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This event happens every year all over the country. However, Texas high school valedictorian had his microphone cut recently while giving the graduation commencement speech. He departed from his pre-approved words. Rather, he began discussing his 1st Amendment rights that his school was (supposedly) violating with his pre-approved speech. The FB group Proud to an American posted the story. I posted the reply below. MFC folk might or might not find the words interesting.
Undoubtedly, other Schmoes have encountered similar censorship of public expression--especially in high schools. Potentially, people have their own stories and comments to communicate. As with any legal rights, one must ask "What is best and fairest for all parties involved?"
Jeff · Works at Soda distributor
"I am of two minds about censoring the graduation speeches of high school valedictorians.
ON ONE HAND, a prepared speech usually sounds better than any impromptu speech, and a speech edited and reviewed by teachers sounds better generally than any speech composed by a student. Stylistics and aesthetics dictate that the speech sound good. Also, the graduation speech is for everyone present at the ceremony. It has to be for a mixed audience, and school-approved speeches are generally safe this way. Neither an individual student nor a minority group can use the ceremonial forum for a personal soapbox.
ON THE OTHER HAND, censorship sends utterly the wrong message to the valedictorian and to the students present. These graduating seniors are supposed to be entering adulthood. Yet, the school is clearly not treating them like adults. They are not being allowed to speak freely. They are not being allowed to make expressions that then have certain consequences (most of us may practice free speech, but DO need to live with the subsequent happy or sad consequences). Also, high school graduation is for everyone, yes. However, the event is centrally for the graduates, not other parties. The valedictorian should be able to speak the words most meaningful to the guests of honor. Others present will just have to tolerate this free speech. They will just have to tolerate the valedictorian's words and how the young adult says them. Also, as most commentators [in this FB thread] have pointed-out, Americans have a Constitutional right to free speech. We abandon our ideals when we suppress citizens such as this young American was suppressed and silenced. In turn, our nation's necessary discourse becomes the weaker because it contains only a self-preserving oligarchy's ideas. If they choose, if their minds and hearts are ready, Americans can always stand to talk with one another and to hear each other out. We are sophisticated enough. We shall be a smarter and actually closer people if we get to know each other without fear or occlusion.
BTW, I got censored at my high school graduation. I was not valedictorian. However, I had "I feel free" written on the mortarboard. Why? Because for four fucken years, I felt utterly fucken oppressed and frustrated at that school. So, departing was a euphoric liberation. Teachers told me that I would not graduate unless I wore a different "clean" mortarboard. Oddly enough, faculty made sure that I did not feel free one more time. That is their shame."
I can expand upon anything written above if anyone wishes. This blog is a long comment, so I assume that no one will read this. In that way, I really am safe to write whatever the fuck I want. In 2013, a person has freedom of speech to some degree, but he had better construct his comments for the short-attention-span-theatre crowd. Oddly enough, saying a lot is the same as saying nothing these days. But, I am somewhat okay with that. After all, I might write something that offends others. The decreasing American attention span (scientifically proven to be occurring over the generations with each generation having a shorter average attention span than the previous) preserves my freedom of expression. God bless America.