Locker No. 319 at Warren Harding Junior High School in Des Moines, Iowa, is an unlikely historical site. But it seems fitting if you recall that the 13-year-old girl for whom it was dedicated last month is also an unlikely historical figure.
In 1962, the middle-schooler who stored her notebooks in that locker was a self-described “shy good girl” named Mary Beth Tinker. Even though she was quiet and a rule follower, Mary Beth was also moved by the carnage of the Vietnam War she was witnessing on television every night. So she, along with her brothers and sisters, decided to wear black armbands to school as a symbol of mourning for the casualties of the war and to signal support for Robert F. Kennedy’s call for a Christmas truce. Having gotten wind of the kids’ plan, the school district spontaneously instituted a “no armband” policy. The children wore them anyhow. The vice principal called Mary Beth out of algebra class and suspended her. Her family sued, claiming the suspension violated her First Amendment rights.
The case ultimately made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in a 7–2 decision, the justices ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Writing for the majority, Justice Abe Fortas used language both poetic and sweeping: Students, he wrote, “may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate,” nor can they be “confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved.” It was a landmark victory for student speech rights. Mary Beth and her family celebrated that event with ice cream and soda pop.
But that was then; this is now.
In the more than 40 years since its decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court has heard only three other student speech cases. In each of them, the court has ruled in favor of the school. While never overruling Tinker, the court has slowly chipped away at the case’s broad proclamation that students possess the fundamental right to express their views even at school. Tinker only allowed regulation of student speech if there was a specific and significant fear of disruption and cautioned that schools are not “enclaves of totalitarianism.” The court, however, has since green-lighted government censorship in numerous situations, including blatant censorship based on the viewpoint of the message and such malleable concepts as the schools’ stated interest in enforcing “the shared values of a civilized social order.”
The court is now poised to decide whether to hear the case of two other middle-school girls, Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez, who were suspended for wearing wristbands that read “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep a Breast)” to school. The girls claim the bracelets are a way to promote awareness of breast cancer, a disease that has affected both their families. The school claims the bracelets were lewd and indecent.
While teaching students civility and protecting them from possibly inappropriate messages are understandable goals, they come with serious costs. Punishing students for their speech robs our public debate of needed voices, and it teaches our children—who, of course, one day become adults—that censorship, even broad and sometimes arbitrary censorship, is acceptable.
Although they make up about a quarter of our population, children are not represented in our political system (cue jokes about the House of Representatives now). Children are thus in the unenviable position of being denied the vote, yet they remain the group most likely to be personally affected by government policies. More than 16 million American children, for example, live in poverty and rely on government programs for food, housing, and health care. They are the people who are most impacted by economic recessions. They are the pawns in our unending battles over public education. They experience first-hand issues like teen pregnancy, bullying, drug abuse, homophobia, racism, sexism, divorce, and domestic violence. They will inherit whatever national debt, environment, and global military crises we choose to leave for them to clean up. It’s reasonable to think, therefore, that they might have something to say about these things even if they have no vote in the policies themselves.
Barring the voices of children from our national debate comes at our peril. If we let children talk, moreover, we might actually learn something. Last month the student staff of a Pennsylvania high-school newspaper, for example, decided that the use of the nickname Redskinsby the school’s sports team was “racist” and “a term of hate,” and they published an editorial explaining their decision to no longer use the term (along with an equally well-written piece by the dissenters). They were called into the principal’s office and told they must keep using the term. At about the same time, a high-school senior in Virginia turned in a column to her student newspaper decrying sexuality-based bullying or “slut-shaming.” Her principal pulled the column, saying the subject matter was “inappropriate” and objecting to its use of political terms like “slut,” “sexual desire,” “sexual” and “breast-feeding.”
Along with reading and math, when schools gag their students’ speech, they are teaching them a lesson. Children who are censored grow up to become adults who censor or who tolerate censorship. In nationwide surveys of high-school students, the Knight Foundation has repeatedly found that students who receive instruction on the values of the First Amendment are more likely to agree with statements like “people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions” or “newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval.” Those who are persistently told by their schools that certain speech is off-limits, however, are less certain about these basic freedoms.
The attitudes of these young people—as the future protectors of our constitutional liberties—matter. The work of Yale Law professor Jack Balkin and the school’s Information Society Project has shown that public attitudes about free-expression issues affect the direction of Supreme Court rulings. They also found, however, that people are more apt to protect the expression they produce themselves or could imagine doing themselves. Thus students who have a learning environment that is supportive of free and open political debate, journalism, art, theater, and other types of expression are more likely to demand protection for those endeavors as adults. While it might be tempting to quash children and teenagers’ natural inclinations to push back on ideas or to question authority, these very traits are the lifeblood of our constitutional and political discourse.
Children are, of course, different than adults. And schools are, of course, different than a town square. This is why the Tinker standard wisely allows the school to step in when there is substantial interference with the work of the school or an infringement on the rights of other students. But the court has also told us that speech needs breathing room to thrive. Thus, as with any speech rights, protecting the core of expression means sometimes having to protect questionable, ambiguous, or even potentially offensive speech. Part of the great wisdom of our robust free-speech rights lies in trusting the audience to sort truth from falsity and valuable speech from nonsense. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent in the so-called “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case, most students “do not shed their brains at the schoolhouse gate, and most students know dumb advocacy when they see it.”
Mary Beth Tinker is 62 years old. She grew up to become a pediatric nurse and a youth rights advocate. She recently retired from nursing to care, she said, “for the civic health” of children. She has been touring the country telling students her story and speaking to them about their speech rights. She remains upbeat about the students she meets and the future they promise, and she is quick to remind her audiences of the Nelson Mandela observation that “[t]here can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
Perhaps the first thing we can do is let them talk. And then maybe, just maybe, we could listen.
Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone Heros Journey Essay Acme Corp Harry Potter And The Sorcerers
Should All Tv Channels Have Censorship Funny Persuasive Essay Topics Have Fun If Youre Still Here Then Youre Probably Looking For Something Special
Cover Letter Cover Letter Template For Exploratory Essay Examples Research Project Outline Outlineexamples Of Exploratory Essays
To Avoid This Danger A Research Proposal Writing Service Becomes Is Social Media Good Or Bad
Interesting Essay Topics To Write About Compucenter Colakest Ielts Essay Writing Topics Preview Topic Essay Writing
Choosing An Essay Topic Easy Interesting Topics Hereessay Topics
How To Write An Essay About Yourself Examples Quick Answer Essay On Self Introduction Fossa Schhh
Good Argumentative Essay Sample Gxart Orgarguments Essay Topics Censorship Essay Examples Symbolism Essay Argumentative Essay
Economic Essay Topics
Tok Essay Outline Essay Planning Template Essay On Summer Hard Work Essay Planning Essay How You
Fahrenheit Essay Questionscollege Essays College Application Essays Essay Topics For Fahrenheit Topics
Argumentative Essay Topics On Education Compucenter Coeducation Value Essay Binary Optionscollege Argumentative Essay Examples
Resume Examples Good Thesis Statement For Animal Farm Essay Essay Writing Service Research Paper Topics
Argumentative Essay Topics Special Education Essay Essays On Present Education System Of Brainia
Research Persuasive Essay Topics
Persuasive Argument Essay Topics Gxart Orgargumentative Essay Prompts By Dandanhuanghuang Writing Essay Argumentative Essay Prompts
Story Of Sex Nurse Prompts Censorship Claims At Northwestern Evanston Review
Cbest Essay Topics Gxart Orgcbest Essay Topics Cbest Essay Topicssample Cbest Essay Topics
Sample For Argumentative Essay Oglasi Coexample Argument Essay Sample Essay Outline Format Argumentative Sample Argumentative Essay
Censorship Essay 100 Essay Topics
Research Proposal Essay Topicsproposal Essay Topics List Example And Illustration Essay Topics Interesting Research Essay
Persuasive Essay On Internet More
Essay Topics On Lovenarrative Essay Example Topics Topic Love Essay
Great Research Paper Topics Phrasesuggested Research Paper Topics By Fjzhangm Ixtothht
Essay Topics Censorship
Informative Essay Writing Help How To Write Custom Essay Sample Informative Essay Sample
Inquiry Essay Topics
Science Argumentative Essay Topicsscience Essay Ideas Science Essay Ideas Good Topics For Argumentative Essays To Write
Ielts Essay Topicsielts Essay Examples Ielts Essay Samples
Related Post of censorship essay topics
Example Essay About YourselfEssay On My Family In EnglishSlave Narrative EssayEssay On Research MethodologyDead Poets Society Essay TopicsI Believe In God EssayArgumentative Essay Topics For CollegeFirst Day Of High School EssayEssay Outline Template WordUniversity Of Cincinnati Application EssayResident Assistant EssayApa Format For Essay PaperCompare And Contrast Essay Middle SchoolMy Hobbies EssayExamples Of Definition EssayHigh School Admission EssayCell Membrane EssayExample Of Cause EssayEssay Career GoalsDracula EssaysBystander Effect EssayLegal Drinking Age EssayCarpe Diem EssayOnline Writer JobsAny Topic EssayRomanticism EssayLife In Prison EssaySample Persuasive SpeechUk Essay Writing ServiceCause And Effect Essay StressExample Of Thesis Statement For EssayRichard Iii Essay TopicsDidactic Essay ExampleDoes Prison Work EssayEssay DailyArgument Sample EssayShould Same Sex Marriage Be Legalized EssayThemes For Flowers For AlgernonPhrases To Use In EssaysSample Of Proposal EssayTypes Of Essays And ExamplesExtended Essay Topics EnglishGet Essays OnlineEngineering Essay TopicsEducation Reform EssayEssay EditWriting Paper FreeBreak Break Break By Alfred Lord Tennyson AnalysisEssays On Leadership QualitiesLoneliness In Of Mice And Men EssayAone EssaysEssay On MothersEssay On ExamExample Of A 500 Word EssayComparative Essay SamplesImportance Of EssaysHow To Write A Narrative Essay About An ExperienceA Level Essay Writing TipsPaid Freelance Writing JobsInformal Essay DefinitionHow To Write An Essay BookEssay On Democracy Is The Best Form Of GovernmentA Good Hook For An EssayBeauty Contest EssayArgument Against Abortion EssayEssay On The HolocaustEssay On FlowersHugh Gallagher EssayExpository Essay Outline TemplateA Very Old Man With Enormous Wings EssayTeenage Drug Abuse EssayJohnny Got His Gun EssayJohn Keats EssayEssays On Teenage PregnancyReaction EssaysNursing Reflection EssayBusiness Argumentative Essay TopicsSample Of Critique EssayCover Page For EssayProse Essay DefinitionFirst World War EssayMacbeth Evil EssayEssays By Toni MorrisonEssay About George WashingtonThe Raven EssayComparison Essay TopicsWinter Descriptive EssayArgumentative Essay About SmokingEssay On PunctualityEnglish Essay Outline FormatExpository Essay TopicViolence In Sports EssayGenerosity Definition EssayProblem Of Evil EssayCollege Essay AssignmentDefine EssayExample Of Example EssaysHelp Write EssayCompare And Contrast Essay Conclusion ExamplesEssay On CompassionFreelance Writing ServiceLife In 2050 EssayFavorite Movie EssayEssay On Religion And ScienceTruman Show Essay QuestionsSchool Uniform Debate EssayName One Contemporary Of ShakespeareHow To Write A Composition EssayExistentialism EssayEssay About American CultureExamples Of Descriptive EssayEssay ProofreadThings Fall Apart Essay TopicsEssay On The Bluest EyeReflective Writing EssayEssay In Third PersonCourt EssayEssay About The WorldSample Essays For High SchoolModel Essay EnglishMath EssaySelf Assessment EssaysJava Programming Help ChatBest Topics For Compare And Contrast EssaysMain Characters In Oliver TwistA Rose For Emily Essay TopicsKatniss HuntingFive Paragraph Essay SampleSchindlers List EssayAnimal Testing Argumentative EssaySample Movie ReviewF Scott Fitzgerald EssayEssay On Work ExperienceDefinition Of Cause And Effect EssayDeath Penalty Essay ProMla Sample EssayLord Of The Flies Power EssayWho I Am Essay ExamplesArguments Essay TopicsHow To Write Cause Effect EssayDivision Classification Essay ExampleEssay Conclusion StartersEssay On AidsWhats A Good Argumentative Essay TopicSample Essay About FamilyCause And Effect Obesity EssayMending Wall Analysis EssayShort Essay Writing SamplesStory Of The AlchemistEssays On LiteracyGood Topics For Persuasive SpeechesShort Story EssaysEssay Health CarePersuasive Paper On AbortionHotel Management EssayWater Pollution In India EssayEssay About Water PollutionCustom Essay OrderEasy Topics For EssaysNational Integration EssayHow To Write A Transfer EssayImmigration EssayAnalytical Response EssayPersuasive Essay SportsBullying EssaysEssay On Technology And SocietyLeader EssayEssay On Personal ValuesSolar System EssayEssay On How I Spent My Holidays5 Paragraph Persuasive EssayProcess EssayGood Essay FormatReaction Essay ExamplesNeed Someone To Write My EssayA Level History EssayIntroduce Yourself Essay SampleChristmas Holiday EssayTwo Gentlemen Of Verona SummaryExample Of Descriptive EssaySample Scientific EssayMusic Classification EssayEssays About My SchoolEssays On Lord Of The FliesMcdonalds FarnhamPersonal Legend EssayMurder EssayAn Example Of A Personal EssayEssay On Abortion AgainstThe Veldt EssayIsland Of The Blue Dolphins EssayEssay On Teachers DayEssay On KidsEssay On Education Is The Key To SuccessExpository EssaysFreelance Writing Work From HomeAn Essay About Global WarmingSparknotes Kite RunnerThe Nature EssayHow To Start A Good EssayLord Of The Flies Essays On SymbolismSample Essay About My SchoolThesis Essay ExamplesEssay On English TeacherSocial Problems Essay ExampleTruth EssaysBaz Luhrmann Romeo And Juliet EssaySubculture EssayMy Holiday Vacation EssayCheck Assignment For Plagiarism FreeEconomics Sample PapersCharlie And The Chocolate FamilyTake A Stand EssayBeauty And The Beast EssayRomeo And Juliet English EssayGay Marriage Essay OutlineCritical Analysis Example PaperMy Favorite Sport EssayImportance Of Reading EssayEssays On Climate Change And Global WarmingEssays Against EuthanasiaRed Scare EssayEssay DreamIshmael EssayEssay On Physical TherapyWell Begun Is Half Done EssayExpository Essay On Global WarmingEssay On A MotherEssay On Civil DisobedienceCreative Writing Essay ExamplesIntroduction To A Compare And Contrast EssayIllegal Immigration EssayGood Descriptive EssayPay For EssaysPay For EssaySmoking EssaysImaginary EssaysEssay Global WarmingLiterary Term EssayEnvironment EssayWriting A Comparative EssayMr Smith Goes To Washington EssayMorality EssayEssay About Your Life StoryEssay Writing Tips UkEssay On KnowledgeFather EssaysAn Essay On Martin Luther King JrEssays About New York CityReference In EssayBattle Royal EssayMeaning Of Compare And Contrast EssayPaid Writing JobsWrite A Definition EssayEssays AbortionPersuaive EssaySample Business School EssaysExamples Of Thesis Statements For EssaysHow To Write A Good Descriptive EssayNarrative Essay StructureThomas Paine EssayStand By Me EssayFrankenstein Theme EssayEssay On My Favourite FoodEssay On Importance Of Education In IndiaEssay Point Of ViewCompare And Contrast Essay Outline FormatBeowulf Essay PromptsStudy Abroad EssaysPandoras MythHandmaids Tale EssaySocial Policy EssaysFunny Student EssaysAn Essay About AbortionThe Lesson EssayEssay Writing FreeAmerican Dream Essay Great GatsbyEssay About DiversityEssays On American HistoryEssay On Community ServiceDrugs EssaySmoking Should Be Illegal EssayA Separate Peace EssayEssay On Mental IllnessEssay On 7 Wonders Of The WorldThe Elephant Man EssayReport Essay TopicsAnnotated EssayWhy Is Romeo And Juliet A Tragedy EssayWho Is A Teacher EssayEssay On TelecommunicationArab Israeli Conflict EssayOn Compassion EssayEthan Frome EssayHemingway Iceberg PrincipleType My Paper For MeBackground EssayChicago Format EssayMba Reapplicant EssayScholarship Essay Financial NeedEssay Best FriendsEssay On Gang ViolenceEssays On A Streetcar Named DesireBaseball EssayPygmalion EssayEssay ReferencesGenetic EssayOrder An Essay OnlineSpeech Essay ExampleIs Capitalism The Best Economic SystemEssay On ObedienceCareer Goals Essay ExamplesFamous Argumentative EssaysHuman Trafficking EssaysHow To Start A Scholarship EssayProposal Argument Essay ExamplesWhy Become A Teacher EssayRaisin In The Sun Essay QuestionsResearch Persuasive Essay TopicsPersonal And Professional Development EssaySample Opinion EssaysContract Law EssayEssay On All Quiet On The Western FrontPhilosophy Essays ExamplesEssay LifeBusiness Essay TopicsHow Do You Write An Essay About YourselfEssay On Helping Someone500 Word EssaysEssay Civil WarEssay On Goals And AspirationsEssay On Andrew CarnegieBaseball EssaysCivil Engineering Assignment HelpAn Essay On ReadingDeath Of A Salesman Essay PromptsEasy Essay ComFaith Definition EssayThe Outsiders Essay TopicsArgument Essay IdeasSample Self Evaluation EssayPolitics EssaySample Process EssayBlackberry Picking EssayEssay On Medical AssistantGatsby EssaysBeauty Contests Are HarmfulRunning EssayFahrenheit 451 EssayPersuasive Essay DefinitionResearch Paper Topics About ArtBartleby The Scrivener EssaysPro Capital Punishment EssaysEssay On Qualities Of A Good LeaderMi Familia EssayHow Do I Write An Essay About MyselfPersonal Memoir EssayResponsibility EssaysCivil Rights Movement EssayGood Persuasive Essay Topics For Middle SchoolRabbit Proof Fence EssayGood Quotes For EssaysEconomics Essay WritingEssays On The Civil WarFrankenstein Essay IdeasNarrative Essay CollegeThe Scarlet Letter Essay TopicsEssay About Healthy LifestyleExample Of Rough Draft EssayIs Psychology A Science EssayExamples Of An Essay OutlineSynthesis Paper Topic IdeasEssay About OverpopulationGender Essay TopicsPersonal Essay IntroductionOf Mice And Men Theme EssayShooting An Elephant EssayBest Persuasive EssaysEpic Of Gilgamesh EssaysImportance Of Religion EssayHow To Write A Good Conclusion For An EssayPersuasive Essay HelpRabindranath Tagore Essay In HindiEssays OnlineEssay On E WasteGay Marriage EssaysEssays About FeminismAll About My Family EssayBecome An Online WriterEssay Writing Format For High School StudentsNational Honor Society EssaysReferencing In EssayStructure Of The EssayWriting A Descriptive Essay ExamplesEconomic Essay TopicsSample Graduate Essays For AdmissionSample Definition EssaysDeath Penalty Essay AgainstEssay On What Is EducationDictatorship EssayCritique Example EssayPersuasive Essay On UniformsControversial History Essay TopicsResponse To Literature Essay ExamplesEssay BodyLove EssaysStructure Of Essay IntroductionBest Custom EssayEssays FormatIntegrity Essay ExamplesCorporal Punishment EssaysEssay BanksHistory Essays OnlineBehavior Modification ExampleSojourner Truth EssayOnline Creative Writing JobsObstacle EssayArgumentative Essay Introduction ExampleEssay On The ElephantRespect EssaysFidm Entrance EssayEssay 1984City Life Vs Country Life EssayTypes Of Classification EssaysTime Travel EssaysIdeas For Problem Solution EssayHow To Write Self Introduction EssayDoes God Exist EssayEssay On Economy Of PakistanGood Topics For Illustration EssaysReflection Essay SampleBiographical Narrative Essay ExampleComponents Of A Persuasive EssayGreenhouse Effect EssayDifferent Topics Of EssaysEssay On The Cask Of AmontilladoRutgers Sample EssayUsc Essay PromptsArgumentative Essay On MediaEssay Questions For AntigoneWho Am I EssayAbortion Essays Pro ChoiceMy Strengths And Weaknesses EssayWriting An Argumentative Essay Middle SchoolSample Of A Definition EssayEssay Helper Online FreeSample Reflective EssaysEssay On MarketingEssay About LeaderOliver Twist Essay QuestionsShort Essay On HappinessWhere Can I Write An Essay OnlineEssay On Corporate GovernanceDeath Penalty Pros EssayThe Color Purple Essay TopicsHelping Others EssayWork At Home Writing JobsOne Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest EssayEssay About Immigration In United StatesOnline From Writing WorkCollege Of Charleston EssayDigital Divide EssayGang Violence EssayImportance Of Hard Work EssayDeclaration Of Independence EssayUnsung Heroes EssayEssay For PeaceExamples Of Classification EssayEssays Montaigne SparknotesCollege Paper Writing ServiceNarcissus And The LakeA Essay On RespectCheap Essay Writing ServiceEssay On LeadersInterview EssayShould Prayer Be Allowed In Public Schools EssayLong Term Goals EssayEssay Help FreeFlowers For Algernon EssayEssay Social ProblemsJob EssayA Philosophical Essay On ProbabilitiesAn Essay About BullyingLife Changing EssayElizabeth Proctor EssayHow To Write An Conclusion To An EssayPersuasive Essay RecyclingHow To Write A Personal Narrative EssayCheap Essay WriterEssay On UtilitarianismAirport Security EssayClassical Argument EssayEssay LiteracyHuman Resource Management EssayGraduation Essay ExamplesInteresting Topics For Persuasive EssayFree Creative Writing EssaysSample Sociology EssayIf I Had A Million Dollars EssayEssay On Psychological Disorders