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Saturday, December 07, 2013

West on student censorship

Nice Slate essay by Sonja West (Georgia) on student speech, arguing that censoring students pervsersely teaches them that censorship is a good and acceptable idea, sort of the opposite of what we want future citizens and leaders to learn. She mentions that SCOTUS is considering the cert petition in the  "I [heart] boobies] case from the Third Circuit, which, given the Court's history with student speech, may not be a good thing. Finally, she highlights the current life of Mary Beth Tinker, who retired from nursing recently to become a student-speech-rights advocate through the Tinker Tour with the Student Press Law Center.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 7, 2013 at 08:36 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


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This isn't at all my area, so I'm probably missing something obvious, but I wasn't sure I followed the evidence for the claim that "[c]hildren who are censored grow up to become adults who censor or who tolerate censorship." Sonja links for support to a report of student surveys by the Knight Foundation, a group committed to journalism and the First Amendment, but I don't see what part of the surveys support the claim that children who are censored become adults who censor or tolerate censorship. The Knight Foundation reports that students who are taught about the importance of the First Amendment tend to voice more support for the First Amendment when asked directly about it (this being one of the core goals of the Knight Foundation, at least as I understand it). But I'm not sure that translates into the idea that being censored leads to support for censorship of others. It's certainly plausible that it's true, but I can imagine the opposite being the case, too (perhaps censorship leads to a backlash against censorship?).

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Dec 8, 2013 11:53:36 AM

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