Thursday November 26, 2015
We have been discussing the rapid erosion of free speech on our campuses. That trend started a long time ago in our high schools where officials have steadily attacked the exercise of free speech by teenagers. Few however have reached the level of censorship and content-based punishment as Revere High School in Massachusetts.Cheerleader Caley Godino has been banned from her team because she tweeted political comments that her teachers did not like about illegal immigration.
The day after the municipal elections Godino was on a field trip outside of the school when her Civics teacher sent out a tweet about low voter turnout in the elections that noted that only ten percent of the population voted. Godson dashed off a response saying “10 percent of Revere voted because the others are not legal.”
The school Administration promptly put her on probation. Superintendent Dianne Kelly insisted that she is supportive of free speech but only up to a point: “If you’re going to stand up and say something that other people will find offensive or hateful, then you need to be prepared to deal with the ramifications of that.” Well, yes, but the “ramifications” are usually more speech — part of a healthy dialogue in a free society. Godino received an overwhelming response from critics. However, Kelly and her staff wanted to silence her voice and punish her exercise of free speech. This seems quite afield from the standard under Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. Sch. Distr. (1969) of punishing those acts that “materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.”