Free Speech

If you haven’t heard, there’s some shit hitting the fan at the University of Washington over an op-ed that ran in The Daily: Gay marriage? Let’s stop and think about this by John Fay.

At a rally today, people protested the publishing of the article:
From seattletimes.nwsource.com:

Protesters say language in the column, including a reference to bestiality, coupled with the accompanying image of a man standing next to a sheep, amounted to hate speech. But speakers differed on whether the paper should be censured.

For what it’s worth, I don’t agree with the content article at all. Fay’s opinion is flawed. He has no grasp on the Constitution and what it means; he is, in short, ignorant…and you know my stance on that. Is it hateful speech? Yes, it hurt someones feelings. Should it have been censored and/or should The Daily be censured? Absolutely not.

Free Speech is still free speech (expect when it’s not, but this isn’t one of those times).

I’m not going to go in depth about why Fay’s argument is flawed. Mostly because there’s already a couple of good rebuttal pieces out there, partly because the reasoning should be self evident, and also because I have a final tomorrow and really should be studying. Thus, if you’re looking for a good rebuttal piece, check out:

Please try to refrain from making jokes about Fay in the comments.

Blogers Rights

More Inboxen™ cleanout time. However, this is something that everyone who blogs, or is thinking about blogging, should read. As a blogger you have many rights and you probably should know about them. From BoingBoing’s EFF’s blogger’s rights guide for students:

Do Public School Students Have Free Speech Rights under the First Amendment?
Absolutely. Both minors and adults have First Amendment rights, and according to the Supreme Court, public school students don’t “shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” See Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). In the Tinker case, the Court said that public high school students had a First Amendment right to wear black armbands to class in symbolic protest of the Vietnam War. “Students in school as well as out of school are ‘persons’ under our Constitution,” the Court said, and “they are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect…”
But I’m a Private School Student–What About Me?
You also have First Amendment rights, but those rights only protect you from government censorship, not private censorship. As a general matter, you will receive no protection from censorship or punishment by a private school or college. See e.g. Ubriaco v. Albertus Magnus High School, No. 99 Civ. 11135 (JSM) (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2000) (dismissing claim contesting private school expulsion for content on personal web site). However, as discussed below, some states provide private high school and college students with additional speech protections that go above and beyond the First Amendment. Furthermore, if your private school has an applicable written policy, the school must follow that policy.

Also keep in mind that even though your private school may have the right to enforce a stupid rule, that doesn’t make it any less stupid. So, if your private school is going overboard in trying to squelch online speech, contact EFF. Depending on the facts, we may be able to help you publicize the problem and hopefully convince your school to be more reasonable.

Link: The rest of the student blogger FAQ

Link: More Rights for Bloggers