While browsing through some articles on Fox News earlier today (yes, I do go to Fox News occasionally for my news. Don’t hate.) and stumbled upon an article that instantly made me think of Mill and the discussion we had in lecture on 9/20 regarding possible reasons to restrict free speech.
This 14-year-old boy was issued a one day in-school suspension and two days of out-of-school suspension for speaking out against homosexuals. His remarks against homosexuality were directly tied into his religious beliefs and background. From what can drawn from the article, the young boy clearly stated that “homosexuality is wrong”, although it appears he did not direct these comments towards a homosexual or said anything derogatory. Regardless, should school officials and teachers allow such comments to be made in their classroom? And also, did the young boy receive the correct punishment for his comment?
The best way to approach this situation, I believe, is to look at the situation from both sides of the argument.
From the side of the teacher and the school, the young man received the correct punishment for his actions and students should not have the ability to speak out against homosexuals or any other group of individuals, regardless of their religious or cultural backgrounds. It would also appear that my fellow classmates in PoliSci101 would agree with this as well. On 9/20, when Professor LaVaque-Many polled the class on what reason (out of five choices) would be strongest for restricting speech, the class overwhelming selected hate speech (66% of the vote). The young man spoke out against homosexuality and this has the possibility of silencing, intimidating, and mentally harming any homosexuals that may have overhead his comments. Regardless of his religious background, the young man is using hate speech and should be silenced.
From the side of the student and his parents, no punishment should have been issued to the student as he was only expressing his beliefs. The comments were not derogatory and were not specifically targeted towards an individual. What right do school officials and teachers have restricting what opinions and beliefs students can express? The student’s religious background is directly rooted as the reason for his beliefs, and the school should not have the right to silence what his religion has taught him. Is there truly a difference between one student stating that homosexuality is wrong and another student stating that homosexuality is right? Both students are simply stating their opinions on a sensitive issue. From the viewpoint of the student and parents, no wrongdoing has occurred at the school has infringed upon the student’s freedom of speech.
Now that an argument has been presented from both sides, let me ask: Regarding this specific article and situation, What Would Mill Do?