Where do one person's rights stop and another person's begin?
I am currently taking Media Law as part of my Communications degree(last semester before I graduate woo hoo!) Part of our readings and films have been largely based on First Amendment rights and landmark cases that have gotten us to where we are today.
The case of Chase Harper stood out at me...With sharply divided opinions among its three judges, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling striking down a California student's right to wear a t-shirt opposing homosexuality.
In April 2004, Tyler Chase Harper, a student at Poway High School near San Diego, Calif., wore shirts to school on two days bearing separate messages: "I will not accept what God has condemned" and "Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned." On the back of the shirts were handwritten: "Homosexuality is shameful, 'Romans 1:27.'"
On the second day, school administration requested Harper change his shirt. The student refused. Consequently, Harper spent the rest of the day in the school's front office versus being suspended as the student requested.
Harper, through his parents, filed a lawsuit on June 2, 2004 against Poway Unified School District and specific school officials, alleging a breach of his right to free speech, free exercise of religion, the Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Due Process Clause. On July 12, 2004, Harper filed a preliminary injunction against the school to stop the "continuing violation" of his constitutional rights.
In his dissenting opinion against the majority decision, Judge Alexander Kozinski drew attention to the fact that the student "did not thrust his view of homosexuality into the school environment as a part of a campaign to demean or embarrass other students. Rather, he was responding to public statements made by others with whom he disagreed."
My question is... Does Chase Harper have the right to wear this shirt? One Attorney in the film Shouting Fire:Stories from the Edge of Free Speech made a comment that keeps turning over in my mind... "We as a people are guaranteed the right to free speech. We are not however promised the right to not be offended."
What do you think?