Blog Archive: October 2012

Christian Cheerleaders & Religious Speech

“If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31” and “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me! Phil 4:13” are a few examples of the banners cheerleaders displayed at Kountze High School in East Texas. For three weeks, football players ran through the large banners containing quotes from the Bible while entering the field. While the student cheerleaders believed this was just a way to exercise their freedom of speech, an unknown person complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who in turn communicated with the school superintendent. Banners were subsequently prohibited at games. The mother of one of the cheerleaders, along with fourteen other parents, brought suit to challenge the school district’s decision to bar the cheerleaders’ signs. She claims that everyone at the small town high school agrees with the statements on the banners and for that reason they should not be a problem.

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No Comments | Posted by Anna Jordan Cobb (Jordan) on Sun. October 28, 2012 8:17 AM
Categories: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech

Social Media and Teachers’ First Amendment Rights

New York City guidance school counselor Tiffani Webb was fired from her job at Murry Bergtraum High School after racy photos of her in lingerie showed up on the Internet. Although this is only the latest in a recent string of educators losing their jobs for online behavior, Webb’s situation is slightly different; the pictures were taken over seventeen years ago, before she became a government employee. Additionally, as the Huffington Post reports, she disclosed her previous modeling career before she was hired by the Department of Education twelve years ago. She had been investigated three times by the DoE, but due to her excellent reviews and track record had always been cleared to work again. In December 2011, just days before she was to be tenured, Webb was fired for “conduct unbecoming” of a DoE employee. A three person panel cited the fact that “[t]he inappropriate photos were a accessible to impressionable adolescents,” in dismissing Webb. She is now suing the Department of Education for wrongful termination, sex discrimination, and violation of her First Amendment rights.

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No Comments | Posted by Samantha L. Thompson on Mon. October 22, 2012 8:53 AM
Categories: Social Media

The New York Times and Free Speech

The New York Times has recently adopted a new policy authorizing reporters to refuse to cede editorial authority to sources. “Quotation approval” refers to the practice by reporters of granting sources “as a condition of an interview, that quotes be submitted afterward to the source or a press aide to review, approve or edit.” Absent this agreement, subjects decline to be interviewed, meaning that as a matter of good business practice, reporters must acquiesce in order to gain the access they need to do their jobs. In July of this year, Jeremy Peters, political reporter for the New York Times, published an article describing the impact of after-the-fact quotation approval on campaign reporting. In response, the Times’ Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, called for the Times to adopt a new policy to combat this industry-wide practice.

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No Comments | Posted by Charlotte R. Stewart on Mon. October 8, 2012 1:33 PM
Categories: Freedom of Speech

Celebrating 30 Years of ‘Banned Books Week’

September 30, 2012-October 6, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, and will be celebrated as a part of UNC’s Fourth Annual First Amendment Day on October 2, 2012. Banned Books Week began as a reaction to the rapid increase in books that were challenged in educational facilities, bookstores, and libraries. The American Library Association (ALA) seeks to “promote[] the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular….” The Office for Intellectual Freedom, a subset of the ALA, tracks and records challenges to books, and subsequently seeks to honor the First Amendment protected Freedom of Speech through Banned Books Week each year.

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No Comments | Posted by Demitra M. Sourlis on Mon. October 1, 2012 9:46 AM
Categories: Banned Books Week, First Amendment Day

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