I recently read a blurb about an ongoing contest mentioned in the Nashua Telegraph. Here's what they wrote about it:
For the third year in a row, the New Hampshire Supreme Court, in cooperation with the state’s newspapers, is hosting a Constitution Day essay contest, with two categories – grades 5-8 and grades 9-12.
The topic this year is about free speech: “When should a school be allowed to ban T-shirts that have certain kind of messages and pictures on them?”
A full page description of the contest, rules and prizes appeared in last Sunday’s Telegraph and is republished today.
Essays not to exceed 300 words must be postmarked by Oct. 1 and mailed to Constitution Contest, The Telegraph, 17 Executive Drive, Hudson, NH 03051.
Full contest details also are available at www.courts.state.nh.us or www.loebschool.org.
Kids are being asked to write an essay explaining why a school should be allowed to ban a T-shirt and this is how the bureaucrats at the NH Supreme Court felt we can best honor Constitution Day?
The very question itself implies that there is an appropriate time or a message offensive enough that schools should have the power to override the first amendment and prevent a student from wearing it.
For kids thinking about responding to this contest allow me to share a small bit of information with you, this is the first Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Pay close attention to the part in bold. Encouraging the thought that there are forms of speech that should be banned or that schools should have different rules applied to it's following the Constitution then other public locations encourages the weakening of our rights.
The only exception to this would be a private school which by the sole fact they are private gives them the rights to create any rules they wish for the students who choose to go there. But I would argue that even that should be heavily discouraged.
It is this mindset, that we should have places were speech or other rights can be limited that opens the doors to other violations and helps support the mindset that these violations are acceptable. Free speech zones when protesting politicians for instance. Or smoking bans which create limits of what legal activities a private business can have going on within it's doors.
We shouldn't be teaching our children through biased questions to think that such violations are acceptable. Government should not be allowed to take away our rights under any circumstances period.