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A Lesson on Free Speech

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An editorial titled A Lesson in Free Speech (our title) that appeared in the June 21, 2006 edition of The Augusta Chronicle discussed the situation the nation is facing with regards to the First Amendment. A graduating senior, Brittany McComb, at Foothill High was speaking about the influence of God in her life when her microphone was unexpectedly shut off by administration. While being criticized by the guests of the celebration, the admin stated that it is the policy of the district to promote a "genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria."

By appealing to the audience through emotions, the unknown author is voicing his or her own opinion about the situation. Since the editorial reaches and applies to a very general public, the author's attempt to generate an impression that organizations such as this administration are "misguiding" the rights granted by the First Amendment, the perspective is hence creating a negative image of the school's administration and those who support claims similar nationwide. Criticizing the actions of the administration by discussing the effect of said procedures is yet another way the author appeals to the addressees. They have misinterpreted the First Amendment by stating that McComb's expressions were "establishing religion" when she was, in fact, speaking freely and practicing religion which are protected by the First Amendment. By silencing one young woman from giving thanks where she deems appropriate, they are discouraging an expression of faith in other realms of society. Through use of definition he or she attacks the administration's use and comprehension of the First Amendment citing that they have, "perverted the meaning" and states that the American Civil Liberties Union believes that it protects "freedom from religion." The Associated Press was also cited as saying that, in fact, the districts policy does not exclude religious expression. According to those present and herself, McComb was within the rights guaranteed by our constitution and "has a better grasp of the situation than the adults around her."

With regards to America's efforts to encourage freedom of speech, the restriction of one young woman's discourse with mentions of religion seems contradictory to the nation's attempts at strengthening our constitutional rights. This bares many similarities to college campus's struggle to



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