Despite being one of the most talked about topics in the news today, free speech is only being used as a buzzword
by Isabella Franklin
Though it may sound like he’s discussing the results of a close football game, he’s discussing Charlottesville protesters who chanted Neo-Nazi phrases such as “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” while carrying torches. Why wouldn’t joining a group of Neo-Nazis disqualify you as a very fine person, or even an acceptable American? How is Neo-Nazi speech okay in the United States?
Free speech is an incessantly discussed topic in the news, but the discussion never progresses. The phrase “free speech” has been thrown around so much that it’s become a useless buzzword to raise attention and alarm. In reality, the definition of free speech is fairly convoluted.
The first amendment was created to allow citizens to speak against the government with no punishment. This is called political speech, and it’s the only fully protected type of speech. The congressional definition of speech includes symbolic speech, such as physical actions and displaying symbols.
The amendment doesn’t protect all forms of speech, however. Speech is prohibited and can be regulated if it’s considered defamation, fighting words, threats, or similar. Anything that isn’t unprotected speech or political speech is a gray area. Generally, as long as it isn’t unprotected speech, anything goes.
Now, that doesn’t always apply. Students are legally subject to their school’s rules. If school policy bans a type of speech and it disrupts school, then the school can shut it down. The same goes for platforms such as radio stations or ads, and private organizations; the government or organization may shut down what it deems offensive.
DHS’s code of conduct says that students cannot disrespect the civil rights of others, cause a disruption, display things intended to be offensive, be discriminatory, and must obey the law at all times. For an example of how this applies, if you were here last year the day after Trump was elected president, you might remember kids chanting “repeal the 19th amendment” (women’s voting rights) in the halls, along with making otherwise stupid comments. While they may have been joking, it heavily violates DHS policy. Free speech doesn’t protect being an asshole.
So, what does the Constitution have to say about arguments involving free speech?
One dead horse that the media continues to beat is NFL players kneeling for the anthem. Kaepernick’s choice to kneel is the embodiment of symbolic political speech. He couldn’t be in a more respectful position, especially considering that army veteran Nate Boyer originally suggested that position to respect fallen soldiers. The flag code doesn’t say you have to stand, and it wouldn’t override freedom of speech even if it did. People need to either focus on the significance of kneeling or stop talking about it, because nothing is being accomplished.
Something that doesn’t fall so neatly into protected speech is Trump’s constant flow of insults. One of many cases of this defamation is him accusing women suing him for assault of lying. His attorney is defending him by saying that calling them liars is political speech. If “political speech” means “any comment on anything that involves the law,” then sure. Otherwise, this was just a characteristically ineloquent and non-political ad hominem attack.
This brings us back to the idea that Neo-Nazis have fine people among them. They went on a liberal campus, shouting inflammatory phrases to cause tension, anger, fear, and, ultimately, violence: the exact definition of fighting words. Their actions shouldn’t be supported by any American who believes in the Constitution’s establishment of our rights. Yet, people still choose to focus on some NFL players rather than real issues.
America is, at least in concept, founded on respect and liberty. Freedom of expression was established so that anyone could safely practice whichever religion they wanted, fight for whichever causes they believed in, and more; it wasn’t established so that people could denigrate others for their own gain. Americans have yet to live up to the potential for equality and unity that our government set up for us.
How can Americans call people exercising their right to free speech to peacefully protest un-American while arguing in favor for giving people as disgusting and un-American as Neo-Nazis a platform?
A complete guide explaining how to navigate yourself through politics at DHS
By Tyler Valentine
Politics have been a sensitive topic of conversation at DHS recently. There are people whose new trigger word is Trump, and other people that will take the excitement of him winning the election to their grave. It seems as if people are having trouble sharing their opinion without offending others or just taking it to unnecessary extremes. If we can all follow these three simple steps, our school will become a much more enjoyable place to be, and we could bring social media back to better times
Step 1: Sharing your opinion
Guys, we get it, Hillary lost, our country is doomed and the world is more likely than not going to burst into flames. Seriously though… it’s been two months. It’s time to get over it and accept, despite your hashtags, Donald Trump is your president. People want to hear you cry about that just as much as you want to hear people celebrating about Trump
Congratulations, Donald Trump has won the election and is now the most powerful man in the world. We are all very aware of this. So, just like the Hillary supporters, feel free to stop celebrating anytime now. How would you feel if Hillary had won and her supporters were still talking about
Step 2: Social media
The best way to go about politics on social media is to just keep the two completely seperate. I’m sorry to break it to you, but seeing someone tweet things such as “#NotMyPresident” annoys the majority of your followers just as much as when you see someone retweeting Cloyd Rivers.
Now I’m not totally against the Cloyd Rivers account. Some of it is positive things about veterans that nobody minds reading. It’s seeing my timeline full of Cloyd Rivers that angers me. Don’t play dumb. We all know the difference between good tweets and ones meant to piss someone off.
Step 3: Accepting other opinions
Remember the Golden Rule? One of the first things we were taught way back in kindergarten? Well, if not, it stated: “Treat others how you wish to be treated.” I’m sorry to say it, but the liberals seem to be the ones that are the least accepting of political opinions. I know they’re always preaching about how we all should be accepting of race, religion, etc. yet continue to ridicule conservatives for what they believe in. I may be wrong, but that seems pretty hypocritical to me.
Conservatives, don’t think you’re off the hook with the whole Golden Rule idea. I see how you try to play victim for the liberals judging you based on your opinion, yet you do the same thing. In the end, we are all the same, judgemental people with views that slightly differ from one another. So how about instead of criticizing each other we look at ourselves first.
We all just need to take a deep breath and chill on the politics, both on social media and just in general. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I would like nothing more than to have a politics-free social media and school environment. Let’s all just be more accepting of each other’s beliefs and maybe take a second to see them for more than just their face value. If you think you’re right and anybody that doesn’t think exactly like you is wrong, please, for the well-being of everyone around you, keep it to yourself.
Dear Mr. President,
Congratulations on being elected as the leader of the United States of America. You are now the most powerful man in the world, and with that power comes much responsibility. You truly do have the ability to do good things if you choose.
My name is Alex Strang. I am from Dexter, Michigan, a small town seven miles outside of Ann Arbor. I have moderate conservative views, but I try to remain unbiased. I think for myself and believe that it’s best to not let a political party influence my views. I am only an 18-year old senior in high school, and nowhere near an expert on politics.
Your focus on national security will benefit Americans by making this country safer. The safety of every American citizen is important no matter race or gender. I support you to continue to improve the national security of this country, just as President Obama did. I come from a law enforcement and military family, so I agree with your strong support of them. At a time like this, it is important that the public and law enforcement work together to create healthier relationships. I believe people need to realize the police are not bad the guys and they are just doing their job.
Your “America First” ideology has the potential to benefit our country with trade deals and a foreign policy that puts our country first.
But, Mr. President, a true “America First” policy means protecting all Americans, especially at a time like this where millions feel threatened, specifically women. They are equally as important as the men in this country. This is the United States of America, not the Middle East.
You say you want to eliminate ISIS, which I am all for, but by attempting to take away a woman’s reproductive rights, aren’t we beginning to stoop to their level? A level where schools are blown up to scare women from attending them to get an education equal to men. A level where people are killed to keep women from voting.
We are better than that. This country does not follow Sharia Law. In this country, women are recognized as just as faithful and intelligent as males, constitutionally they share equal rights with males, every girl goes to school here. This is not the case in every country. So, why threaten their rights when those rights in question do not have any effect on you or any other male politician?
A true America First policy means standing up for women, supporting their rights, and protecting them, not putting them down or trying to take away their reproductive rights. If you or other people are pro-life, then I respect that. I also respect the woman’s decision to make that choice herself. As a man, I cannot make that choice, nor should any male politician regardless of government position or political affiliation. You, and others with the same belief, can exercise that belief simply by not having an abortion.
Today in America, a woman can serve in most jobs in the military, while in the Middle East, they are put down, beaten, and sexually assaulted with no punishment for the men who commit these acts. These are the same countries where we send American troops. We cannot stoop to this level especially with how far we have come in this nation. A nation where a woman has equal say in elections, government positions, and marriage, as she should.
Women in this country are afraid. That should not be a problem. Ever. No matter what. Every American citizen should be proud to call the United States home, just as I am. They should not have to worry about already established rights being taken away because of an administration’s beliefs.
I know the media takes many things out of context and blows things out of proportion, but this is not something that is being made up by the media. Threatening to defund Planned Parenthood or attempting to take away a woman’s right to have a child is threatening the rights of a woman.
Mr. President, if an “America First” policy means stricter border control, then it also has to mean stricter environmental regulations. Why regulate our borders when the environment all around us is changing for the worse? No matter what political party you associate with, you have to recognize climate change is real.
We cannot afford to hurt this earth anymore. Just like all of our American citizens, we have to protect and stand up for planet earth. Further destroying the earth for monetary gain may seem worth it for big businesses on the short term level, but those CEOs and executives who want fewer EPA restrictions will one day have children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who have to live in a world where the climate is worsened because of their greed.
When I graduate from college, I want to one day serve my country and lead soldiers in the Army for this nation. I am willing to serve this country with everything I have and protect the freedoms that have been set forth by our founding fathers. What I do not want to see is our country fall apart due to a division of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.
I do not want my future wife to be worrying about attempts to revoke a right that was ruled constitutional in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. I do not want my future wife to feel put down by the words and actions of the President. I don’t want her to feel threatened by a man or a congress whom she has never met, the same way I don’t want her to feel threatened by terrorists or criminals. I don’t want my future daughter to feel as though her rights are threatened. I want my future kids to be able to play outside in air that is fresh and free of pollution. I want my future family to be able to experience the activities of all four seasons from skiing in the winter to swimming in clean water in the summer.
If we are going to have a true “America First” policy, we need to be committed, not just part way, not just the parts that one political party wants, but fully committed. That includes protecting women’s rights and protecting this planet we call home.
You will not see me in the streets protesting, but if so many people feel threatened that they need to take such a strong stance, then something needs to change. Nor will you hear me saying “not my president,” because I understand, Sir, you are the President. You are the Commander’ n Chief of the free world.
You have the power to do many things. This country needs more than ever to come together, which will take effort and compromise from all political parties and people from all walks of life.
All Americans, every single one, need to come together to truly make a country that is currently more divided than ever, “Great Again,” and it begins with you, Mr. President.
Let’s begin the process of uniting this country, and truly putting all Americans first before yourself.
President-elect Donald Trump’s policies lack attention towards one of the most important issues: the environment
By Megan Sarns
In the words of Hillary Clinton, “…whoever wins this election, the outcome will be historic. We’ll either have the first female president or the first president who started a Twitter war with Cher.”
As of November 8, 2016, America voted to elect the latter.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you know Trump has, to put it kindly, some pretty radical ideas for how he wants to run the country. Many of these are highlighted on the “issues” page on his website.
This page consists of a series of videos you can watch where Trump sits in front of a generic background and yells at you for about a minute, saying everything from “being politically correct just takes too much time” and “we have a border that’s like a piece of swiss cheese.”
I watched every single one of these videos as well every section under his website’s “policies” page and something struck me. It wasn’t necessarily what Trump said he plans to do. I’ve been appalled by that long before I sat down to write this article. It was rather what he plans not to do and what he fails to prioritize.
Nowhere on Donald Trump’s website does he talk about the environment.
Looking beyond his website, it turns out Trump has talked about his plans for the environment, albeit not in a good way.
Trump has spoken out against the Paris Agreement and says he plans to “cancel” it. The Paris Agreement, ratified in October 2016, requires countries to decrease greenhouse gas emissions with a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature as controlled as possible.
In addition, Trump also plans to cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, a government agency that devotes its resources to “[protecting Americans] from significant risk to human health and the environment.”
Some sources, such as ClimateWire, have said that he has reportedly chosen a leader for his EPA transition team: Myron Ebell. The first sentence on Ebell’s Wikipedia page is “Myron Ebell is an American global warming skeptic.”
To clarify, that means the person Trump’s wants to put in charge of environmental concerns doesn’t even believe they’re happening.
On October 31, Trump made clear his position on this issue when he spoke at a rally in Warren, Michigan.
“We’re going to put America first,” he said. “That includes canceling billions in climate change spending for the United Nations…and instead use that money to provide for American infrastructure including clean water, clean air, and safety.”
Sure, “clean water, clean air, and safety” sounds great, but the context behind these cuts is disturbing. At the end of the day, it won’t matter if America is first, second, or even last, if Earth becomes unlivable.
We have elected into presidential office a man who disregards all scientific evidence of climate change and instead claimed that it was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” in a tweet he made in 2012.
The fact that our planet is at risk has become a controversial political statement is appalling. We cannot afford four years of a president who refuses to acknowledge the problem, let alone take steps toward solving it.
Young people need to look beyond social media platforms while formulating political opinions
By Megan Sarns
The presidential race is a marketing campaign, and we are the target audience. Although few will be eligible to vote in November, millennials of all ages have been influential players throughout the entire process, from the initial debates and dwindling of candidates to primaries to the Democratic and Republican conventions.
Earning the support of young voters has always held significance; in a political landscape where a higher percentage of voters hover around the age of 45, locking down the 18-30 demographic can provide a boost to a candidate’s numbers on election day.
With that said, in this election, appealing to a younger audience seems all the more important, and politicians have had to adjust their campaigns to the way our generation is informed of political issues.
Why do politicians market to a younger audience? Young minds are malleable to change. Older voters are likely to have already committed to a political party and ideology and are harder to reach; young voters are still developing their ideas and opinions.
Social media makes them more accessible and allows politicians to speak directly to their audience.
If a political party is able to earn the support of someone while they’re young through the use of social media, they can nurture that support for life.
In earlier generations, parents had a dominant role in the beliefs of their children, but parents’ political influence has diminished as the information kids have access to has become harder to control due to the internet.
However, young people should be wary of the way politicians reach out to their audience. Millennials can be easily manipulated by tweets and trending hashtags that barely scratch the surface of what a politician or political party represents.
In a world of instant gratification and unlimited knowledge, the way information is processed is complex; to truly understand the product, the buyer needs to look beyond 140 characters.