Thursday, May 19, 2011

Censorship, courts and students

Journalists tend to talk a lot about the first amendment to the Constitution in ways that nonjournalists often seen as condescending or elitist. Why should newspapers have special privileges, journalists get asked.

Part of the reason is the slippery slope argument. Limiting my free speech leads to limiting your free speech. An example from this week. A federal appeals court upheld censorship of an independent student newspaper at a high school in New York. The case involves a stick figure that a school district objected to when it was proposed to be in the high school newspaper. So the students created their own, independent newspapers. The school board objected and a court upheld them. Now an appeals court has ruled that, even though the new newspaper was not part of the high school, it could be censored.

It's only protecting our kids, right? The problem is that the law protecting students in high school by censorship has been extended to students outside of high school. Who says the next thing won't be personal blogs? Facebook pages?

And if you are going to censor, why stop with high school student productions. Can't students read my blog? Yours? What if I decided to run the objectionable stick figure. Couldn't students see it? This way lies madness . . . or at least fascism.

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