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The Contender
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School laws ought not to limit civil rights

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/22/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 979 times Debate No: 31543
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




Being in high school, I found out that my first amendment of "freedom of speech" was liimited once I set foot on to school grounds, I am currently protesting this. Although, schools across america do have a right to set rules and laws to protect the students, this is one right that we should value and should not be demolished becasue of a school's decisions. Today, I argue the affrimitive in the topic of School laws ought not to limit civil rights. Equality will be valued in my arguement.

Contention one:
Schools are funded by our government, therfore should stay true to the government.

Our government has made America a utiliatarian country by providing us our rights. Our right to speak our opinion rightfully and proudly. Schools, are not maintain our untiliatrain society by depriving us of this right with limits. If I believe that being atheist is a religion of the devil, i should proud to stay my postition on that just as much as the atheist have a right to plead evoultion over creation. Being entilited to your opinion defines who you are and gives each person individuality. Being an american citizen you are entitled to have a voice, as stated in many of our rights. One of the limits all schools enforce, is no racial comments. Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery and racism in the civil war, but sayiing that you feel whites are superior, should not be punished unless you carry out an act of proveing that, like denying a black man a job do to his color. Say what you will and one will not be punished, but enforce the action to prove it, you will be punished. The first amendment says "the freedom to practice your religion". If I practice my religion it were to say that our belief is superior to other religions that I should have to the right to exercise my religion by saying, not performing, that we are superior.

Contention two:
America is utilitarian due to our rights.

Other countries do not have the rights that we have and those are usually the countries with the must human rights abuses. We should be thankful that we are not a country that has encontered human rights abuses by our government. Why have we not encontered these human rights abuses? Because we have rights that let the citizens have a voice in society, personal life, as well as the governmenet, but still keeping our government powerful. If we havent encontered abuse by our government becasue of therse rights, why should we not exercise those rights. We dont want human rights abuse, so schools depriving us of these rights with limits is technically abusing our rights as well as weaken the government; the schools laws being valued about the governement rights, is practically saying that the school has more power than our government and that is not only wrong, but immoral considering that the government funds our schools.

I urge you to support the affrimative in this case to help my protest to keep the rights that we deserve in action for me and colleagues.


Although I was once like you, desiring only to stand on my soapbox (or lunch table) and with zeal let my thoughts, opinion and beliefs spread like wild fire across the campus. For the most part, I was granted this right in modicum and although this felt insufficient of my First Amendment rights granted by our great civil contract between government and citizen, the US Constitution.

However, in my arguments I will position myself in as the "Con" and will argue against both of your main contentions. Summarized below:

To you first contention, that "Schools are not maintaining our utilitarian society by depriving us of this right with limits," Is a misunderstanding of limitation of your rights as presented and debated in our history and our court systems. The school instilling limits is within the governments purview, and certainly in within the schools. Your first amendment right only extends to the point where it runs up against the following barriers; does the speech insight violence, cause clear and present danger, displays of obscenity, conflict with other legitimate social or governmental interest as well as Time, place and manner restrictions (TPM). As long as the school is limiting the speech within these guidelines, and most do so for student protection as you mention, then their limitations are exactly to the letter of the rights to free speech.

As for your second contention, if the schools restrictions are in congruence with the freedom of speech limitation, its rules is not superseding nor stipulating a superior power over the federal governments. As you mentioned the public school systems are funded by the government and as such cannot and does not rise above it but must meet its laws.
Debate Round No. 1


First, I would like to ask two questions to my opponent:
(a) What positive outcomes would occur if schools were to strongly enforce these limitations?
Surely you as well as everyone else, know the tendency teenagers have to rebel. If they want something that they will be deprived of, such as this debate goes it would be the freedom of speech, they will find a loop hole or even more likely they will just do it anyways. I have seen many incidents of opinion stated arguments in my high school that has resulted in suspensions and referral, but we all know those people that just do it becasue they morally feel it is right to be able to state their opinion no matter how many times they get suspended. So by enforcing these limitations on students we could be merely worsening the situation by having rebellious students continue their strong voices.
(b) What negative outcomes would occur if we eliminate these limitations?
Once someone is happy with an outcome they will not usually attack it again. Once the daughter has begged and bothered her father enough for the new Iphone, she doesn't bother him for it anymore because she has it. Providing the best for the greatest number of people is classified as utilitarian and if the greatest number of people want the limitations eliminated then doing so would maintain a utilitarian society, as i already stated in round 1.
My opponent attacked me with saying that our first amendment only extends to the point that we would encounter these so called "barriers". So I will attack these "barriers". (1)"Insight of violence", an opinion is defined as a personal view on a situation of person, and opinions are expressed verbally. Violence occurs physically, and this topic discuss freedom of speech which does not involve physically actions. So, by saying i am atheist and that anyone who believes in god is stupid, I am verbally stating my opinion that follows my first amendment, when it becomes a punishable problem not following the first amendment, is when I say that i am atheist and go around town punching and beating up anyone who believes in God. But, that is not following the topic, so I have proved this barrier to be false. (2)"causes damage", again verbal opinions can not be classified as causing damage. Damage is referred to as physical, so it would be moral to say my opinion is that I hate people who believe in God, but it would be immorally wrong for me to shoot those who believe God, and again I not will go into depth of this because we are discuss freedom of SPEECH. (3) "conflict with other groups", since the start of man kind certain groups have disapproved of other groups, it is merely nature. If it is verbal, the conflict would be moral because we have the right to state an opinion. No where in any historical documents does it say "you shall not say anything that could upset someone else". I can freely say that I am atheist and if the person next to me is Christian and is offended, he has a right to say something back if he feels he wants to. So the first amendment is not saying you have a freedom of speech and the other can't do anything about it. Being an American citizen you can have a freedom of speech, and schools should not deny that because when you are on the schools property which is still America and these rights ought to still apply to you. To sum this up, I will refer to a statement I made in the first round "Say what you will and one will not be punished, but enforce the act to prove it, you will be punished". It is moral to speak your mind because even if you do offend someone its not like they don't have a right to say anything back, because they can, because ALL American citizens are entitled to the freedom of speech.

My high school is very opinionated, and many people in my school believe that woman are of a lower status in the social structure and that men have the right to control them. Being a freshman female, I have had many encounters with this. I will and I have expressed my opinion that woman are equal in this world and men have no right to disrespect us. And I have had principles confront be about this. But, they shouldn't confront me about it because when i go to school everyday from 6-2, i should feel like an equal member of society that I am under my civil rights out in public. And coming to school and not being treated equally is like stepping off American soil. My first amendment right should not be limited on school grounds because I am an equal member of the society and I should have the right to say that if I am being treated any differently. This is just one example of what I have encountered, and I strongly believe that on school ground or town property, if you are on American soil all your rights apply the same way. I should not be punished for saying what I think as long as I am not physically enforcing them as I stated earlier.

By lifting these limitations the positive will be that we maintain utilitarianism and provide the students of schools their right of individuality, freedom, and the right to use their voice.

By keeping these limitations the negative will be we continue to have unfair treatment of our freedom of speech and freedom to express an opinion and we will also continue to have rebellious students that morally believe what they are doing is right and at one point may turn out to be more than the school can handle.

It is morally correct to eliminate the limitations that our schools have placed on our first amendment right.


Thanks for the enticing arguments presented my my opponent.

(A) To this point, I feel that it is an argument not well thought out and certainly not limited only to school. In society we have a moral obligation to those around us to keep the peace. It is this moral imperative that out standard laws are attempting to provide. For example, you cannot protest on someone's private property or you can not parade down a busy street without a permit. Within the school confines, the purpose is to educate. the government therefore is entitled to prohibit any action that would make for preventing education efficient as possible. Disruption, such as a student standing up on the desk and protesting the governments use of drones in Spanish class is a distraction. While you have a right to say what you want about drones, your rights are limited to the time place and manner limitation. School, without permissions from the school to demonstrate, is the wrong place. Civil disobedience - peaceful, but unlawful, activities as a form of protest - can legally be (and often is) prosecuted regardless. You in school are bound by the same laws as I an average adult. Your limits are my limits.

(B) Your first example, is erroneous data for this debate. Simply being annoying enough to get what you want without reason is not reason to receive something that will make you happy. If I keep going to the car dealership and begging for a free maserati I am more likely to be thrown in jail than to get the car an to continue to be thrown in jail for repeated acts.

Your first attack on the limit to free speech that may insight violence is defeated by the supreme court I quote Justice Holmes, speaking for the unanimous Supreme Court. "The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. What this is saying is that if your speech invokes a clear and present danger then the congress has a right to enforce a limit to that extent. You do have a right to go up to people all around town, telling them you are an theist, you do not have a right to disrupt the school day by going through Math class trying to show everyone that god is a figment of their imagination. You also do not have a right to go around calling people stupid for their beliefs, I cite Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the Supreme Court established that the "..English language has a number of words and expressions which by general consent [are] fighting words, when said without a disarming smile. Such words, as ordinary men know, are likely to cause a fight. The court determined that the government can "prohibit the face-to-face words plainly likely to cause a breach of the peace by the addressee, words whose speaking constitute a breach of the peace by the speaker " including classical fighting words, words in current use less classical but equally likely to cause violence, and other disorderly words, including profanity, obscenity and threats.

I believe that I have shown that the right to freedom of speech is limited, and these limitation are constitutional and ought to be enforced in the school. However, I would like to say a few things regarding your experience in school.

While you do have a right to speech, with-in the limitations I have outlined (and a few that I have not yet gone into but do have court documents and other citations for), if these rights are being un-constitutionally restricted you should take action. Of course women of all ages have equality, and if this equality is not given to you, you have a right to point this out!!

If you have a case, and are willing to go though some difficulties I would contact your local ACLU. they would obviously be more fit to assist you than I would, but I wish I could help to defend your rights with you. I am certainly upset that you feel so isolated in school, that you feel like you are leaving the the country and not benefiting the equality that you should experience. If you are luckier than I, you have family you can cont on and I would certainly ask if they Can help ensure your freedoms are being protected, again the ACLU is a great place to start.

I know it is of no consolation, but you are not alone. If and when you fight, this is what you may be in for:
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent has failed to ask my two questions I have asked in Round Two.

Moving on to attacking his points.

First he says that our society has a moral obligation to keep the peace. Many other societies have no peace because they don’t have the rights we have. I would like to remind you that I am valuing equality in this debate. Back during slavery times, blacks were not treated equal and that resulted in a war which is definitely not peace. The first amendment, limitless, provides us with equality. Blacks, whites, Jews, Atheists, anyone should have their rights carried out and undisturbed whether they are on school grounds or American soil. Equality keeps peace, so by providing all citizens with the right to a limitless freedom of speech we are technically upholding our moral obligation to keep peace.

Second, my opponent mentions that schools have a duty to educate. Yes, they do. But, just because their duty is to educate, does not give them the right to limit our rights that are unlimited in society. The limit of our rights is where the right ends in writing, not where we determine it in the right. In other words, if we have the right to speak our opinion but not to protest on public property and that is written in documents, then we still have the right to state our opinion , and that cannot be limited(unless of course in writing). My opponent has found a written quote from Justice Holmes, that sums up to say that if what you say or said is obviously posing danger, we have to punish it. Did I ever say that the only way to express your opinion is through violence or threats? An opinion is expressed many ways. And I agree with the fact that threats should be taken seriously for the only reason that threats do not apply to problem on hand, we are dealing with opinions and threats do not fall under the umbrella of opinions. I should, on or off school property, have the right to say “Obama is a bad president” and not be punished because it is merely an opinion and I am not posing a threat to anyone or Obama. But punishment should occur, I agree, when I say “I will shoot Obama”. That is a threat verse an opinion.

Third, my opponent used the example of begging at the car dealership for a very expensive car. And that he would most likely be thrown in jail over receiving what he wanted. I would like to tell my opponent that there is a dramatic difference between begging for a material object and begging, and rather fighting, for a right. We all know that women were the underdog of society. We couldn’t vote, own property, etc. But if you look at all the Female role models that took a beating for us women to have the rights we have today, they begged and they struggled and they got what they wanted, although it took awhile. And my opponent uses the word “annoying”, which inaccurate, because begging for your rights is not annoying it’s a moral obligation to keep yourself and society happy. Although the government thought that these women fighting for their rights by protest and using their voice was quite annoying, they did not give them their rights imply because they felt that they were getting to annoying, they gave it to them because they fought with valid reasons and fair expectations that did not put a negative impact on society. So my opponent should know that there is a major difference between “begging” for an object verse fighting for a right.

Fourth, my opponent said “your limits are my limits”. So if your limit out in public is that, by the first amendment, you have the right to state your opinion on something but you are not allowed to protest that point on private property, then that must mean that I am allowed to state my opinion on anything on school grounds and they can’t do anything about it as long as I am not protesting it on private property. And to clarify ahead of time, you can state your opinion without protest or violence.

I am merely supporting the full limitless right to freedom of speech for myself and my fellow students. I am not supporting full limitless right to violence and threat for myself and my fellow students.

Stating an opinion, school or not, should be a non-punishable act. Violently threatening someone or a group of people to say your opinion, should be punishable and I believe this because it cannot be used against be in this debate because we are discussing the right of expressing an opinion not threat.

I feel that these point prove the affirmative to win this case.



I believe I have answered your questions presented in R2.

A)What positive outcomes would occur if schools were to strongly enforce these limitations?
Schools (as in regular society) have rules (laws in the case of society) that prevent disruption of the peace. That is the positive outcome, social peace. If we did not have these rules there would be anarchy, a million voices dying to be heard but never done so, for the million other voices. "If they want something that they will be deprived of, such as this debate goes it would be the freedom of speech, they will find a loop hole or even more likely they will just do it anyways" the same could be said about the many who want to commit murder, they find a loop hole (Stand your ground laws) or just do it anyway. Rules are meant to keep the peace as much as they can.

B)What negative outcomes would occur if we eliminate these limitations? As mentioned previously: Anarchy!
I feel as if you are focusing on the fact that your school limits freedom of speech and are neglecting the fact that all speech is limited. I present a couple court cases to show this point where the Supreme Court has set these limits. You have the following quote:

"The first amendment, limitless, provides us with equality"
This is factually incorrect, free speech IS limited. The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment is not absolute; it has never and will never be legally defined to be all inclusive. Your school has a right to enforce the legal limit of speech. From your quote:

"I have seen many incidents of opinion stated arguments in my high school that has resulted in suspensions and referral,"

It seems as if you school is taking action within its appropriate capacity. The state, in your case the school, and federal governments may place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of individual expression. For example no one may "insist upon a street meeting in the middle of Times Square at the rush hour as a form of freedom of speech" (Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 85 S. Ct. 453, 13 L. Ed. 2d 471 [1965]).

The Supreme Court has recognized three forums of public expression: traditional public forums, limited public forums, and nonpublic forums. You school, is an example of a "Limited Public Forum," government designated places for civic discussion. Capitol grounds, courthouses, state fairs, and public universities (I would think this extends to your school) are all qualified as limited public forums for First Amendment purposes. Although the government may designate such places as sites for public speech under certain circumstances, the Supreme Court has recognized that individual expression is not the sole objective served by limited public forums.

You school is entirely in its right, both morally and legally (according to the constitution and the supreme courts" rulings) to limit your freedom of speech just as the state limits mine.
You understanding seem to be, according to your quote:
"Just because their duty is to educate, does not give them the right to limit our rights that are unlimited in society." Suggesting that you:
1) Believe that the right is limitless; I have show the contrary
2) Think that the school is going above its reasonable rights to limit your speech, I have shown since your school would possibly qualify as a limited forum they are within their rights to limit speech accordingly. You do have a legal recourse if this limit is being taken to an extreme and is thus infringing on your rights. ACLU would be a good authority to contact if this is the case.

You are correct here "we still have the right to state our opinion, and that cannot be limited (unless of course in writing)." Which is the center of my explanation, it IS in writing that your right to free speech IS limited. Supreme Court cases on this subject have been cited previously (and towards the bottom) by me in support of my argument.

The quote from Justice Holmes was to show that there is a limit to speech that may incite violence The quote does not express that you will be violent only that your right to free speech is limited to whether or not it may incite a reasonable person to become violent. Will an act of speech create a dangerous situation? The First Amendment does not protect statements that incite immediate violence or incite illegal action by yourself or others. You CANNOT say something that you know WILL provoke others physically. The rules in your school, given that student are young and are not sure of the particulars of the law, if the purpose of the regulation is to prevent these types of acts of violence by punishing you for saying something that will cause physical violence in the school, and then they are within their rights. You may however, request permission to hold some time during your lunch or free time in the court yard to publicly address your concerns, this would be much like getting a permit to protest in times square. If they refuse based on what you plan to say simply because they disagree, you may have a court case that you can win, however I am not a lawyer so the ACLU would be my first contact.

Your quote "I am merely supporting the full limitless right to freedom of speech for myself and my fellow students." Is predicated on the idea that freedom of speech being limitless, which I feel by now I have proved it not to be in any case, school or not.

In my arguments I have relied on the following supreme court cases:

Schenck v. United States

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan

Miller v. California

Roth v. United States

FCC v. Pacifica Foundation

I also relied heavily on:
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: Con used more sources, and pro never fully met the BOP.