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tv   Students First Amendment Rights  CSPAN  March 17, 2018 11:27pm-12:31am EDT

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independent school district, which give students in public schools free speech protections under the constitutions. the rolling also established the so-called "tinker test" which courts use to show whether action in the school it is a violation of the first amendment. this is one hour. >> hello everyone. welcome. we're so excited to see you. i got to speak with some of you before hand. newseum education. so happy you could be heard today for a question-and-answer with mary beth tinker. alsodition to mary beth, i have the executive director of the museum institutes first amendment center. i want to say thank you to the
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today. we have here north broward preparatory school, st. john's university, and middle school in and high school. for all of the teachers and students joining us through live stream across the country, we are excited to have you here today in we want to give a special shout out to be for local high school in ohio who gave up their lunch break to be able to watch this live stream. a special thank you to you. we will jump right into the program. we will give a short introduction to the first amendment and then turn it over to talk about what are some of the limits and we will look into a very famous court case with a firsthand perspective about what it means to students. then we will wrap it up and turn it over to ask questions about how the first amendment works for you and things you might
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want to know about. how many of you feel like you can name all five freedoms in the first amendment. raise your hand. all right. we have some confidence. do not worry, i will not give you a pop quiz. i promise. let's look at it. the first amendment of the u.s. constitution gives everyone in america these five freedoms with which they can express themselves. you see them highlighted in pink to stand up. it gives us the freedom of religion, speech, press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition. so we have this right to believe what we want, express ourselves. gather as people. and, ask our government for changes. you have to think about the first amendment as applied to the government. that very first line, congress shall make no law.
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it means congress come the state, government organization will not limit these -- government organizations won't limit these freedoms in public spaces. but i have to ask a question, are there limits to the first amendment? can i turn this over to you? lata: with the first amendment, there are a few they carve out with free speech. first of all, if you use your speech to threaten someone's life, and truly threaten someone's life, not the usual i'm just going to kill my little , brother for that, but if you actually mean it, that isn't protected by the first amendment. if you use your speech to incite immediate violence, that's not protected. those things are both still crimes. you also are not protected if you use your speech to say something false about someone that damages their reputation or if you take someone else's writing or words and pass them off as your own.
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you're not going to go to jail for those things, but those are things you can be sued for. so those are all things that while free speech is protected and the government is usually not allowed to censor you or punish you for your speech, we've carved out a few things, no, i'm sorry, the protection doesn't apply. allowing people to threaten other people's lives is harmful so there are a few things that , are not protected. jessi: excellent. when we think about this, and we have to think about it, what does it mean for schools? what i want to do is turn this over to someone who, when they were a student used the first , amendment to advocate for changes they wanted to see and it culminates in the supreme court case you see here on the screen. so i am going to figuratively and literally turn this over to you, mary beth tinker. mary: thank you, so good to be here at the newseum with all of you. and all of you listening online as well. what a time it is for the first amendment. for free speech. and for students. it's mighty times, as a student told me recently. do you agree?
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do you think so? let's hear it. [applause] mary: mighty times. just like the times i grew up. mighty times are here again. so much going on. so many people speaking and up standing up and using the first amendment to do that. is the first amendment for kids? yes. yes it is for kids. it, bute limitations to there are limitations for adults as well. so i was growing up in iowa and i didn't know about the first amendment. i didn't know about the first amendment rights that i had. i just liked to go to slumber parties and celebrate birthdays. that's me on the right and my little sister hope. we were living pretty ordinary times in those mighty times. all going on at the same time. and one day we saw the most amazing children on tv. this is not them.
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can i go back here by any chance? [laughter] is there birmingham in here? further ahead. i am going to show you some kids -- yes, these -- i don't see them. i am going to go back. there were kids in birmingham, alabama, in the birmingham children's crusade and that year, 1963, i saw them on the news, on tv with my sister iowa. -- on tv in iowa with my sister. we were watching the news. it's really a story of journalism so i'm glad we're at the newseum. those children were so amazing. they were standing up against segregation, standing up to the ku klux klan. martin luther king was in jail. called bombingham because the terrorists, the ku klux klan, bombed so many black churches there.
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the kids said we will stand up, we will speak up and they came marching out of their 16th street baptist church. that was their headquarters. singing song -- singing songs like (music) this little light of mine i'm going to let it shine ♪ . they were singing and marching as kids have throughout history. there were terrorists, yes, as i said -- let me see if i can find that one. there they were. yesthere they were. the ku klux klan was ready for , the kids. and to punish the children on sunday morning that year, 1963, september 15th, they put a bomb in their church knowing that the kids would be in sunday school. almost 2,000 kids had participated in the children's crusade that year in birmingham and martin luther king called it the turning point of the civil rights movement. that's the power of young people. maybe that's why the ku klux klan didn't like the little children and maybe that's why they planted a bomb in their church on sunday morning, september 15th.
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and sure enough four little girls were killed. their charred bodies were found in the stairwell of the church, cynthia, addie may, carol and denise. they were about the same ages as my sister and me growing up in iowa. i saw this on the news. someone came by a picnic we were at after church. my dad was a methodist preacher. we also got involved with the quakers. it was sunday. we were at a picnic when someone came by to tell us how the ku klux klan had punished the little kids who dared to stand up for democracy, who dared to stand up for love and for equality and all of those democratic ideals.
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i thought those kids were so amazing. cynthia, addie may, carol and denise. now there are memorials built to these children in birmingham. there is an entire park dedicated to them. the statues of the brave birmingham kids. i think of them kind of like the black lives matter children of 1963. and these kids weren't popular with some people, just like black lives matter is not popular with some people. but that didn't stop them. they kept speaking up for what they believed in. for racial justice and equality and those democratic ideals that they believed in, just like black lives matter keeps standing up right now. when the four little girls were killed, a man named james baldwin, the writer, and another man they wrote a letter, why , don't we have memorial services all over the country for these girls? that's exactly what happened. here is the memorial service we had in des moines. bill eckhart is here. he's the father of chris eckhart, who would later be involved in our case, tinker versus des moines. i had just turned 11 years old when this was all happening. i thought those kids were so
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brave, but i knew i was nothing like them because i was very shy. i didn't even like dogs. i was scared of dogs. when the dogs attacked the kids, i knew i wasn't going to be up there, but i thought those kids were so brave. people wore black armbands there in des moines and around the country just like this. it's a symbol of mourning, of being sad about something. the next year, well, the whole time was an amazing time for young people speaking up and standing up. 1964, the mississippi freedom summer, when young people went from all over the united states to mississippi to help register black voters. why weren't they registering? because of the reign of terror that the ku klux klan and the white citizen's council was carrying out there. so young people went from all over the country in 1964, 1965, selma, the march. we also had the build-up of the vietnam war. in 1965, that christmas, this is what we would see on the news
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day after day and the famous broadcaster walter cronkite would say the body count today in vietnam is eight. next day, body count today in vietnam is ten. day after day. us kids were already pretty sad about what had been going on in birmingham and mississippi, and now we were watching the vietnam war. day after day. we didn't know what to do about it, but some kids at the high school had an idea, what if we just wear black arm bands to school and this will be our symbol that we're sad about the war and that we're supporting a christmas truce that was being supported by robert kennedy, senator robert kennedy had called for christmas truce. us kids thought that would be a good idea. we decided to wear black armbands to school. i was in eighth grade. it was 1965. i was 13 years old. the older kids said, come on, beth, you can do it, too. that's what they called me.
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i said, i don't know, i kind of am shy. i'd rather go roller skating and i don't want to get in trouble, especially when the principals heard about the plan and made a rule against armbands. they said anyone wearing an armband in the des moines schools will be suspended. kids don't need to be thinking about war, they should be thinking about math and science and social studies. we said, how can we not think about it? it's going on. the boys were being called off to war. my older brother was getting to the age where he could be going off to war. so we decided we would wear the black arm bands to school. i was very nervous and scared and we tried to convince the principals and the school board to change their mind. that's me with my mother and dad in back, and two other students, chris singer, also was suspended. five of us were suspended for wearing arm bands to school. they wouldn't change their mind, though.
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and so after i had been -- well, when i got to school, i was so nervous and scared and had on my black armband and i was sent down to the office. they told me, now, you know, take off that armband, mary beth, because it's against the rules. in a great stand of courage, i had on my armband and i was so nervous and scared. i was at the office and i looked around the office. so i said, okay, and i took off the armband. and i took it off. that's when i found out you only need a little bit of courage to make a difference. you don't have to be the most courageous person in the history of the world. it certainly wasn't me. after we got suspended -- five of us got suspended for wearing black arm bands to school. and so now, you know, people started sending hate mail and some people threatened to bomb our house on christmas eve. i didn't understand it because we were speaking up for peace at christmas time. it didn't make any sense to me.
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of course some people said, oh, these kids, they don't know anything about vietnam, they don't know what they're talking about, just like people are saying now about the students in florida and all over the country. well, that's not true. young people do know a lot. of what you talk about. and we knew something about how we felt about vietnam as well. besides, most adults didn't know very much about vietnam. they didn't know where it was. they didn't know the history of vietnam. and so there is a group named the american civil liberties union, the aclu, and they've been standing up for the bill of rights for almost 100 years. and they said that's not fair that these kids are being denied their first amendment rights. they should have a right to express themselves in the public schools. they weren't doing anything to hurt anyone. they weren't threatening violence. and so the aclu came and offered to help us and they tried to go with us to change the mind of the school board and the
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principals, but they wouldn't change their mind. they said, well, we're going to have to go over to the other branch of government. there are three branches, right? the legislative, which is your public schools, that's run by the legislative branch. the legislative, the judicial and the executive. and so all of those branches are supposed to follow the constitution. the constitution, very small but powerful. and the aclu said that we don't think your schools are following the constitution by saying that you can't wear those black arm bands to school. so they said we're going to have to go over to the judicial branch and have them check it, which is what happened. so it went to court. here is chris eckhart. he was also suspended. there are his parents. that is him at the school board meeting. he was the third plaintiff. the three that went to court were me, my brother john and chris eckhart.
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here is my brother john and i at the appeals court level. what do you think happened? do you think that we -- we had lost at the district level, at the lower level. there are three levels, the district, the appeals level and the supreme court. we had lost at the district level and i thought, of course we're going to lose. no big important judge is going to say kids have rights. so we had already lost. so it was at the appeals level now. i think i was in tenth grade by now. you think happened? who thinks we lost at the appeals level? yeah? at the appealson level? yeah, about half and half. should i let them know? let's see here. did we win our case at the district level? no. at the appeals level? no. we lost. okay. so can i go back to that slide of the -- let's see, how do i
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-- remember the one of me and my brother with peace armbands? that's us. i don't know why we're smiling since we had just lost. that's us at the appeals level. well, maybe it's because of those nice little peace signs we decided to paint on our arm bands. originally they were just black. so we lost at the appeals level and then it went on -- it was appealed to the supreme court. at the supreme court, yay, we won! it was not just a victory for us, though. it was a victory for all of you and for students all over the united states because the supreme court said in the ruling that neither students or teachers leave their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate and that
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sometimes students have something to teach their teachers. do you think so, students? yes. i knew you would. one of my favorite parts of the ruling is that students are persons under the constitution. this is kind of nice, being a person, and with the rights and responsibilities of persons, the court said there are two things that students cannot do under the first amendment. number one, substantially disrupt school or impinge on the rights of others. there would be limits. and that was the two things that the students do not lose their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door, but it must be a safe learning environment and there cannot be substantial disruption and students may not impinge on the rights of others. what were you going to say? what does this mean to students today? what do the roles they came out of tinker v. des moines today?
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it was so important. your case changed everything. before that, nobody thought students had first amendment rights in school, that they had the right to speak freely. so now, and this is something that a lot of people forget, a lot of school administrators sometimes forget that yes, if you go to a public school, public school students do have the right to express their point of view, to express their political opinions. so you can't substantially disrupted the school. so if you're doing something that basically interrupts everybody else's education, then that's not allowed and the school can punish you for that, but if you're doing something, say, wearing a black armband, which is not disruptive, which expresses a political point of view that some people disagree with, maybe the school administration would disagree with, but that doesn't mean you don't have the right to do it. that doesn't mean that the school can stop you from doing it simply because they disagree with your opinion. so this case, this ruling basically is what allows
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students, what allows you guys to express your political point of view and to take action, even if it's not an action that your school necessarily agrees with. >> i have a question. mary beth, you went to a public school and i know you used the term public schools as well. why do you keep saying public school? what does that mean for students in charter or private schools? mary beth: well, the first amendment protects you from government censorship or the government punishing you for for your speech. public schools are considered part of the government. which is kind of interesting. that's why the first amendment applies to them. unfortunately, the first amendment will not protect you from a private organization trying to censor your speech or setting rules about what you can say or what you can wear. if you do go to a private school, you don't necessarily have the same protections in school. outside of school, you are still a person so there are ways you can express your political point of view and opinion. within school, private schools can put more rules on what you
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can say and do. >> charter schools are public schools so you are covered by the first amendment in charter schools. >> i'm going to pass back to you. >> shall i continue the story? all right. so i grew up and became a nurse. i started working with teenagers and children as a nurse. i started to seeing all of these wonderful qualities that all of you have. i started thinking it's going to be really great when young people have their rights and use their voices to stand up and speak up about so many issues that affect our world today. so many kids are speaking up and standing up and it really has a big effect. i saw so many great qualities of young people, creativity, energy, a quality albert einstein said is more important than knowledge, which is imagination. have to imagine a better way of doing things before we get there.
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that is one thing that young people are so good at. i started traveling around the country and speaking with students. i left my hospital and decided it would be good for the health of young people if you can stand and speak up for the things that affect your lives and have a voice. i started meeting so many young people all over the country who are doing that. actually, there are so many young people around the world who are doing that because this is an international human rights issues, the issue of the rights of children and teenagers. and i started meeting kids who are changing their towns' law so they can vote now at age 16. two towns now in maryland where students can vote, tacoma park, maryland. i was so excited to go to brazil and tell them about the 16-year-olds in the u.s. they said our whole country has already has it so 16-year-olds
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can vote. i started learning so much about young people speaking up and standing up for themselves. do you like my van? i've been traveling around. here are some kids i met in washington, d.c., where we are right now, where we do not have senators or representatives who have a vote in congress. almost 700,000 people do not have representation to vote in congress. and these kids are doing something about it. they want us to be the 51st state. so they were down at the senate at a hearing there about washington, d.c. becoming the 51st state so we would have senators and representatives to vote in congress also. here are some kids on long island whose french teacher was laid off and they started a petition. were they using the first amendment, by the way, to do that? yes. the right to petition. here are some students i met down at the supreme court a couple of years ago. now i like to go hang around the supreme court.
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it's so much fun. there is always so much going on down there. here are students i met there standing up for immigration rights. are they using their first amendment rights? yes. here are some students in arizona. they were speaking up for safer gun laws. and they had a walkout there last week when i was in arizona speaking with students from arizona. all over the state they came to speak about the things they were speaking up and standing up about. and while i was there -- while i was in florida, the tampa area, where are our students from florida? yeah, all right. okay. yes. i'm so glad that students in florida are speaking up for safer gun laws. i spent most of my career as a trauma nurse with teenagers, and i would be the one taking care of the kids that got shot and injured by guns. so now i'm so glad that young people are speaking up for yourselves. and here's a student in tampa
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who was doing that just last weekend when i was there. but one of my favorite stops on the tinker tour was back at my old junior high school, warren harding junior high school, where i went a couple of years ago to celebrate 50 years after being suspended. and the principal and superintendent helped me plan a big celebration. we went to five high schools and elementary schools and back to my junior high school. they even dedicated a locker to me and my brother. that is me at warren harding junior high school. chris eckhart, the other plaintiff in our case, passed away a few years ago, so he missed being there. but i'm so glad to be with all of you as we celebrate the first amendment and young people who use it to make a better world. thank you. [ applause ] >> so i know we moved through that very quickly because we want to make sure we have enough time to get questions from all of you, because that's why you're here today.
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if you want to dig deeper into this, if you want to read more on the case or the first amendment, check out for additional resources to maybe dig into the questions you might have. but i want to open it up to ask a question. now this is how it will work, if you have any questions at all, raise your hand and a staff member will call on you. we can only have four people lined up at our central microphone at a time. don't worry if you're not in the first round, we're going to try our best to get to everyone. if you're watching via the live stream, just tweet at us and we have someone checking those tweets and we will try to read those in. there are a lot of people watching so i'm not sure if we'll get to everyone, but we'll try our best. feel free to ask questions you are have for mary beth or lata a or me and we'll get those
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answered. but i pulled out one i want to start it with. while you're raising your hands and getting ready to ask your questions and lining up, i'd like to ask one someone sent in in advance. so this is from seth at finley high school in ohio. and seth asked, what were some youand seth asked, what were some struggles you faced in your court case? why did you feel you needed to start the movement you did, and you have any regrets? >> the struggle that we faced mostly came from the haters, the crazy people who started sending us hate mail. some of it is right here at the newseum. some people would send letters saying why don't you go back to russia and china where you'll have oodles of freedom. i thought, what are they talking about, i'm from atlantic, iowa, where i was raised before we moved to des moines, iowa.
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and some people like that, you you know, they're still out there. they were sort of the trolls of 1965, but i think that was the hardest thing when people threw red paint at our house and called us communists just because we were speaking up for peace. my mom would say, we're not communists, we're methodists. [laughter] so we handled it with, you know, by just laughing at times and crying at times and always remembering the sacrifice that other people before us had made. we always thought about the birmingham kids and the other kids in the civil rights movement and people who had risked their lives and really stood up to make a difference to make our democracy better. >> and he asks why also did you feel the need to start this and did you have any regrets about this? >> why did i start it? i was just emotionally motivated as the young people i think at marjory stoneman douglas have been. there are strong emotions and those strong emotions call for strong action. that's the motivation. we would watch on the news the
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children running from their burning huts in vietnam and the soldiers lying on body bags. and these news reports that made us very sad and feel very emotional about all of this. that was our motivation. it's a natural drive for young people to express yourselves, even babies express themselves. so i think it really -- it's a natural drive. >> all right. i want to turn to our first question in the house. so if you'll introduce yourself and then ask the question. >> and excuse me, i also have signed arm bands for all of you asking your questions. yes. >> first and foremost, thank you ladies for putting this on. i'm a teacher at central dolphin east high school here with an array of students. my question is for mary beth. as a teacher, i know the power that my students possess, but you, someone who actually lived it and went through it, what would you tell them to keep their motivation and their spirits up, especially with everything going on in our country? >> what i found is that when you
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find an issue that you care about, and i know so many of you already have issues that you care about, and you join up with other people who also care about that issue to do something about it, life becomes very interesting. and meaningful. and you get to meet all kinds of great interesting people. like i'm meeting all of you today. and many days it's even fun, like today, so that is my advice. find some issue that you can speak up about and stand up about, and also, even as a child i felt sad about a lot of things. i still do today. i think because i've been a nurse working with children and teenagers for so many years, many things make me sad. for one thing, that kids don't have what you need a lot of times. and so i found that it really helps me to take action. and to do something about that. and it helps me to feel better. and i think that's helping the students in florida who and all over the country right now who are speaking up about the
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sadness that we all feel about the gun violence epidemic that is so out of control in our country right now. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> my name is miguel, i go to city east. >> hi, miguel. >> i know you stated that in the beginning of the court case, like, i mean -- in the beginning when you wore the armband, your school suspended you, but when you got to the supreme court and everything, did your school change their mind or were they still against you? how was your community -- did they support you or against you? mary beth: originally the schools had suspended us, five students. there was north high school where my brother john got suspended, roosevelt high school. i was at warren harding junior high school. it was 1965. so then we weren't sure what to do, but the aclu, they came and said that we think that that's not fair, what has happened to you, so we're going to try to help you change that. and they did help. and that's why it went to court.
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we wanted to try to work it out without court. i advise students, if you have a disagreement with your school, try to work it out without court. it's much better, which we did try to do, but then it went to court. so that's how we ended up at the supreme court. eventually the school did completely come around and change, even when the school board voted against us originally, it was 4-3. so three school board members said we should be allowed to wear our arm bands. there is always a difference of opinion about these things. the year that we won, roosevelt high school invited our lawyer, dan johnston, he was an amazing young lawyer, they invited him to be the keynote speaker at graduation at roosevelt high school. i have to hand it to the des moines schools. i've always enjoyed working with the des moines schools ever since. we're planning a big anniversary of the tinker ruling which will be there in february of 2019.
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>> thank you. >> all right. >> i will take a question from twitter, so we will turn it over to our virtual audience. >> i have three questions i will lump together, because they are on the same thought. one is for the school from international studies in new york. i have jaclyn asking a similar question from maryland, and payton from new york. they want you to compare students rights today with how they have involved, -- how they have evolved, either for the better or for the worse. educationl current standards give students more of the same freedom, or worse? >> are students better or worse today as far as rights?
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it depends the school where you are. just meeting with principles in arizona that want their students to use rights. i was a speaker at the national school board association just mg a year ago, with school attorneys. there are so many principal administrators. i'm no some of you have many in your schools that want you to stand up for yourself. there are young people that are not afraid to use your voices. i speak often with administrators, i always encourage the administrators to have students have a say in your schools. and not just over little things like what color to decorate with at homecoming, but real decisions that have to do with curriculum and what goes on in your schools. because when students have a voice, it's better for everyone in the school. >> lana, let me ask a question, are there any important first
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amendment developments or rulings that came between tinker and now that has influenced students' actions in schools? >> oh, yeah. one thing that happened after the tinker case was there was a supreme court decision in a case called hazelwood, which sent -- which said if you write for a school sponsored publication or like your school newspaper or your book, the school has a lot more control over what you can publish there. that was not such a great thing for student speech. does anybody here write for their school newspaper? that's awesome. unfortunately when you write for your school newspaper, if your principal or vice principal says no, that's too controversial or too critical of the school, you can't publish it because of that supreme court ruling. they have the power to do that as long as they have some educational reason for it. and that's -- i think that's unfortunate, because i think that you can learn a lot as a
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student journalist by following the stories you think are most crucial to your audience, but i will say if your school newspaper won't allow you to publish it, you can still, say, put it on a website and print it out and distribute it, as long as you are not substantially disrupting the school or invading the rights of your fellow students, you still have the right to speak out and convey your message. there is a lot more control when it comes to something that the school is putting out because it's thought of as the school's speech, not your speech. >> let me add to that. even with hazelwood, it depends what state you live in and what school you go to. 13 states now, washington state was just the last one about a week or two ago, in those states , the legislatures have passed laws saying we are going to support our student journalists. we're not going to go by the hazelwood decision. as long as the article is well-written and does not substantially disrupt school or impinge on the rights of others, our students will have -- you
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can check which states those are by going to the student press law center website. they deal with student journalism rights. >> all right. i'm going to turn to another question in the house. hi. >> hi. i'm christina from north broward prep in florida. i have a question for ms. tinker. when you were suspended, how did you react and how did your parents react? >> when i was suspended, how did i react? thank you. journalism rights. i just happened to bring my suspension paper today. [laughter] i'll show it to you. i found this in a box when i was cleaning out the closet a few months ago. wo mr. and mrs. tinker, this is to inform you mary beth has been suspended from school because she was wearing an armband that the board of education ruled against this week. i was nervous and worried when i was suspended and i didn't ever like to be in the spotlight.
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but over the years i've learned that if there's -- if i can help young people stand up and speak up, it's worth it. at the time i was very nervous and scared. i knew my mother would understand. i was a little bit more concerned about my dad. he said i don't think you kids should necessarily wear those arm bands, because the principal has made a rule and it's not easy being a principal. but us kids, we knew something understand. i was a little bit more about our dad, this is where young people, you're so persuasive. we knew that our dad had a soft spot for the conscience, because he had lived through world war ii. and he always said that we need to stand up for our conscience and to stand up for what's right because otherwise we could have the nazis in charge. and so when our dad said that, we said, but, dad, it's our conscience. then he came over to our side. so i was really lucky about that. but i was nervous and scared the
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whole time. going to court, i was nervous. i was really worried about whether i was wearing the right kind of outfit for, you know, court and things like that. i mean, i was worried about a lot of ordinary things. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> all right. another one from someone here. hi. >> hello. mime name is jacquelin peters, i'm a sophomore at central dolphin east high school. tinker.ion is for ms. if you could change one thing that you did, what would it be and why? mary beth: if i could change one thing about all of this, well, do i have to pick just one? there would be several. one thing i always thought is that we should have taken more photos, because we don't have a lot of photos of that period, but another thing if i could add one more, i would probably try to be a little less clueless. i was so clueless about how important this case was going to be. i had no idea. no idea it was going to be a big landmark case. you think i would get the idea because it was the supreme court. i was busy.
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i just moved to a new school when we went to the supreme court, and i was really thinking about who i was going to be friends with in algebra and where i was going to have lunch. >> thank you. >> i'm going to take a question from our virtual audience. hi. >> we have several people on twitter noticing the pin that you are wearing. >> ah, yes, the pin. >> if you could explain that, please. >> well, i am the luckiest person because i got to meet marshall, who is thurgood marshall's wife, who was a wonderful. his wife gave me a pin with his picture of thurgood marshall. i always wear this when i speak to students because i want you to know that thurgood marshall is here in spirit. he wanted young people to have your rights and speak up and use your first amendment rights to
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make a better world. >> i'm jordan from north broward prep in florida. i have a question for ms. tinker. a lot of schools have been planning walk-outs in florida, but i know some public schools have been putting restrictions on them. how do you feel about that and how do you feel about how it goes against our first amendment? >> that some students are planning walkouts this week. i know it's a very big week for student voices, but some schools are putting restrictions on them , you are saying, and how to deal with that. i have talked to so many principals that are encouraging students to work with them, to have a walkout that, you know, works for everybody. where the principles can feel like it's safe and that they -- the students also feel like they're expressing their message. can you tell me the restrictions they're dealing with there? >> west boca, decided they were having 17 minutes of silence and decided instead of doing that they were going to walk to douglas. the next day they locked the
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gates and said it was wrong what they did and can't do it again . i think at some point, we can talk about civil disobedience. that is basically what we did. there ruled that you believe is wrong marlie, let us say, gun balance. if it is something that you think it is wrong. and number two, the action has to be peaceful. number three, if you are willing to take the consequences. some students might decide that -- if you feel really strongly , if i walkgun issue
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out, am willing to take the consequences of being suspended. sometimes, it is worth it to pay you tries, but sometimes have to be ready for that. thereh a school work out is a good chance that they might punish you, and you could consider that to be destructive. but again, it is a decision that you make knowing that it would be possible -- possible for the school to punish you. if that is not possible, then they can punish you, so that is something that you need to think about. i will say, if the school locks students in, it is usually a
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fire code violations. if that is something that is happening, you should inform the appropriate authorities, it is a shortcut to getting the students to do what you want them to do. they can punish you for walkings out, but they cannoteal -- they can't seal you in. >> i am a student from the university of texas school of law. when i do things we have really seen is the university and university -- the difficulty in the university campuses of debating and discussing, but also the hazards of having really high-profile individuals and maintaining security on those campuses. how do you think we can encourage of balance between allowing for free speech on campus and ensuring that these debates and protests don't get out of hand? >> yes, it's a huge issue. free speech on college campuses and the issue of hate speech and
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how much should the schools be responsible for security and how much do we weigh the first amendment, you're free speech rights, with the 14th amendment, equal protection? this is a legitimate debate that is going on in the country. i personally lean towards free speech and away from censorship, and i think that even with hate speech, you know, unless it's violent or threatening violence, as you said, that we have to be willing to tolerate some degree of speech that we don't approve of. that we don't agree with. especially at college campuses, how are we going to, you know -- what do you think about it? >> i tend to lean the same way. the fact that i think allowing for a civil discourse to be able to consider various ideas is really healthy to have especially students here today to be able to hear kind of how you went through various
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experiences. i think that's how we're going to educate the masses more, by having those kinds of informed informed discussions. i would agree with that. >> a high school student came up to me recently after a talk, i think it was in illinois, and said, i like your speech and everything. but, can you please be sure to talk about love more? so i said, well, yes, i will. and it really is about love and respect. even the first amendment is a guide for how we can deal with controversy and how we can deal with disagreement in our culture with respect. that we respect everyone's viewpoint and we respect not necessarily what they say, we don't agree with what they say necessarily, but we can respect them and we respect all religions. that's the wonderful thing about democracy. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> i'm going to take a question from our virtual audience. >> okay. here is the question. if students have the freedom to wear this black armband, why are there particular dress codes and speech filters like that in
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place in public schools? >> that's a really good question. >> so in some cases like a -- so what you wear is a form of speech. and in the case of the black arm bands, it was seen as a kind of speech. bands, it was seen as a kind of speech. it is political speech that doesn't invade anybody else's rights or disrupt the school environment. and the interesting thing is there was another case that came along years later where a student wore a t-shirt to school that had an anti-gay slur on it, and that was not -- and he was asked to take off the t-shirt. and in that case, it was not considered a valid exercise of his first amendment rights because even though it was a t-shirt, it had a message on it, it was seen since it was pretty offensive to any student who might identify as gay or really anybody in general, it was seen as invading the rights of other students. so just because it's an article of clothing, it doesn't mean it's necessarily nondisruptive or a noninvasive form of speech. it depends case by case. that's kind of how the first amendment works. you have to look at stuff in context and each instance is
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different from every other instance. you can't really have a blanket rule or clothing or any particular type of speech. >> courts have generally upheld school dress codes. >> all right. let's hear your question. >> hi, i'm kira, i'm from the marco island charter middle school with mr. jarrett. i have a question for ms. tinker. you said that you lost two of your court cases. so what kept you -- inspired you to move on even though you had lost? >> since we lost at the district level and then we lost at the appeals level, how did we keep the, you know, strength or the did we keep the strength or the motivation to keep going on? it was hard because i am alone, from andrej kramaric is to make
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life a little unpleasant, of course. but they are out there, but we find ways to ignore them. -- it was hard because of, well, for one thing, the haters do make life a little unpleasant, of course. but they are out there, but we find ways to ignore them. right? yeah. but the worst thing was that the war kept going on and the war kept building up. and it was really awful, and so many people were going off to war from our area there where we lived in des moines. and so i think what kept me motivated was knowing young people through history who were standing up as well. i mean, even the birmingham kids, the little rock nine, i started learning about more kids in the civil rights movement. and i was like well, if they can risk their lives, then it is the least we can do. go down and give this deposition and things like that. and also, we knew that there was so much misery going on in vietnam, among the families of soldiers and things. so we always kind of compared it to that. it didn't seem so bad then. >> thank you. >> hello, i'm amber wolf from north proward prep in florida. my question is for ms. tinker. why did you decide to become a nurse after all of the court cases? >> why did i decide to be a nurse?
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i liked doing practical things. if somebody fell over right now in this room, i would sort of know what to do. i kind of like that idea. so i really liked nursing, and i really liked being with kids and teenagers. and i don't know, it was just something -- it sort of combined the practical skills, like even start ivs and things like that, but also you can combine making a better world, like preventing kids from being shot in the first place. so they don't need an iv. so i liked to focus on that part of nursing also, to help kids be healthy and strong so you don't need to end up in hospitals and emergency rooms. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> my name is evan perez. so my school tomorrow, they're having a walkout for all the gun violence and stuff. and i was just wondering if
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there's any advice you can give us to get our protests going. >> you're having a walkout tomorrow at your high school. what's your high school? >> central dauphin east high school. oh, urine harrisburg, pennsylvania. that's right. so you have it planned to walk out for tomorrow? that good. what is your plan? >> i think around student lunches we're going to -- >> oh, yeah, chime in there. we've got both of you. let's great. >> so a group of us had a plan, we talked to our principal who approved it and then we talked to our administration, and they're like this is a great idea. so we got them involved. so a group of us came together with a plan to security, what we wanted, our message is for young people to speak up and ask for change. >> that sounds great. what is your name? >> alisa. >> so you are at east high school in harrisburg,
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pennsylvania, and you worked with your principal and with the administration and teachers. so you have a plan. are you going to leave at 10:00 a.m.? i think that is the time that a lot of -- >> we actually have three students giving speeches. so we're going to go ahead and they're going to speak about mental health, gun reform and the nra. and then at ten minutes we're going to have for 17 minutes. >> that's great, you have a whole program set up, give speeches about gun reform and school safety and the nra and then you're going to have some silence or something else in there? i think that is wonderful. it sounds like a great idea. come on, everybody. [applause] it sounds a car good plan. so now you're trying to just tell other students about it and get more students involved or something like that, get the word around? >> yeah. >> great. well, you'll have to write to me and let me now how it works out. anyone is free to write me, and i'll write you back. marybethtinker@gmail
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>> that's fantastic, and i think that's exactly what you should be doing, exercising your rights, being well organized, raising awareness, fantastic. >> go ahead. >> i'm christian from st. john's university. you mentioned in maryland how students now can vote at the age of 16. and i thought that's a great idea, i thought that was cool. where -- at what point do they become -- does a student become an informed voter? you made this case at 13. we should have kids voting at 13, or just keep it 16? is there kind of a line that you think should be drawn? >> you're asking about voting in greenbelt, maryland, and tacoma, maryland. by the way, the is for local elections -- that is for local elections. they still can't vote for president and senators.
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where should the limit be for students voting? word do you think it should be? is not like there is a specific -- i sort of 16 text because people around the world are focusing on that, and there are campaigns in various cities to change the voting age to 16. it seems like from a developmental, you know, point, it's probably pretty reasonable. what do you think about it? it's not like there's a set answer to any of this. >> i think that a younger age, makes sense, that students should be involved and providing them the right to do that, especially on a local level, will allow them to vote, and know the value, and the power of their voting from a younger age. i also think that if we were to do that, we also need to make sure that we teach younger people, the value of voting and what the goal and the purpose is of voting. i'm not sure all education
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systems at a younger age do that on a younger level. >> yes, i know. i agree with you. there should be more civics and more emphasis on teaching students what voting is about and what the issues are about and things like that, too. but to be fair, a lot of adults don't know a lot of that as well, and they do have the right to vote regardless of where they're at in their own development, or in their own knowledge of things going on. so that's why, it's fair to think about it. and we didn't always have the voting age at 18. that only got changed during the vietnam war. it used to be 21. so i think it should just keep coming down a little bit more and include more young voices. thank you. like yours. how old are you? >> i'm 18. you can register right now. >> my name is zachary nemark. i'm in north brower preparatory school in florida. some of the kids involved with it they don't have enough time to socialize and probably sometimes lose friends.
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did this happen to you, and what do you think about this, the kids going into it and they're losing their friends? >> not having enough time -- you are saying if you get involved with these issues, you may not even have time for your social life, and you might lose friends? >> the ones going to interviews and all that stuff, what do you think about how they're losing their friends, because they have to do interviews and that this happened to you? >> kids have to get involved in issues like, say, gun violence . and then they get all involved and they are trying to build up the number of kids who are watching whatever they do, and then they might lose their friends and not have much time for their social life. so what can the kids do, and what about that? i mean, i think you have to balance, everything in life is a balance, i think. i'm a nurse. i want you to be healthy and balanced. if you get stressed, take a little rest, call a friend, drink some juice, do something that will help you feel better.
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take a little rest, do something that you like because it's fun, some hobby or something like that. we do have to have a balance. because if you just do -- work on some issue that you care about, like gun violence all the time, you might -- you know, it might get too stressful. i think those students -- everybody, all of us, have to find ways to balance. are you finding ways to balance your life to bank? o? >> yes. >> yeah, good. >> thank you. >> glad to hear that. >> i'm going to take one more question from the virtual audience. >> this one comes from finley high school. after you ran into opposition to the arm band, did you consider protesting in any other way, a different way? >> did we consider protesting in other ways after we ran into opposition on the arm bands? yes. that's what i always tell students also. there's always some way that you can express your views. there was some students with the providence student union in rhode island, and they got tired of all the tests, tests, so they dressed up like guinea pigs and rats and they went to the state legislature.
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that's how they expressed themselves. they got in the news about that. i think they stopped that graduation requirement for yet another test. we couldn't wear our black arm bands back to school after christmas, we wore all black clothes for the rest of the year. and we said, well, they can't tell us to take our clothes off. so, you see, there's always a way. there's always a way to express yourself. >> last question. >> thank you so much. my name is amelia. i'm a scholar at st. johns university. one of the first few slides, you spoke on limitations of the i was wondering if you can first amendment. elaborate on the last one, it says the infringing of others rights, unfortunately, there are 964 hate groups across our country, according to those southern law poverty center research. it worries me that our political
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culture extends these limitations to this hateful ideology. i was wondering if you can give me more information on how our government defines infringement of others' human rights. >> absolutely. something a lot of people don't know is that hate speech is protected by the first amendment. which, you know, ooinl noti'm -- you know, i am betty liu fan of hate speech. i think it's a horrible thing. but the problem is, is that it's very hard for anyone to define what is hate speech and what isn't, and what is offensivive, -- what is offensive and what isn't. while i'm no fan of hate speech, i worry about the government, or your school administration, or anyone being the ones to draw that line. because it's really easy for that line to -- when somebody else is basically deciding, okay, this is -- we're not going
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to allow anything that's offensive. it's really easy for that to encompass more and more things. that's why, even though i think it is very troubling that we have such hateful dialogue, and that there are so many active hate groups right now, but the problem with trying to ban them is that you end up banning a lot of other things as well. because, you know there are campuses that have put in codes saying we're not going to have any hateful groups and then that same thing was used to shut down a pro-palestinian group, shut down a chapter of black lives matter. a few other things too. i think because of that slippery slope, the best thing you can do when you're confronted with something hateful, the answer to that kind of speech is more speech, speak out against it. never forget you also have first amendment rights. sometimes it's the best thing to do to drown it out with the counter-argument to that. >> well, thank you so much everyone for your questions, both those of you who are here and those of you watching virtually. and and especially huge thank
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you to both of our guests for joining us today. if you would like to continue the conversation, tonight, having a chat, and sharing resources from our website , thank you very much, everyone. [applause] announcer: you can learn more about tinker versus des moines independent school district next month when he take another look at the historic supreme court decision as part of our series,
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landmark cases. that is monday the 23rd right here on c-span. you can also watch online at or listen on our free c-span radio app. c-span, where history unfolds daily. created as aan was public service by america's cable-television companies. today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington dc and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. sunday on c-span's q&a. tomrado college professor cronin talks about his book "imagining a great republic" political novels and the idea of america. i think that reading
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