Aidan Williams, Staff Writer
Free speech is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit today, but we feel as though many people don’t entirely understand it. During the controversy of the “Draw Muhammad,” competition, a competition in which participants were challenged to draw the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in the most offensive way possible, many people participating in the competition stated that any response from Islamic protesters was “An attempt to silence free speech, as granted to us in the first amendment.” The protests were not an infringement of free speech. The first amendment guarantees the right to free speech granted by the government and federal powers. It does not guarantee safety from protests and reactions from private groups and other people. While the people who responded to the competition were not justified in using violence, the participant’s right to free speech was in no way infringed upon. Does it work the same way in school?
This question is relevant to a recent incident at Central High School. According to Michael Moroz held an unpopular opinion on the death of Michael Brown, and voiced it in an incendiary manner, calling Michael Brown “A delinquent,” who was “Justifiably killed.” Whatever his purpose, backlash was inevitable. Were the death threats? Criminal Threats, the act of intentionally placing someone in fear of death or injury, is a criminal offense. However, they are very common in a situation like this. Moroz believed that Michael Brown was a thug, and many disagreed with him so wholeheartedly that they were willing to break the law to stand up for their beliefs.
However, more surprising than the article itself, was the school’s decision to take down the article, which, in a public school, is, theoretically, an infringement of free speech. As federal employees, teachers and administrators of a public school have a responsibility not to silence citizens. However, does this apply to students? A supreme court ruling stated that, because a school newspaper becomes a representation of the school, “Articles in the school paper that were counter to the educational mission of the school were subject to censorship.” However, is Moroz’s opinion counter to the educational mission of Central High School? What is CHS’s official reason for censoring the article?
Ultimately, constitutional rights are very vague for students, which paves the way for the censorship of unpopular opinions. While we don’t believe it was the school’s intention to silence Moroz, we think that he was silenced with very little reason. Unless it was his decision to take the article down, we don’t think the article should have been taken down, no matter how incendiary it was.
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