The Fine Line Between Free And Unprotected Speech
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

The Fine Line Between Free And Unprotected Speech

And why this is important for WWU.

133
The Fine Line Between Free And Unprotected Speech
ZUMA Wire

If I hadn't noticed the Western Alert text on my phone until later Tuesday morning, I would have thought that I would be late to my 8 AM class. Because the text hadn't contained any specific information, I did not know the seriousness of the situation. It wasn't until I went on Yik Yak and Facebook that I figured out what was going on.

When I finally read the email, my heart sank. I had been in Washington, D.C., when talk of a mascot change dominated the likes of Facebook and Yik Yak. There was much complaining, tasteless humor, and even good jokes that dominated these two platforms, but of what I had encountered, nothing that I construed as a threat or being hostile. I knew I could trust President Shepard about the severity of the social media content, because classes are rarely canceled and the school tends to be good with abiding by the First Amendment, thus knowing how to differentiate between free and unprotected speech.

Regardless of what you think of a mascot change, resorting to racist speech and blows to individuals are immature and unnecessary moves. However, for the most part, this is protected speech. The real problem arises when speech implies acting upon an illegal action, such as killing someone or destroying property. Threats are not protected by the First Amendment.

In another update from President Shepard, we learn of some of the speech, both protected and possibly unprotected, that contributed to the decision of canceling classes. Of what he was at liberty to disclose to the public, a majority of the problematic posts from Yik Yak had to do with lynching. These were directed at both individuals and groups of people.

At first glance, the First Amendment seems pretty straightforward, protecting the rights of United States citizens to free speech and expression, freedom of association, free exercise of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to peacefully assemble. However, as illustrated by certain court cases, such as Dennis v. United States and Virginia v. Black, determining what is legal under the First Amendment isn’t always easy.

Since President Shepard mentions that there was an effort to differentiate free from unprotected speech, a successfully obtained warrant from a judge, and a professional opinion that some of these posts may require use of the criminal justice system, I believe that a cancellation of classes was necessary, as many students of color expressed fear concerning the hostile environment. Students should not have to fear for their well-being in order to get an education.

In order for us to completely understand what has happened, we need to look at all sides of this incident and educate ourselves on how the law may or may not be on our side. For more information on the First Amendment, especially on how it affects college campuses, check out the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Most importantly, look out for each other and stay safe.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

6 Questions To Ask Yourself When Cleaning Up Your Room

This holiday break is the perfect time to get away from the materialistic frenzy of the world and turn your room into a decluttered sanctuary.

181
Pixar

Cleaning isn’t just for spring. In fact, I find school’s holiday break to be a very effective time for decluttering. You’re already being bombarded by the materialistically-infatuated frenzy of society’s version of Christmas, Hanukah, etc. It’s nice to get out of the claustrophobic avarice of the world and come home to a clean, fresh, and tidy room. While stacking up old books, CDs, and shoes may seem like no big deal, it can become a dangerous habit. The longer you hang onto something, whether it be for sentimental value or simply routine, it becomes much harder to let go of. Starting the process of decluttering can be the hardest part. To make it a little easier, get out three boxes and label them Donate, Storage, and Trash. I'm in the middle of the process right now, and while it is quite time consuming, it is also so relieving and calming to see how much you don't have to deal with anymore. Use these six questions below to help decide where an item gets sorted or if it obtains the value to stay out in your precious sanctuary from the world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Why I Don't Write (Or Read) An "Open Letter To My Future Husband/Wife"

Because inflated expectations and having marriage as your only goal are overrated.

12498
Urban Intellectuals

Although I have since changed my major I remember the feverish hysteria of applying to nursing school--refreshing your email repeatedly, asking friends, and frantically calculating your GPA at ungodly hours of the night. When my acceptance came in I announced the news to friends and family with all the candor of your average collegiate. I was met with well wishes, congratulations, and interrogations on the program's rank, size, etc. Then, unexpectedly, I was met with something else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Meet the creators making their voices heard on Odyssey.

3493
Top 3 Response Articles of This Week
Why I Write On Odyssey

At Odyssey, we're on a mission to encourage constructive discourse on the Internet. That's why we created the response button you can find at the bottom of every article.

Last week, our response writers sparked some great conversations right here on our homepage. Here are the top three response articles:

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

"Arthur's Perfect Christmas" Is The Perfect Holiday Special, Move Over Charlie Brown

Arthur Read is here to deliver the real meaning of Christmas.

4246
Pexels

As the holiday season draws nearer, many of us find ourselves drawn to the same old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and the perennial favorite, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." However, I would like to suggest an overlooked alternative, "Arthur's Perfect Christmas." It is a heartfelt, funny, and surprisingly inclusive Christmas special that deserves more recognition.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Reclaim Your Weekends From The 'Sunday Scaries' With 'Self-Love Sundays' Instead

Everyone needs a day to themselves sometimes.

3829
Reclaim Your Weekends From The 'Sunday Scaries' With 'Self-Love Sundays' Instead
Olivia DeLucia

Laid back and taking it easy — sometimes that is the motto we all need after a busy week. Sunday scaries? Yes, they are valid – but you know what else is? A Sunday full of self-love. A lazy Sunday spent doing what you feel needs to be done to ease into the next week. Self-Love Sundays are a guilty pleasure that isn't only essential for our mind, and body, but are also a surprisingly proactive way to devote the upcoming week with a clear mindset.

So, what is a more suitable way to dedicate your week's end than a beautifully, connected playlist to accompany your face masks and journaling? Cheers, to a Self-Love Sunday (and a playlist intertwined with it to match). (Please note: "Sunday Morning" isn't included in this list, due to the obvious, but feel free to blast it anyway, we know you want to).

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments