Dissenting Opinion In Bethel S Essay, Research Paper
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
When I was a high school student, the use of those words in a public forum shocked the Nation. Today Clark Gable’s four-letter expletive is less offensive than it was then. Nevertheless, I assume that high school administrators may prohibit the use of that word in classroom discussion and even in extracurricular activities that are sponsored by the school and held on school premises. For I believe a school faculty must regulate the content as well as the style of student speech in carrying out its educational mission. however, if a student is to be punished for using offensive speech, he has the right to be notified of the scope of the prohibition and the consequences of its violation. The interest in free speech protected by the First Amendment and the interest in fair procedure protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment combine to require this conclusion.
The student was an outstanding person. The fact that he was chosen by the student body to speak at the school’s graduation showed that he was respected by his peers. This is relevant for two reasons. It confirms the conclusion that the punishment was serious enough to justify invocation of the School District’s grievance procedures. More importantly, it indicates that he probably could determine better than a judge whether an audience composed of his peers would be offended.
The fact that the speech may not have been offensive to his audience does not mean that he had a constitutional right to deliver it. For it is the schools responsibility to set the rules of conduct in an educational institution. However, it does mean that he should not be punished for speaking truthfully in a school assembly if he had no reason to anticipate any consequences.
He could have anticipated consequences if they would have been stated in one of three ways. 1-It violated the “Disruptive Conduct” rule published in the student handbook; 2- e was specifically warned by his teachers; or 3-the rudeness is so obvious that no specific notice was required. Nevertheless the evidence (school rule book, testimony by two of the three teachers whom he showed the speech prior to delivering it, and the fact that since it was his peers and he was speaking in their language ) show that none of these three happened.
It can be concluded that it was highly unlikely that he would have decided to give the speech had he known that it would result in severe punishment. Therefore, this dissenting opinion is against the majority ruling of the court.