Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Limits of Censorship

Nebraska schools had better watch their step(s). The ACLU has sent letters to all public schools warning them that they had better not invite in any speakers whose message or organization might be related to religion. The justification, of course, is the so-called separation of church and state. That metaphor is supposed to represent the First Amendment's religion clauses, but is woefully inadequate to do so and is even misleading if used alone.

Forgetting for a moment that the part of the the First Amendment referenced is about prohibiting lawmakers from making laws establishing an official religion, what about the concept of inviting speakers of all types except one?

What if you wish to have a speaker addressing programs to fight alcohol addiction? You would be afraid to invite someone from AA because part of their method is religious faith. But you could invite someone who recommends non-standard or unproven methods that were not related to religion, and that would be OK. Would balancing speakers in this way make an impression on the students? Would a reasonable person assume that if certain groups are not allowed to speak at a public school assembly, then they must not be mainstream or simply are not worthy of such discussion?

I'm not objecting to schools not inviting charismatic preachers to speak about his/her faith. My personal view is that such a speaker is not unconstitutional, but I wouldn't endorse the choice for reasons unrelated to the Constitution.

Read more on the Nebraska story below:


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