Semester kick off for the First Amendment

The Western Carolinian hosted the first celebration of the semester for the First Amendment. Guest speaker Attorney Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, presented his thoughts on our right to express ourselves and talked about several laws that are limiting that freedom.

LoMonte explained the provisions of the Hazelwood law, established in 1988, keeps many student journalists quiet because the Supreme Court ruled that non- public student forums are only subject to lower levels of protection in ‘Freedom of Speech,’ meaning that student journalism is not protected on all levels, though they are under greater protection in public forum formats. In regards to students fearing their writing falling subject to this law, LoMonte said that, “We do not know how much speech we’ve lost based on what students have not written.”

He concluded by pleading to the students that we “need to get a handle on online bullying”. Schools are using the issue of online bullying as an excuse to keep students from using multi-media. Websites like Facebook and MySpace are key places where bullying happens, however, these social networking sites are prime for free speech in America.

“If we did not have ‘Freedom of Speech’ we would not have social networking,” WCU junior Joseph Moon said.

LoMonte answered questions from students on his opinion and knowledge on issues such as Rebel flag attire and the justification of uniforms in schools.