One of the concepts I have learned more about in this class is our First Amendment rights as American citizens. I think this is an important subject to be educated in because you need to know your rights to understand whether they are being infringed upon. This topic is becoming more and more important as the number of protests has skyrocketed following a string of controversial events. It is vital that protestors understand their rights to free speech to ensure that conflict is avoided.
In previous classes, we have discussed controversies regarding free speech. A specific example that helped me define free speech and its limitations occurred at Anderson Mill Elementary School. Hudson Jr. reports a fourth-grader was asked to change her essay topic because her topic about LGBTQ equality was deemed inappropriate. The student’s mother attempted to claim that her daughter’s First Amendment rights were violated but her appeal was unsuccessful because the court ruled that the assignment was to be considered school-sponsored speech. This ruling, along with the readings from class, led me to the realization that our rights are limited. Although it may seem like we can say what we want when we want, there are many limitations.
However, I think the biggest thing I learned from the readings and lectures in this class is companies such as Twitter don’t have to honor your rights to free speech. Since they are private forums merely inviting public discussion, companies can censor you. For example, Twitter has permanently banned former President Donald Trump from the platform for violating its guidelines. When it comes to social media sites, those companies hold jurisdiction over people’s accounts.
Although I am not an expert in the subject, I feel like the readings have given me a better understanding of my free speech rights. Given the current state of America, being educated and knowing your rights is very important. The readings over free speech and censorship have given me closure because I have learned enough to ensure my rights are protected.