Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Congress Shall Make No Law..."

in 1988, the Supreme Court ruled that public high schools can censor and restrict what is printed in school papers. On Monday, the 7th Court of Appeals ruled that Publicly funded Colleges can do the same, effectively restricting the freedom of the college press.

I'm a bit torn on this issue. I like the idea that colleges are venues for younger Americans to learn and discover themselves, and I like that they want to challenge authority. Change doesn't come by balancing the line, it comes by crossing it. If a student wants to publish something inflammatory, I can understand.

The reason I lean more towards supporting the decision comes from a practical standpoint. These schools are learning centers, where young Americans need to learn the skills to succeed in the adult world. With the daily weakening of the value of a high school diploma, a serious college education is more and more important. Schools want to attract strong candidates, and, because they are publicly funded, they have to be answerable to the citizens of their state. In that respect, I find it important that a school be able to have veto power over what a student posts in a school supported forum.

The schools aren't saying that the student can't publish their ideas; the schools are saying that the student can't publish what is deemed inappropriate by the school in the school's paper. The student can still find other ways to publish their wares. Look at Life's Little Instruction Book - it's author, H. Jackson Brown, couldn't find a publisher originally, so he published it himself. It wasn't until some time later that he picked up a publisher. That option is available to a college student, as well. Because I don't think this is an abridgment of Free Speech, I wouldn't consider this a First Amendment Issue, and thus tend to support the Court's decision.

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