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WWL: Free Speech and the Internet
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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How far should First Amendment protections extend into cyberspace?


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49:02 minutes (23.54 MB)
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How far should First Amendment protections extend into cyberspace – where content can be posted anonymously, and can remain published and searchable, pretty much forever? We'll look at efforts to protect free speech and the legal questions that arise when an "anything goes" policy on the internet meets real life people with real reputations. Senator Gary LeBeau joins us to talk about legislation he’s proposed. WNPR’s Diane Orson guest hosts.

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Student's case

As a parent 2 distinct issues are at hand here in this case (apart from the greater issue of free speech.)  The student is to be commended for her efforts to use her civic rights to protest a perceived wrong.  In a nation inundated by apathy this is a trait to be encouraged and nourished not punished.  However the language and tenor of the message were inappropriate and  this is the issue that should be addressed. This incident should be used as means to educate our youth (and their tendency to knee-jerk emotional responses as is often inherent in the age group) in calm, rational language of protest that opens doors to debate and discussion.  Insults slam all doors shut.  Punishment is justified but seems more appropriately designated by her parents.  The loss of her elected office is unjust though the school officials deserve an apology for the language used.

As for free speech on the Internet the task of monitoring such a massive space seem impossible.  However the same laws should apply in all realms of communication. 

Facebook comment from Dan

"Free speech offline has limits, why shouldn't free speech online?  We cannot yell fire in a crowded theater, nor can we threaten someone else with bodily harm and then take cover behind the protection of free speech.  Why shouldn't there be similar protections online?"

Protecting Speech From Punishment By Tyrants

Free Speech Must Be Protected From Punishment By Incompetent Goons
In The Doninger Case, Student Was Punished
For Seeking Redresss Of Grievances
After Postponements, Cancellation
Of Popular Music Festival

In U.S. District Court, New Haven,
For Suppression & Seizure Of Free Speech T-Shirts