Punishing Free Expression

Posted: March 26, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

In the US government, in the streets of America, in the schools, and at workplaces discussion and debate about the 2nd amendment is commonplace these days.  As the frequency of mass shootings increases, so does the determination of guns-rights advocates. Nobody wants – they say – innocent people killed, but nobody is willing to even consider the ban of high capacity magazines to the general public.  Or the limit of gun sales.  To do so would be to trample on the our Second Amendment rights. And rights, after all, outweigh morality and ethics every time.

The amendment under scrutiny here reads as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Although proponents would say it is clear and straightforward it is, in fact, open to multiple interpretations, depending on who is reading it and on what side of the gun issue they stand.  What everyone seems to agree on, though, is that some assert their Second Amendment rights in ways that are harmful to at least some of the general populace.

After the Parkland school shooting, students rose up and demanded that elected officials and voters reevaluate their position and choices with regard to gun laws and those who implement them. They have been giving speeches, sitting for television and newspaper interviews, and rallying supporters to make fast and lasting changes. At an organized march on the 24th of this month, which was duplicated in cities all around the globe, they spoke eloquently with strength and anger and demanded again an immediate change to the laws which have taken the lives of so many of their friends.

In school walkouts across the country, students showed support for the Parkland survivors and a conviction that change is imperative.  Most of the reports, like this one at Falmouth High School on Cape Cod, show that school administrators were supportive of the walkouts:

http://newbostonpost.com/2018/03/10/falmouth-school-administrators-supporting-walkout/

The widespread belief among schools supporting their students is that they are exercising a right we all share, 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.

Others, though, threatened punishment for students participating in the walkout, citing non-adherence to school policy.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/378880-arkansas-students-punished-with-paddling-for-walking-out

We need to ask ourselves when adherence to a set of policies should take precedence over the very basic right of free expression.  But moreover, we must start questioning why so many of us believe that meeting violence with violence is a policy that we, as a country and as individuals, embrace and, in many cases, celebrate.

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