Free Speech Zones: Putting Our Constitutional Rights In A Box

Free Speech Zones: Putting Our Constitutional Rights In A Box

Thank goodness we don't have them at Wittenberg
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America is known as the land of the free and the home of the brave. As American citizens, we have several important documents to remind us of our freedoms. Freedom from Great Britain, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and of course, freedom of speech. Generally, this last one isn’t questioned. Other than certain trigger words that can cause panic (i.e. fire, bomb, etc.) we are basically allowed to say whatever we want, right?


Wrong. Actually, if you further your education at one of the 55 percent of colleges in the United States with “red light” speech codes, your constitutional rights are controlled so as not to offend anyone who does not share your views. Any views, whether political, religious, sexuality-oriented, or otherwise that deviate from the norm are restricted. This may simply mean being reprimanded if you speak against the majority, or your freedom of speech could be restricted to a box such as this one:


What’s even worse is the fact that this is a larger area than a majority of the “free speech zones.” Frequently, the box can only fit about two people in it, and sometimes you have to schedule it a week or more in advance if you want a chance to express your first amendment rights.

When I first started researching this problem, I was under the impression the emergence of “free speech zones” was a new affair. However, after digging a little deeper, I discovered schools such as West Virginia University had these zones as long ago as 2001. Luckily, the campus has discontinued this policy, but still, that’s fifteen years of our nation’s colleges violating students’ first amendment rights! Does anyone else see the problem here?

Actually, several people do. A student at the University of South Carolina recently sued the university for restricting his freedom of speech. He followed the university’s policy on free speech by displaying a copy of the constitution within the free speech zone and speaking openly about how the university was restricting these rights. However, some students complained this display was “offensive,” and “triggering,”. Are you kidding me? It’s now offensive to display an important document in our nation’s history and explain what it means?

Even President Obama, our nation’s leader, has spoken out against colleges with such policies. Last September he stated that having rules that limit expression of different points of view hinder students’ education. He believes differences in opinion should be expressed freely and politely, and all people should listen to each other’s points of view so they can learn from them. President Obama complained colleges and parents are too inclined to coddle students by trying to protect them from anything that could be deemed offensive. He also stated that he doesn’t believe in boycotting certain books, songs, movies, video games, or other propaganda just because it may be “triggering” to women or minorities.

We, as a nation, are too afraid of offending people. While I agree we should not be purposefully rude to people, I also realize we, as college students, are often so afraid of offending people that we aren’t always willing to share are opinions. We are also afraid of being judged if our opinion differs from the majority. Why does it matter? If we took the time to worry about whether or not we were offending anyone around us or if our opinion was valuable, even though it wasn’t the most popular viewpoint, no one would speak. Ever.

Under the Constitution, we are granted freedom of speech, so we should be encouraged to embrace it, not punished for doing so or confined to express our opinions in a box outlined in spray paint. I encourage you to have a discussion involving a topic you have a strong opinion about with someone who doesn’t share the same point of view because that is your constitutional right. Thanks, Wittenberg; I’m thankful to attend a university where I can express myself freely and argue with points other students or even professors make if I disagree with them or just want to play devil’s advocate because we can all learn from a good debate.

Cover Image Credit: chaoticness.com

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Everything You Need To Know About The New Abortion Ban In Several States

DISCLAIMER: the following does not include any of my personal beliefs/opinions.

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Abortion has and will always be a controversial and very sensitive topic for all genders. The following article delves into the details about the Alabama abortion ban that was signed to be a law which, if it passes, will be in effect January 2020 and briefly touches on the Georgia Heartbeat Bill.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

In 1973, Roe v. Wade 410 was passed in the U.S. by the Supreme Court. In short, this ruled that the Due Process Clause along with the 14th Amendment in the Constitution would work to give pregnant women the choice to choose whether or not they wanted an abortion AND should coincide with the government's personal agenda to protect the health of all who is involved. What I mean by this is that the Supreme Court decided during the second trimester of a pregnancy, abortions would be allowed. But, if it is the third trimester, abortion is to be prohibited unless the health of the mother is in danger. This law catapulted the abortion debate which is still going on today.


Abortion vs. Alabama

Alabama's governor, Kay Ivey, signed off on a bill that will basically ban all abortions, including rape, incest, any abnormality, and if the mother's life is in danger on May 14, 2019 after acquiring approval from 25 Senators . This could be a problem considering that it very much contradicts Roe v. Wade (1973). To Ivey, the bill is a reflection of the values in which the citizens of Alabama believe: all life is precious and a gift from God.


Governor of the State of Alabama, Kay Ivey (pictured above). home.bt.com

The governor of Georgia also signed a bill to ban abortion after detecting the slightest heartbeat which is approximately around the six-week pregnancy period (around the time most women discover that they are pregnant). Another important take on this is that despite the rift and debate that is going on between Democrats and Republicans, most Republicans believe that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. This is looking more like a possibility considering most of the Supreme Court consists of people who support the Republican party. In short, the main idea is to ban abortion in all of the United States, not just in some states like it is currently. In regards to Alabama, the bill still has not been enacted into a law and could possibly encounter delay in the Supreme Court because, after all, this is a very debated topic. For now, abortion is still legal until January 2020 or when it becomes a law.

Conditions of the Abortion Law

The conditions of the abortion law explicitly states that abortion during any stage of a pregnancy is prohibited and if any medical professional aids in the practice/procedure of an abortion, they will face up to 99 years in prison. If an attempt is made to perform an abortion procedure, an individual can be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Women who successfully get an abortion or attempt to will be prosecuted as well. However, only those who provide another with an abortion will be punished in Alabama, not the one receiving the service.

No form of abortion is allowed including: rape, incest, life-threatening abnormality, or putting the life of the mother in danger.


Alabama expected to approve controversial abortion bill www.youtube.com


Two Sides to the Debate

Although most Republicans support the law, the Democratic party has combatted the notion of it. Many opponents of the ban state that the restriction can put the lives of many in danger and affects women of color and those who are living in poverty heavily. ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have also declared that they will sue. Many young people have also reached out to social media websites such as Twitter and Instagram to voice their opinions:

Tweets from individuals who are anti-abortion ban www.wnd.com

Many celebrities have also stated their opinions on the matter. Rihanna stated in one of her Instagram posts, "Take a look," referring to a picture of 25 Senators in Alabama who approved the abortion bill, "These are the idiots making decisions for WOMEN in America. Governor Kay Ivey...SHAME ON YOU!!!"

Although both sides clearly have their opinions on the debate of pro-life/pro-choice, one thing we all can agree on is that this will be a long process that can make or break the lives of a lot of people in our nation.

Until next time,

Salsa.

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