Monthly Archives: November 2016

Inhumane or Exaggerated?

People all around the world have different interests and criminal activity seems to be one of the top ones that we all shared. Movies, books, radio segments, and even just magazine or news articles about crime snatch our attention. With this being said it is no wonder why criminals are becoming rich off of the story put out describing their wrongdoing and that is where this story starts.

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David Berkowitz injured a total of seven people and killed six people in 1977. Not soon after Berkowitz was arrested people started to throw around rumors saying that his whole life story was going to be presented. This rumor made a lot of people mad because they did not want this monster to get rich off of the murder of their loved ones. The members of the New York legislature apparently felt the exact same way because they set up a law that would make it so that the criminal did not get large sums of money for cruely killing people and sharing the gruesome story with the world. With this law the money would help the victims in their time of need instead of rewarding the criminal.

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To learn more click here to watch a documentary on David Berkowitz.

The first thing that has changed with time is the fact that different channels would be used if this was in recent times. Instead of using things such as tape recorders or phonographs television and internet would be more heavily utilized. Also now it is seen as against public policy to holds ones money. There may be a limit to the amount they can receive but you can not hold all of their money away from the criminal.

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Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education, 827 F.2d 1058 (6th Cir. 1987)

Growing up in San Diego, Ca, I was brought up in a private catholic school education.  It had occurred to me that certain textbooks were chosen for our specific religion. This case that I have chosen relates back to me in the sense that we were accommodated books that would fit our religion. This is not the situation for public school education which can cause an uproar in society if not looked at.

According to ncac.org, it is plain and simple that accommodations to religion are something the government can not respectively make due to the freedom of speech. Although it is the goal to respect everyone and their religion, I personally do not think that it is capable possible to do so with a public education. No matter the circumstances, there is always going to be different people of all sorts of religion in every school. We are a country of diversity that have adapted to religions over the years. The fact that textbooks regarding religions have impacted this society is sad. I truly believe that this specific case will occur for years to come but will not have a different outcome. We must look past the text and realize what is truly important such as our religion. Nobody but ourselves can see that nothing can get in the way of our religion.

Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District

In the case of Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District the Supreme Court overturned previous lower court rulings that upheld the school districts refusal to allow the church use of its rooms after hours on the basis of the viewpoint of the subject matter being religiously oriented. Schools have permission to grant access to their grounds after-hours for different uses, but not for religious purposes. Some of these uses were “social, civic, and recreational use.” The church requested the use of a classroom for a film series about child-rearing and family values from a religious viewpoint. The request was denied twice because the viewpoint was church oriented. After two lower courts upheld the schools decision to deny access the Supreme Court overturned the rulings on the basis of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The opinions of the supreme court justices are summed up in this, that the school district did not have the ability to refuse the use of its’ rooms for the topic or childrearing and family values because the viewpoint was religiously based.

Previously similar cases have had what has been called the “lemon test” which came to be after the case Lemon v. Kurtzman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman). This rule has been used and forgotten many times, as justice Scalia stated in the current case of Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District,  “It is there to scare us (and our audience) when we wish it to do so, but we can command it to return to the tomb at will.” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/508/384) justice Scalia also stated “Such a docile and useful monster is worth keeping around, at least in a somnolent state; one never knows when one might need him.”

I believe this case and those like it are still relevant today when talking about almost anything. People dislike talking about subjects from certain viewpoints, but when discrimination happens because of where a certain persons, or groups, viewpoint comes from that goes against our rights to free speech. No matter the viewpoint someone is going to get upset, we believe that a different view has to be wrong, instead of gathering multiple views and incorporating the ideas into our own.

The Problem With Free Speech

Almost everyone agrees, free speech is a great thing. However people start to agree less when they are surrounded by people who have different opinions. Free speech is an important right that must be continuously fought for regardless of the speakers views. As America is showing increasing support for the republican party I can feel myself becoming fed up. But, just because I don’t agree with the policies of the political party currently on top doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to say it. Once any group is refused their rights it becomes a slippery slope until they all do.

This is the case of CWA, Inc. vs Lafayette County. Concerned Women for America (CWA) was a religious group that tried to use an auditorium space in Lafayette for a group meeting. However, the CWA was refused the auditorium stating that the space was not available for “social, political, partisan or religious purposes”, but because this auditorium was in a public library the supreme court ruled that it could not discriminate by religion. I can appreciate the want for a political free environment but it is not up to the government to decide where that should be regardless of my personal feelings.

This case may not of had a lot of influence on the country but I think it serves as a good reminder especially for liberal youth who have spent the majority of their life under president Obama. Even opinions we don’t agree with deserve to be heard.

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

The case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, according to ALA.org,  dealt with the First Amendment rights of students where students, John F. Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt, and Mary Beth Tinker, were expelled after they wore black armbands to school in symbolic protest of the Vietnam War, the Supreme Court held that students “do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate” and that the First Amendment protects public school students’ rights to express political and social views. This caught my attention because I’ve been involved with several student protest throughout my years in school as well as it’s relevance today.  Throughout the nation, student-athletes have taken the actions of Colin Kaepernick, and several other professional athletes, to their school’s sports program by kneeling during the National Anthem. Although the views of the students participating in the protest may not have reflected their schools view, they still have a constitutional right to participate thanks to Tinker v. Des Moines.

Another example of protests in schools are most recent because of the election and our new president elect, Donald Trump. At West High, just an hour and a half away in Iowa City, several student staged a sit-in against discrimination and hate after the presidential election.  This sit in was sparked because of racist comments made during the week of the election toward, Lujayn Hamad, and American citizen and student that wears a hijab. These protests in schools have spread across the nation as students set up walkouts because of racist comments that some students think are ok to say because of our president elect. Back home, in San Bruno,California, my junior college staged a walkout where most of the school walked out of their classes to congregate and protest the election on the soccer field.

The Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines has paved the way for school protest across the entire nation. Without this case ruling students right to free speech and to protest that is protected by the First Amendment, would have been taken away as soon as the set foot on campus.  This case has had a huge impact on my generation considering everything that has happened these past couple of years. Without it, our right to speak out against something we don’t believe in would’ve been wrongly stollen from myself, and the students of my generation.

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

“Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503, 89 S.Ct. 733, 21 L.Ed.2d. 731 (1969): In this seminal case considering the First Amendment rights of students (John F. Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt, and Mary Beth Tinker) who were expelled after they wore black armbands to school in symbolic protest of the Vietnam War, the Supreme Court held that students “do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate” and that the First Amendment protects public school students’ rights to express political and social views.”- (ALA.org)

I found this case very interesting because I feel that in today’s day and age we often take for granted or muffle the voices of our youth. Suppressing their voices while at the same time trying to teach them that every person has the right to say or believe whatever they want. In this case the students were protesting the war, which is protected by the amendments of the united states, however  they were expelled from school. A result that often only comes as a last measure in a school system. Not only removing the children from school, which is supposed to be a place of thought and higher learning, but removing their rights.

This case also hit home for me because my high school has recently dealt with a situation very similar to this. Being from California, most of the people that compromise our cities and communities are liberal for the most part. Primarily POC and minorities. In the wake of the recent election there has been much unrest in my home state and my hometown. Just days after the election student in my high school assembled an Anti-Trump protest within the school. The movement grew in numbers and worked its way off campus. The principal took the initiative to join the group along with other staff in order to maintain aid and protection for the students. However, when word got to the school board the principal was terminated from his position. He was fired because, “He promoted hate and violence not only towards our president elect but our entire government”.

So I leave you with this question, according the case previously stated, Should the principal have been fired? Should he have stopped the protest much like the Tinker case? Or

Campbell v. St. Tammany Parish School Board

The case that I chose to write is started when public school district in Louisiana removed a book from their school library. The Book was Voodoo and Hoodoo By Jim Haskins, which discusses the origins and practices of the Voodoo and Hoodoo religions. The reason this topic is still relevant due to the amount of ideas children can be exposed to when they are at school. The topic of what kids should have access to is an argument that dates back to the invention of parenting. First, some background on the case about the access to information and exposure to new beliefs.

We start our story in 1992, when Kathy Bonds, a parent of a seventh who was attend St. Tammany Parish’s Public School. found a copy of Voodoo and Hoodoo in her daughter’s bag. After reading the contents of the book, Bonds filed multiple complaints and got the book pulled from all the schools in the area. This caused some outrage through the community, and some parents sued and managed to get a full trial. The court ruled in favor of the book , bringing up the fact that the board members did not personally read the book, and the fact that the schools already had it on their shelves. Even though the school board had not intention of violating the student’s first amendment rights. The parties settled out of court and the book was reinstated on reserved shelves in the library.

In modern culture, a lot of of of high school and college kids have access to any piece of information possible. Some of which the older generations argue that we don’t need to see some pieces of information. I think if we could find a balance, like reserving some sites and books for a more mature person. While still keeping information available so young people can discover their own ideas. As long as we still argue about what is culturally appropriate though, cases like this will still be relevant for multiple generations.

Wooley Vs. Maynard

In 1969 New Hampshire made a state law that all non-commercial vehicles must have a license plate with their state’s motto on it “Live Free or Die”. This motto is just a representation of history, and it was not thought of as a hurtful item until George Maynard would step in, and share his thoughts with the court.  The law stated that if you tampered with the license plate by covering letters up or the figures on your plate you would be convicted of a crime. In 1969 these “letters” were expanded on to include the motto of New Hampshire after the case of the State vs. Hoskin. This new law would stay in place until Mr. Maynard would eventually test the boundaries of this law, and his own free speech in the mid to late 1970’s.

The issue of the license plate offended George and his wife who were avid Jehovah witnesses and believed the motto violated their moral and political beliefs also. They believed that their “government” was Jehovah’s kingdom, which granted everlasting life not death as the motto says.  Their political standpoint was like their religious reasoning because they believed “life was more precious than freedom.” So, because of this law in November of 1974 George would tamper with his license plate, and cover up the word “or Die” signifying he did not believe in the state motto. He would later be written up as a citation for violating the state law of covering up the license plate. This would fuel George to take the case to court, and share his opinions on the matter.

In December of 1974 George would appear in court at the Lebanon District Court to plead his case of not being guilty. He would go on to talk about how this motto violated his political and religious beliefs while affecting his morals also. The court would let him go on a $25 charge because he was still breaking the law made by State vs Hoskin, but he was let off for “good behavior”. That wouldn’t stop Maynard, though later that month he would be charged with the same violation, and he would eventually go to court again on the issue in January of 1975. With no lawyer like the last time, Maynard would be found guilty and sentenced to 6 months in a county house of correction and a $50 dollar fine. Instead of making Maynard go through that the court waived the 6 months in the correction house if he paid both his fines. Maynard refused to pay the fines determined to show the courts how the law affects the first amendment. Since the fines would not be paid the court sentenced him to 15 days in prison, which Maynard would serve. Maynard got a third conviction on the issue before he went to court the second time, but the fine was waived by the 15 days he was in prison.

After George was released from jail, he would go on to sue the District Court of New Hampshire over the matter. 7 days later the courts would issue a restraining order against the arrests of the Maynards. The mayor of New Hampshire would then choose to appeal to the U.S Supreme Court, which they accepted to hear the case. The Supreme would repeal the law to require that the state motto be on the license plates of vehicles in a 6 to 3 decision. Taking it from a viewpoint of why it was being tested the Supreme Court favored in getting rid of the law because of in some ways it does and can offend people.

I think this court case is unique because of how tiny the subject matter is, and how determined George was to get rid of this law. I understand why he wanted it repealed, but to go to the measures he did to get it that way was drastic. I can’t think of any court cases today, but anything that tests the boundaries of political beliefs or religion can relate to this because that was what the whole argument was based on. With the election, over and the protests that have been taking place could be compared to this. Also, anything that is said about religion is testing boundaries today because of how easily people can get offended by it. I think this case isn’t that big of a deal to the first amendment, but it shows how people can fight it, and relates to today by the issues that it was built by.

Video Games: Threat or Leisure?

According to the Supreme Court Case of “American Amusement Machine Association, et al., v. Teri Kendrick, et al., 244 F.3d 954 (7th Cir. 2001)” the city of Indianapolis required that video game arcade owners limit access to games that depicted certain activities including amputation, decapitation, dismemberment, bloodshed or sexual intercourse. Only with the permission of an accompanying parent or guardian could children below seventeen years old play these types of video games. I personally think that this case is tremendously relevant today due to the fact that now, more than ever, children are playing video games at a very big rate and for a tremendous part of their days. With the increase in technological innovations and creations, video games and virtual leisure has been an even bigger part of peoples lives, especially children. Years, maybe a decade, ago children would be reading books and playing outdoors with their friends but at a very increasing rate, children’s customs have been changing together with technology. Nowadays, the younger population is getting involved and being part of the video game community at a younger age and it is increasing at a very fast rate. With every year that passes you see even younger children than the previous generations buying electronic devices and video games at a bigger rate and percentage.

 

Although states all over the world, including the one we see in the case above, are trying to limit and control the access children have to video games, I fear that this is not the right path to take when regarding children and video games. However, the state thinks its their own personal bourdon to carry whether or not children access this type of information or so called leisure. I truly think it should come from the parent’s point of view, whether or not their child or children have the right or should be given the possibility to access and buy these types of video games. We have been living in a world of technology and digital innovations, in which more and more the population is being able to access information in many different ways whether or not it is controlled. In my sincere opinion, children will always be able to access the content whether or not it is limited to their age or not. What the government is doing is turning their youth into criminals and denying them the opportunity to know and see for themselves what the world throws their way.

 

I could not agree more with creators and companies that produce video games with more serious and “adult content” when they clarify and specify that the certain product is for and older public or maybe has content that would not be very appropriate for a younger public, but that is not up to the government to decide. Whether or not a certain person or so called “child” is allowed to access that type of content, that should be up to the people that understand and know how that certain person is and acts. If a seventeen-year-old or even sixteen year old wanted a video game that the government or the company advises against, it should be up to the parents of such kid to decide whether or not they could have the mentality or maturity to access it.

 

What better example to give to you than myself. When I was sixteen years old, I really wanted to buy a GTA (Grand Theft Auto) Video game for my brand new PlayStation. I asked my dad if he could by me the game because I was young and still didn’t have enough pocket money for the purchase. My dad said it would be possible for him to buy it, or give me the money to do so because he was working and too busy to personally go out and buy it. So I went to the store myself and tried purchasing the video game. As soon as I got to the counter, the lady would not allow me to buy the game by myself so I had to go home and tell my dad the story and he bought it for me the next day. Many would argue that what my dad did was not appropriate, but, honestly, my dad knew exactly how I was and he knew that this game would not make me more violent or give me and incentive to commit crimes.

 

The laws towards certain limits on whether video games are accessible or not have proven to by flawed and it does not prevent children from accessing that content. The warning and specifications expressing the contents of the product (showing whether or not it has more serious content) is completely understandable, but the prohibition is a step too far and too harsh. I totally agree with the warning on products but the laws shouldn’t be so strict and should not make our younger population into criminals when buying or find a way to buy prohibited content for minors.