The Battle for Free Speech Extends…to High School?


These days, the battlegrounds for the debates over free speech are usually found at university campuses. From Yale to Berkeley, students are challenging higher education's long tradition of open engagement with tendentious ideas.

But what about speech in the halls of high school? As California students recently discovered, federal law curtailed their rights to a free media decades ago. When the newspaper staff at San Gabriel High School wanted to write about the recent firing of a popular teacher, the school administration censored the student reporters. Then they suspended the journalism teacher who supported the rights of the students.

As the students learned, the Supreme Court held that high school newspapers are the property of the school. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) ruled that the speech contained within belongs entirely to the school and its administration.

California state law, however, tilts the balance of rights back in the favor of a free media. Knowing this, the students at San Gabriel High School fought back. And that's when things got interesting.

Watch Reason TV's video for the full story.

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  1. And if they rap about it outside of school, the school will still come after them.

    1. It’s just preparation for when the FBI comes next

    2. Man, just take a bong hit for Jesus and relax.

  2. This sounds like a California school actually teaching useful lessons.

    Good job!

    1. The state is the biggest bully of them all.

      1. Exactly. Now it is time for these youngins to learn the value of doing things without a government.

  3. Whistle blowers are great! As long as it is going after right wing war-mongers and evil korporashuns!

    Seriously though, in terms of printing a high school newspaper, it is an interesting question. On a surface level, the school district owns the equipment, and just like the owners of the NY Times can choose to print, or not to print, whatever they like. However, in a public school, the district doesn’t really own the paper and equipment. They are a govt entity. And therefore the 1A
    should apply. But then should the school paper be able to print whatever the students want?

    Of course, the way to untie this Gordian knot is to get the govt out of the education business altogether. The school can create whatever rules it deems fit, and students and parents can choose what school they prefer.

    1. There is the example that the Black Panthers gave to the SDS in return for a free printing press. Not suggested in this case, since the Sheriff’s department might prove to be a tougher foe than a bunch of college dropout pussies.

      They would do better to get a matching set of blogger, video, and other social media accounts until the next rude knock on their door.

    2. Whistle blowers are great! As long as it is going after right wing war-mongers and evil korporashuns!

      Obama loves whistle blowers. That is why he has special parks all across the land where they can be kept and observed.

      1. It’s called ‘transparency.’

        1. I hear that they are watched around the clock, so nothing could be more transparent than that. At least we are assured they are being watched around the clock, since someone is always on the clock to watch them.

    3. The best way to untie this Gordian knot is to straight cut right through it – this is the 21st century, there’s no reason for a school newspaper to exist AT ALL.

      This isn’t 1915 where you needed a large capital investment to get started publishing. Just run an online blog where the startup cost is, literally, nothing. Run it like 90% of the other ‘news’ blogs – as an aggregator trawling other actual news sites coupled with freelance student submissions (for those who want to know ‘how journalism is done’ today).

      Then, if the school doesn’t like something there’s no need to scream about ‘freedom of expression’ – you just pop online and start your own competing student blog.

      And let a million flowers bloom.

      1. The state does not seem to like unregulated freedom. School boards tend to be that way and their members seem to be drawn from those who were educated in the ways of the state.

        1. The state does not seem to like unregulated freedom.

          From the point of view of the people who gravitate towards being a part of the state, freedom means asking them for permission and obeying their commands. This is why libertarians will never change anything. To change the power structure one must first become a part of it. However, those who lack the desire to control others tend not to seek positions of power. That is the great libertarian conundrum.

          1. Did the American revolutionaries become part of the King’s court before opting out of the monarchy?

            1. They didn’t change the power structure; they replaced it. Short of a full scale revolution, the power structure in this country isn’t changing any time soon. And I fear revolution because I believe what would replace our current government would not be at all libertarian. No, it would be the crusaders against liberty who would craft the new government. Liberty just isn’t in fashion anymore. Freedom has been perverted to mean slavery. People do not want the freedom to live life without asking permission and obeying orders. No, they want the opposite. The concept of justice has been perverted into injustice. People do not want to create wealth for themselves. No, they want the government to rob from the productive and give to the slothful. And to make matters worse they call it justice. I look around and do not see a country of people wanting liberty and justice for all. I see people who want to be told what to do, and who want to live off the labors of others. I see peasants who worship the state as a deity, whose only problem with it is that it doesn’t shower them with enough manna.

              The idea of government protecting individual liberty is, for all practical purposes, dead and gone.

              Like Bastiat said: “Government is the great fiction where everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.”

              The short American Experiment in liberty has failed. Humanity is returning to its default state of slavery.

              And tomorrow is Monday. Ugh.

              1. So they never joined the King’s court and attempted to create a new system based on liberty.

      2. if the school doesn’t like something

        …they’ll suspend you.

      3. Next, you’ll want to shut down the school buggy whip manufacturing program!

        1. +1 Other people’s money..

        2. That would be the death knell of shop class as we know it!

      4. ^ This. “The best way to untie this Gordian knot is to straight cut right through it – this is the 21st century, there’s no reason for a school newspaper to exist AT ALL.”

        “Then, if the school doesn’t like something there’s no need to scream about ‘freedom of expression’ – you just pop online and start your own competing student blog.”

        “And let a million flowers bloom.”

        1. Through technology everyone has their own printing press, and everyone is their own reporter.

  4. I would like to know what happened, but I refuse to watch useless video just to get there. Transcript or article, please.

    1. This one weird trick got them all Saturday detention.

    2. Opening scene:
      Ken White calling us assholes.

      1. He was calling *you* an asshole; not all of us.

        1. I’m an asshole with a heart of gold. It all balances out.

      2. If the popehat fits.

    3. Oh, and one of the students gets up in front of the school board and does a great job. He has a bright future ahead of him.

    4. “…Transcript or article, please.”

      1. Yeah, we all know what a HS & pimply teens look & sound like.

        Maybe Reason got a grant restricted to video prod’n. Let’s see…we can send someone to cover the flood or the fire…or…pocket the hazard pay while we shoot hallway shots & interviews.

        1. Maybe they gave the print version to VOX, or Mother Jones.

  5. And that’s how tenure works.

    You have 3 years to learn to toe the line and march in lockstep. Otherwise, you’re fucking fired.

  6. Heck, they should be shut down just for their name! “Killer”?

    1. Damn, it’s an entire school of killers!! How do guns & cigs get airbrushed out, and this just blatantly sticks out on the shingle? Probably because nobody knows enough Spanish.

  7. OT: Middle-class derp.

    Tsee Lee, in his mid-30s, doesn’t feel special. But the Manhattan public high school teacher, five years on the job, is the definition of middle class ? despite perceptions to the contrary. Earning about $54,000 annually and single, Lee frets about the high cost of living in New York City

    Gosh, living in NYC on Iowa’s idea of “middle-class” is hard!

    1. “Middle-class” and “single”

      does not compute

      1. Yea, writers keep substituting class for income. Class caries a lot more baggage that an average income does.

      2. I am single but I wouldn’t mind having another income around the house.

    2. “Analysts offer no single explanation for the decline of America’s middle class.”

      NAFTA was the start of this trend. It was obcious that opening the borders to captial, goods, and labor was going to disrupt the middle class of America and even out the standards of liiving where those borders were erased.

      In the long term all the benefits espoused by proponents of free trade exist but in the long term we are all dead.

      1. Yet no one has ever actually been able to quantify this “decline”. Everything I’ve seen about the “end of the middle class” has boiled down to overentitled attitudes.

        1. I do know that during high school summers and college I worked as a welder. I was a certified pipe welder who passed certain skill level tests before being hired for each construction job.

          I haven’t done that type of work for decades but the hourly rate isn’t much more now for the same basic skill levels.

          The mobile projects can be made wherever wages are cheaper than the US and millions of welders have been imported across the southern border.

          All of the bullshit you read about the illegal immigrants just doing the works Americans wont do is just that, bullshit.

          1. the hourly rate isn’t much more now

            I’ll take your word for it on that but… so what? The only question that matters is “are you better off now than before”? And I am not seeing any evidence that even the poorest Americans are not better off than ever.

        2. Brecause it isnt a decline. There are less middle class because they have moved to upper class.

  8. OT but worthwhile reading.

    Cops truely are criminals. why isn’t this entire dept. under RICO investigation ?

    They made millions laundering money and never opened an investigation of anyone or any organization. But they did keep their profits.


    1. I think I know the answer to your question…

    2. For two years starting in 2010, they funneled millions in drug money into the bank accounts of Venezuelans, including William Amaro Sanchez, now special assistant to President Nicol?s Maduro. The stated goal: to disrupt criminal groups.

      That’s all I needed to know..

      1. It’s curious to me how funneling millions into the accounts of people without inestigating those people is working to disrupt a criminal group.

        1. It was a cunning plan..

        2. Yeah, I read that article earlier. I could find no connection between the cops stated goals and their actual behavior.

          It looks to me like they just decided to become money launderers for Venezuelan drug dealers.

          1. Where have I heard this sort of operation before?

            For two years starting in 2010, they (The ATF) funneled millions in drug money into the bank accounts of Venezuelans, including William Amaro Sanchez, now special assistant to President Nicol?s Maduro guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The stated goal: to disrupt criminal groups.

            Ahhh.. yes, that..

            1. So in other words, FAIK SKANDUL.

    3. why isn’t this entire dept. under RICO investigation ?

      You see, if the public reads about bad cops getting away with criminal activity, then they’ll trust the government more than if the government roots out and punishes the criminals within their ranks. At least that’s what our rulers believe. Or maybe our rulers realize that if they imprisoned criminal cops, then there wouldn’t be any cops left.

  9. Morse v. Frederick showed when it comes to public education and free speech the Supreme Court still sucks ass.

  10. OT: Trollololo

    VA GOP May Strip McAuliffe Of His Protective Detail Over Concealed Carry

    We shall see if they have the balls to follow through with their bluster..

    1. It would be a beautiful spectacle to behold if they did, but who are we kidding. We are talking about the GOP having balls to pull that off. I will cross my fingers.

      It would be nice if the voters would fire that piece of shit.

    2. Didn’t Reason call McAullife’s election a Libertarian Moment?

  11. OT: This ought to stick in a few craws..

    1. Gotta love those asshole comments that are ignorant of history.

      1. For example. “What a shame ! Far more interesting in its original state !

        No it is not. It is a chunk of iron. Iron, rock, hydrogen, helium, carbon, even diamond is abundant in the Universe. The only chemical that is not abundant is Chlorophyll, and that’s because it’s only produced by living things.

        Fucking idiots.

        1. Perhaps @TOMOPIMIP will take solace in the possibility that the next large meteor to hit Earth will replenish the supply, and end more significant life than a gun..

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