What is censorship, English

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Censorship

The First Amendment states Congress shall make no law. . . abridging freedom of speech, or of the press. . .With rare exceptions, the First Amendment allows the media to publish what they choose. They may be sued later, but except under the most dire and rare national emergencies, they cannot be silenced before the fact.That principle is a cornerstone of media freedom in the United States: The news cannot be censored or controlled through prior restraint before it is published or broadcast. The media is answerable to the law only after the fact. [For more on censorship in American history, please see the US Government course.]

For high school journalists, the situation is more complicated. In the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeir (1988) case, the United States Supreme Court decided basically that the rights of public high school students were not the same as the rights of adults in other settings. The Hazelwood (Mo.) East High School student newspaper wanted to publish a story about birth control in which students talked frankly about their sexual history; the principal thought that this material was inappropriate for high school students and forbade the paper from publishing the story. The Court ruled that the student newspaper at Hazelwood East High School was not a forum for public expression by students, and thus censored students were not entitled to broad First Amendment protection. The Court said that principals could censor material that they felt was inappropriate if they could justify the censorship on the basis of reasonable pedagogical concerns.

A high school newspaper is typically a product of a journalism class taught by a teacher during the school day, or journalism or publications club that is advised by a teacher after school.The school principal pays this teacher salary and typically provides the equipment and classroom space for the newspaper publication. So a student newspaper produced by the school is part of the school educational mission, and the principal, acting on behalf of the elected school board, is in charge of that mission.Thus, the school principal is the publisher of the student paper. The Supreme Court ruling in Hazelwood says that when the school paper is part of the school curriculum, and not a public forum independent of the school, the principal has the right to censor it.

 


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