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Threats to Free Speech

Below are assorted news articles that present threats to the first Amendment:

Associated Press
FALMOUTH, Mass. A high school student who was suspended for comparing his band teacher to Adolf Hitler in an e-mail says his free-speech rights are being violated.

"The school is spitting in the face of anyone who's fought for free speech," Adam Muse, who is 16 and a junior at the school, told the Boston Herald.

He sent an e-mail to friends late last month, calling band leader Tom Borning, his wife and an assistant as "Hitler, his wife and Hermann Goering."

Muse said someone apparently forwarded the message to dozens of students, and one put a copy on Borning's desk.

After school officials heard about it, they suspended Muse for two days on Dec. 3, and barred him from playing in the annual Falmouth Christmas Parade.

School Principal Paul Cali reduced the suspension to one day, but continued the ban on Muse's playing in the parade.

School Superintendent Peter Clark said the punishment was not an attack on free speech.

Muses' "message included issues of opinion and fact. The student was suspended for issues of factual error in the message, not his opinion," Clark said.

"Schools can penalize students for off-campus behavior that is a danger to the school," said Clark.

"The question of whether this was a danger to the school is open. It was a pretty outrageous opinion," he said.

"Overstatement doesn't nullify First Amendment rights," said T. Barton Carter, a professor of communications law at Boston University.

"The school is sending a message that they don't believe in an open exchange of ideas and speech," he said.

"What's going on with the First Amendment in Falmouth? The discipline doesn't seem appropriate for the offense," said John Reinstein, executive director of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

Muse conceded he made an "extremely angry rant." But, he said, "before they started pushing me around, I had written an apology. But if I take anything back now, it won't be from the heart."

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