This I Believe

Gage - auburn, Washington
Entered on December 4, 2007

You always see people on the news “expressing their freedom.” But a lot of the time, people get in trouble for it, have to pay fines, or even jail time. Our rights are a big part of our life, but if we get in trouble for using them, what’s the point? So I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

I believe that we have the right so say whatever we need to say. Unless of course, like the constitution says, it creates a “breach in peace.” When I say, freedom of speech, I don’t mean freedom to do or say what ever you want. Racism and violent protesting are one of those bad things. I mean, I think those anti-war protesters just need to get a life and go home. But that’s their choice, and their freedom. But you see how many of those protests quickly turn into riots, a breach of peace. This breaks the rules of the constitution. These sort of things can be avoided, but as long as people are expressing themselves, it will still happen.

Kids, mainly, are the ones who are learning about their rights and how they can express them. In history class, we they learn about riots and protests and war and all this stuff that we have feelings about. And I believe, expressing yourself can mean a lot of things. Even little things, like the kind of music you listen to, the clothes you wear, and things like that. I don’t think that schools should take that away from kids. All schools do now is “teach” kids and tell them what not to do. Like, “Don’t listen to your music in class, don’t wear your hat,” and “don’t wear your hood.” All this is doing is making school worse for kids and gives them MORE reasons to not go. All they want to do is be themselves and learn. And if a hat wearing hoodlum who listens to his Ipod during class can get good grades, and get out of high school, why not let him? I think schools are over using their power and taking away students rights that they were given by the framers.

I understand that talking can “disrupt” a class, but it’s still a thing that everyone needs to do, especially to get them through the school day. Not only do we have a right to free speech, but we should have a right to speech too. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told to stop talking in school. And I think it’s ridiculous. Especially when the whole class isn’t doing anything anyway, and talking won’t hurt or disrupt anyone. My hat is another thing that is kind of annoying, for me. It’s a hat, not a gun, or a crippin, blood, gangsta rag. A hat. When has a hat ever hurt someone? A hat isn’t going to affect my way of learning or my ability to do so. But if I say, “I’m expressing my religion,” I would get in trouble. Some people wear turbans, and do rag things, which are expressing their religion, and there’s no problem. I’ve got my hat taken away probably 5 times this year already, and them? None. I think if there’s going to be a “hat” rule enforced; it should be all or none. If they can wear head coverings to “express” themselves, so can I. And if I can’t, neither can them.

Slowly, and slowly, all of our rights are being nickel, dime’d and picked away from us. And it’s all little things. So I think, we need to look at our amendments and our constitution, and figure out what’s right and what’s wrong. Our expression of freedom is turning into our expression of the freedom that we don’t have, if were getting in trouble for it. I believe teachers should be more worried about drugs and violence than whether a kid is wearing a hat and listening to music or not. Their job is to teach us, not baby-sit. And if we feel the need to express our freedoms while we’re being baby-sat, then so be it.