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First Amendment - Essay Example

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To my surprise, a friend of mine, Jacob Dominguez, decided to turn up for U.S. History class. Jacob has always struggled in school due to his unpredictable outbursts and unconventional mode of expression. That day he was determined to make most of the history class…
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First Amendment
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Download file to see previous pages She got furious, scolded him for being a failure all his life and quickly wrote him a referral to principal. Once Jacob refused to leave class, school security was called in to escort him out. Later a parent conference meeting was scheduled and he was awarded an hour detention for a week. Was Jacob’s right of freedom of expression under first amendment violated? Was the management decision justified? How can we draw a balance between rights and obligations under the garb of freedom of expression? One’s unpopular speech is other’s free speech. Is disciplining student a right reserved to college faculty? This essay tends to analyze these questions by comparing two essays from Stanley Fish and Stuart Taylor in order to seek a plausible role of first amendment in college campus. Stanley Fish, in his essay “The Free Speech Follies”, argues that there is general tendency in America to hide behind first amendment. He is clearly troubled by the double standards which prevail in college campuses seeking refuge under attire of first amendment. He advocates acceptance of consequences of one’s speech as there is never an obligation to say anything at any point of time. On the contrary, Stuart Taylor Jr., in his essay “How campus censors squelch freedom of speech”, argues that college campus policies violate the First Amendment rights of students and one shouldn’t be punished or penalized for what he/she say. Although, Taylor and Fish both make evenhanded arguments, Taylor’s arguments are more convincing because of his rational of a more comprehensive view of the First Amendment. Fish initial argument starts from Fredrick Schauer description of first amendment opportunism i.e., tendency to hide behind the first amendment. Both of them believe that “such claims are just moral, social, economical, ideological assertions but do not have any special philosophical and historical affinity with first amendment”. So, what was the philosophy which shaped first amendment? Wasn’t it to foster a society and land of free from tyranny? It was the dire need for protection of rights of all Americans to express their moral, religious, political, and other convictions / opinions that envisaged First Amendment. This philosophy shaped political, cultural, moral and social values promoting freedom of expression over the years. Critical thinking and approach is evident from Supreme Court’s interpretation of First amendment in series of judgments over the years. Therefore, it does not seem appropriate to assert that these claims have no philosophical and historical affinity with First Amendment. Fish is clearly troubled by the double standards practiced in campus. He illustrates it with example of editors in campuses. He believes that an editor exercise judgment when he decides what to publish or not and it is different from silencing and self censorship. Silencing means to compel or reduce to silence while censorship implies control exercised repressively (merriam-webster). Fish argues that no one is silenced because a single outlet declines to publish their work but still has choice to say what he wants to say. He believes “Silencing occurs when that outlet (or any other) is forbidden by the state to publish him on pain of legal action; censorship is the same”. He further adds “Self-censorship, in short, is not a crime or a moral failing; it is a responsibility” I agree with Fish on this account that there needs to be more ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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