Know Your Rights

Students Exercise First Amendment Rights

Rachael Mueller, Staff

In this day and age of #Never Again and #Me Too, students are taking a stand and fighting for what they believe in. That wouldn’t be possible without the First Amendment, which means U.S. citizens are guaranteed the freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. Therefore, knowing how and when to exercise these rights is important for everyone to know.

One student who is politically active in his community is senior Karson Harris. He has attended protests about issues including the March for Our Lives, K.C. Walkout and Net Neutrality. Harris believes protests are a good way for people under 18 who can’t vote to support their cause.

“I’m not going to lie, I love protests; they’re amazing,” said Harris.

One thing Harris believes is that the most important thing for students to do is exercise their First Amendment rights.

“I try to go to as many political events as I can and really use my voice to talk to people and ask questions,” said Harris.

For sophomore Steven Jenne the First Amendment is important to him, because he believes that communication is key. Jenne is in debate and the Young Republicans Club.

“I think it’s better that people just talk and actually at least know what they’re voting for,” said Jenne.

Another student involved in local politics is senior Joshua Potratz. Potratz is a former intern of the Missouri Democratic Party. Potratz also participates in Students Demand Action and the Young Democrats Club.

“First amendment is important to me because it has clear benefits that prevent tyranny of the government and allows me to express my thoughts,” said Potratz.

In the past, Potratz has exercised his right of free speech by going to rallies for gun control and against child separation.

“A right can only go so far until it comes into conflict with another right, and I believe that the right to safety trumps every other right,” said Potratz.

The word censorship is often thrown around by people whenever posts get deleted or accounts get closed.Private companies, like social media sites, have the right to take down posts and accounts. If a post is deemed inappropriate or violates their standards, they have complete freedom to remove the post. A person’s right is only taken away if they are being censored by the government.

In the case of Hazelwood vs Kuhlmeier the school newspaper wrote a story on teen pregnancy. Their principle decided that it was too inappropriate and didn’t allow them to publish the story. The case went to court and the school district won. The case’s outcome enforces the idea that the school does have the right to censor students if they believe it’s necessary.

People understanding their First Amendment rights and knowing the limit to those rights is key.

“If they don’t represent how they feel now, they will never be represented,” said Harris.

Graphic By Rachael Mueller

Graphic by Rachael Mueller

Graphic By Rachael Mueller

Graphic By Rachael Mueller

Graphic By Rachael Mueller