Marking the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, the First Amendment Center has issued their annual “Muzzle Awards”, a dubious honor given to “outstanding” Americans in violation of First Amendment principals. The story published on FAC’s website notes that more than half of this year’s recipients are community college or K-12 administrators.
While this bit of news is no surprise to those who follow student censorship cases, it is none-the-less disappointing. All the more so considering that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark student speech case, Tinker v. Des Moines, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of students who had been suspended for protesting the Vietnam War. The court’s ruling stated that students “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” But while Tinker continues to resonate with student advocates and First Amendment scholars, the Muzzle Award’s list of recipients indicates that not all school administrators have taken the idea of student free speech to heart.
The courts are not always supportive either, as noted earlier this year by Student Press Law Center executive director, Frank LoMonte, “The 40-year history of judicial decisions since Tinker is largely a story of retrenchment. Court after court has found ways to chip away at the First Amendment protection afforded to student speech….”
NCAC’s 2009 Youth Free Expression Network Film Contest:
Free Speech in School- Does it Exist?