June 8, 2023
By: Dorothy Moon, IDGOP Chairwoman
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is an essential guarantee that protects individuals’ fundamental right to freedom of speech. Its significance cannot be emphasized enough. Throughout history, this right has played a crucial role in our republic, serving as a cornerstone that fosters open dialogue, encourages the exchange of ideas, and ensures government accountability to the people.
Recent media coverage of a high school student in Kellogg, Idaho, who was prohibited from walking in his graduation ceremony due to expressing offensive speech, has sparked discussions about the boundaries of free speech and its impact on individuals’ livelihoods.
The First Amendment safeguards several fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. Among these, freedom of speech lies at the very core of our society. It not only guarantees individual autonomy but also nurtures intellectual growth and promotes a vibrant marketplace of ideas.
Even Supreme Court case law recognizes that students’ First Amendment rights extend within the confines of public schools. In the landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the Court affirmed that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
In Kellogg, Idaho, the high school student faced consequences for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. In the last few days of school, graduating students were given the opportunity to offer some words of wisdom to the student body. The student at the center of the controversy made the remark, “Guys are guys and girls are girls. There is no in between.” Did school administrators consider this young man’s speech offensive and discriminatory? If that’s the case, then by the same reasoning, every basic biology textbook would be deemed discriminatory.
Consider where we find ourselves now: The basic principles of biology are now regarded as hateful and discriminatory speech. It is important to note that this isn’t happening in some distant location like Massachusetts or at a school in Democrat-controlled California; this is taking place right here in Idaho.
Depriving a student of the opportunity to participate in their graduation ceremony for exercising their First Amendment rights establishes a concerning precedent. Furthermore, it has been reported that the job this young man had lined up for the summer has since been revoked. It is never acceptable for a student or an adult to have their livelihood stripped away for exercising their First Amendment rights.
It is crucial to approach the issue of speech suppression and censorship with vigilance. We are currently witnessing the lefts’ attempt to control and manipulate the boundaries of acceptable speech under the guise of tolerance and inclusivity. This ideological manipulation has resulted in the labeling of differing viewpoints as hate speech, stifling open dialogue, and inhibiting the expression of different perspectives. It is vital to recognize that restrictions on free expression have far-reaching consequences for individual liberties, and we must resist this effort to control speech.
When the left claims they are not attempting to control what you say or do, don’t believe them. That is absolutely what they are doing.
Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon issued the above guest column that first published in the Times-News, and now will be published in other media outlets around Idaho.