Student's Free Speech Victory Is A Victory For Everyone Even If You Disagree With His Speech

from the your-right-to-say-it dept

As strong proponents of free speech, we've made the point in the past that protecting the freedom of speech is going to necessitate protecting it for the kind of speech you wouldn't typically like to exist. Put another way, it's quite easy to be in favor of free speech when you aren't the one offended. It takes much more mental courage to stick up for the protected speech of a Nazi, a bigot, a sexist, or an idiot.

Or, as in this case, someone who ascribes to religious thoughts with which you may not agree. The story of then high school student Daniel Glowacki, who was kicked out of class simply for saying that his Catholicism didn't allow him to accept homosexuals, acts as a lesson in protecting the speech of others. It began, as you'd never expect, in a Michigan classroom, with a child wearing confederate flag belt. When the teacher, Johnson McDowell asked her to remove the belt, Glowacki pointed out that the teachers were all wearing purple for "Anti-Bullying Day." That's when things took a turn:

The teacher testified that he gave Glowacki an explanation on the difference in symbolism between the confederate and rainbow flag, to which Glowacki responded, "I don't accept gays because I am Catholic." Glowacki was instructed to leave and another student who shared the same belief asked to leave with him. According to affidavits from other students in the classroom, McDowell told them that "students cannot voice an opinion that creates an uncomfortable learning environment for another."
Which, for those of you who may not remember what school was like, is complete and utter nonsense. More to the point, speech is absolutely protected. That's why the fact that McDowell then kicked the students out of the class was a massive misstep. Despite the myth, students do not leave their constitutional rights at the doorway of their public school.

Now, it would be quite easy for me, and many like me, to say that Glowacki's beliefs are bigoted, homophobic, wrong, and outdated. And I do say every single one of those things. But I'd be damned before I allow his right to say exactly what he said to be infringed upon. The thing about insisting that free speech is afforded the right to offend, regardless of any discomfort for those around us, is it cuts both ways. If we're going to insist that we keep any sort of mandatory religion out of public schools (and we should), and if we're going to insist the curriculum be secular (and we should), then we also have to afford those that don't agree their right to voice their opposition.

Here's the good news: it seems like nearly everyone involved in this case agrees, and they even did so without resorting to over-the-top punitive nonsense.
However, the school district disagreed with his reason of reprimand, stating that it was based on McDowell's own personal offense [and] Judge Duggan held that the teacher violated the student's First Amendment rights by engaging in viewpoint discrimination.
"As a reasonable teacher, McDowell should have known that Daniel's protected speech could not serve as the basis for discipline or as the basis for believing a school district policy was violated," the judge said.
McDowell's punishment? $1 in damages to Glowacki. It might seem like a small amount for having violated a child's constitutional right to speech, but come on, this ended perfectly. The lesson isn't in the punishment. The lesson is that the enlightened position on speech is the protection of unenlightened speech.


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 31 Jul 2013 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What's good for the goose...

    Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know that I was obligated to respond to every minute detail of whatever you decide to post, but then neither did you. Who cares what psychologists *think* about anything? As far as science is concerned, once again, there exists no "gay gene," just as there exists no "prostitution gene" or "transgender gene." You've proven nothing.

    I swear I feel like I'm arguing with AJ here... 'Oh that's some nice counter-evidence you've presented there, I'll just ignore it and move on shall I?'

    You know, you could have saved me a whole lot of time and effort if you'd just said from the get-go 'I will ignore any evidence you present, no matter the source, if I don't agree with it'.

    Also, as awesome as it must be to know more about science and psychology than, you know, actual scientists and psychologists, which you would have to be to claim that all of them are wrong, you'd think you would have led with that little tidbit first.

    Annoyance aside, had you actually read the wiki page(which I'm 97% sure wouldn't have caused you to spontaneously combust), you'd have found out that the general consensus as to 'cause' of sexual orientation is thought to be a range of things, none of them 'choosing to be X/Y/Z'.

    Here, have another relevant quote to ignore:

    'Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. In recent decades, biologically based theories have been favored by experts. Although there continues to be controversy and uncertainty as to the genesis of the variety of human sexual orientations, there is no scientific evidence that abnormal parenting, sexual abuse, or other adverse life events influence sexual orientation. Current knowledge suggests that sexual orientation is usually established during early childhood.'
    -The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in Pediatrics in 2004

    After all, going by the government's definition, money is "free speech."

    Oh now you're going to say that something the government decided is okay, when it supports your argument, handy that.

    Just pointing out the fact that same-sex marriage comes along when corruption in government is at all-time record highs and not by sheer coincidence either.

    That loud 'whoosh!' noise would be the point sailing clean over your head. Saying 'the government is corrupt means everything that comes out of it is also corrupt' is just cheap cop-out, in an attempt to ignore or paint anything they pass that you don't agree with as 'corrupt or not mattering'.

    Government should even be involved in marriage to begin with.

    Fair enough, so the religious can have their religious marriage, and others can have their secular marriage, and you would have no objections to that, right?

    Homosexuals are not in some isolated box where only they have experienced discrimination and hate crimes.

    And I said they were when? I'm merely pointing out that injustice and persecution doesn't stop being injustice and persecution if you don't happen to like the group in question.

    Also, comparing homosexuals to prostitutes, classy, real great argument there. /s

    Keep putting words in my mouth.

    Considering what you said right above this this comment is all sorts of funny, not to mention hypocritical.

    I only brought up black slavery because earlier you attempted to lump homosexuality in with their plight when it's FAR from the same thing.

    Have homosexuals had it as bad? No, but to pretend that there are no similarities is to demonstrate a great ignorance(whether willful or otherwise) of history.

    -Considered immoral and 'lesser' due entirely to something they had no choice over? Check.
    -Beaten, harassed, killed and otherwise treated differently due to their 'difference'? Check.
    -Had laws specifically targeting them passed to deprive them of equal treatment, including right to marry who they wish to? Check.

    No, because I'm not attempting to use either one to ask the government for special privileges, nor am I looking to garner sympathy.

    Yeah... about that. Considering you apparently object strongly to the orphanages you list as your example below getting the same treatment any other group who refused to follow the state laws would, you obviously do think the religious deserve special privileges.

    And if all the cries of 'Persecution!' that occur any time the religious are told that they have to stop treating certain groups like, oh, how did you put is 'deviant perverts' and deserving of less rights aren't attempts to garner sympathy for your cause, then obviously I've been going off the wrong definitions of those words.

    Once again you're attempting to equate a deviant perversion with the color of people's skin and gender. They're not even remotely the same.

    'Deviant perversion'? According to who?

    According to science(which you appear to ignore when convenient) homosexuality is a natural occurrence, nothing deviant or perverse about it.

    According to the dictionary, 'deviant' is simply 'deviating from the norm', which would make something as simple as being left-handed qualify someone as a 'deviant'.

    As far as 'perversion', something that happens naturally cannot in any way shape or form be a 'perversion', even if it does offend people like you.

    "How about being denied the ability to get married in the first place? Being denied the ability to adopt due being considered 'unfit parents'? Being denied the legal rights that regular married couples have? That 'punishment' enough for you?"

    If anything, in the name of "tolerance," homosexual activists, along with government officials, are stomping on religious freedom.


    I notice you didn't answer the question, so I'll ask again: regarding the examples I listed, are they or are they not punishments for nothing more than the 'crime' of being gay, the punishments that you claimed you'd never heard of happening?

    Speaks for itself, really.

    Yes, it does, but more about what you consider 'religious persecution' than the point you were trying to make.

    You seem to be saying that it's 'religious persecution' for a group(in this case the catholic run orphanages) to be denied state funding or recognition after having refused to follow state laws, when all it really is is a natural consequence of their actions.

    Refuse to follow the laws of the state? Guess what, you will no longer be recognized by the state or receive state funding. This should not be a hard concept to grasp, and yet the fact that you consider such a thing as 'religious persecution' would certainly explain why you are seeing it everywhere, as you appear to believe that religious institutions should get a 'get out of consequences free' card when it comes to following the laws.

    Even if I weren't a religious person, I'd still be opposed to homosexuality.

    Yeah, I'm sure. /s

    Here's a challenge for you then: give a non-religious or non-emotional based reason that homosexuals should be treated different with regards to rights and equal treatment.

    To save time:
    'It's immoral': Religious argument, as morality/sin are primarily religious concepts.
    'It's disgusting': Emotional argument on it's own, usually based on unfamiliarity and the fact that the 'strange/different' cause people instinctive unease/fear.
    'It's unnatural': Emotional/religious argument, as something that occurs in nature is by definition not unnatural.

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