The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission on Oct. 8. According to Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, this case will mark the social networking and microblogging website Tumblr’s first foray into the legal realm.
The content of “‘Corruption,’ originally.” was attached as an appendix to the amicus brief Lessig authored on behalf of the FEC, dealing with constitutional definitions of corruption and free speech rights.
The guarantee of free speech is probably one of the only amendments you actually know, unless you’re a political science major or happen to have a really good memory of your eighth grade social studies flash cards.
Freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion: These are freedoms that have been a staple of the American ethos since its foundation.
But free speech has started to change, and we’re all still struggling to adapt.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the pages you “like” on Facebook are considered to be protected speech under the Constitution. Six employees of a Virginia sheriff’s office were fired in 2009 for “liking” the page of their boss’s opposing candidate for sheriff.
For the employees who lost their jobs, the ruling is great news. But it also indicates a growing gray area for free speech — with social media having become a staple of our culture, more and more content than ever is being posted online for the public to see. And those who use social media walk a fine line between expressing free speech and going overboard.
I’m a freshman, and I remember around this time last year we had a speaker come into my high school English class and give a lecture on how social media can affect whether we get into college or get a job.
The lecturer said that employers and admissions look at your Facebook or Twitter and judge your character based off of that. Worried that tweeting “damn” instead of “darn” would make the difference between getting into ASU or not, I cleaned up my social media. I began presenting myself as a professional when I was only 17 years old. It’s just become something we have to do.
Acting professional in all settings, in person and virtual, is fine but we need to draw a line of sorts. At what point does expressing myself online no longer find itself protected under the First Amendment?
A couple weeks ago, when the first Indian American was crowned Miss America, Twitter lit up with hateful speech. Racists came out of their 1890s caves and expressed their horrible sentiments in 140 characters — is this free speech? Are people allowed to basically hide behind a screen when they show their intolerance?
The line between free speech and hate speech is one that is incredibly blurred, but in reality nothing is going to change. It’s up to us to be rational and to keep the irrational in check. If we see a hateful tweet or post, call the sucker out on it.
Tell them how bigoted, rude or hateful they are. Let them know that while free speech is encouraged, it shouldn’t be abused.
In person, only so much speech is permitted, but on the Internet it’s tough to hold such people accountable. We have to take a stance to promote free speech and discourage hate speech.
Social media is a great medium to connect with the world, but it gives weak people an outlet to show how weak they are. It’s our job to protect the free speech our Founding Fathers had in mind when they added the guarantee to the Constitution.
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