, my work is declared 'bad' and myteacher and assistant principal do one of the most un-American thingsimaginable: they censored it. I had to re-make the presentation andlighten the harsh tone, and also erase the anarchy symbol from it. Theteacher said that she was worried about me for reasons such as myfeelings on the freedom of religion were almost satanic, because I saidteachers should not be able to publicly practice religion in schoolsbecause it will encourage students to become a part of that religion.The presentation was neither slanderous nor obscene, but it didcriticize teachers and administrators calling them 'fascist dictators'.At first I was angry at the school because I could wear clothing thatwas obscene or contained liquor advertisements, now they havecompletely taken away my freedom of speech. This of course provedmy argument that teachers and administrators are totalitarians. Asone journalist put it, 'If Freedom of expression becomes merely anempty slogan in the minds of enough children, it will be dead by thetime we are adults.' I soon began reading more and more about thefreedom of speech in schools and every time a subject as such came upthe Supreme Court ruled in favor of the student declaring the actionunconstitutional under the first amendment. As I was reading NatHentoff's book The First Freedom I came across a story in which astudent wrote a newspaper article criticizing the school administration,soon after he ran for student government and was taken off the ballotfor his critique. Unfortunately he did not fight it in court. The principal sharply taught the student, 'The constitution of this school takes precedence over the United States Constitution. The freedom of expression in school is marred bysociety but not completely dissolved by the administration.The 1969 supreme court ruling Tinker v. Des Moins CommunitySchools defined a student's freedom of speech best. John and MaryBeth Tinker wore black armbands to school as a protest of theVietnam war. It was a silent protest; the Tinker's never caused oneproblem, although some...

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