Wednesday, September 19, 2012

03.02 First Amendment Freedoms- Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

The May 13, 1983 issue proofs of The Hazelwood High Times, delivered to Principal Reynolds contained stories about teenage pregnancy and divorce. Reynolds was concerned that, though some of the students had been assigned pseudonyms (fake names), it might be possible to guess their identities. One divorce story used the real name of a student. Principle Reynolds was concerned that younger students may not be old enough for the content of the articles. Reynolds decided there was not enough time to change the articles, so he eliminated those stories, rather than delay or cancel the issue completely. Cathy Kuhlmeier and two of her fellow students then brought their school to court, claiming that the school went against the First Amendment's freedom of speech and press, and that their principal did not have the right to censor their articles (

The Courts ruled against Kuhlmeier and in favor of Hazelwood. The verdict was Hazelwood 5, Kuhlmeier 3. ( Since the newspaper and the student writers were under the law and jurisdiction of the Hazelwood school, the same rules that applied to press outside of schools were not for High school papers; Therefore, it was not in violation of the first amendment and Principal Reynolds was in fact in the right for pulling those articles out of the schools paper. A similar case like this happened a few years later. (Dean v. Utica)

I find this case significant because it shows you the somewhat "loopholes" in the government, and its Laws. I find it interesting that different amendments and laws can be bent to justify different scenarios. If what was originally printed by Kuhlmeier and her peers was printed in a public paper then it would've been perfectly acceptable. I also find it interesting that the newspaper was apart of the curriculum in the journalism program at Hazelwood High School, and they still weren't allowed to exercise the rights they'd been learning about that year, "Freedom of Speech," and "Freedom of the Press."

 I believe the outcome should have been the other way around because the students were taught real life things in journalism and they were just trying to voice and show that. I feel that the rules that were mandated over 200 years by our founding fathers were not meant to be bent, unless for obvious moral reasons. Otherwise, they should mean exactly what they say. The journalism students of Hazelwood High School should have been able to exercise their "Freedom of Speech" and state whatever they wanted in the paper.

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