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Free speech means free speech

Published: Thursday, March 9, 2006

Updated: Saturday, September 19, 2009 14:09

The First Amendment to the Constitution is arguably the most important. This amendment, packaged with the nine following it as the Bill of Rights, grants citizens the freedoms of press, speech, religion, peaceful assembly and a right to "petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Freedom of speech cases are often some of the most hotly contested in the country. Recently, a case involving a high school social studies teacher has been given national media attention.

The case involves Denver teacher Jay Bennish, who was put on paid leave from Overland High School after comparing President George W. Bush's State of the Union address to some of Adolph Hitler's speeches.

Defending the allegations, Bennish said, "My job as a social studies teacher is to argue alternative perspectives and viewpoints so that students are aware of those points of view. They are simply thrown out there to encourage critical thought."

We at the Parthenon agree with this sentiment. Whether Bush or Hitler's speeches and policies are similar is not the issue. The issue is American citizens having the right to voice their opinions. We, the politically mixed staff of the Parthenon (contrary to popular belief) always agree unanimously to an open dialogue. After all, it is the First Amendment that gives us the opportunity to print a newspaper four days a week to inform students, faculty, staff, alumni and anyone else who reads the Parthenon of campus events.

Free speech means free speech. One of the bedrocks of our democracy is the right of all citizens to say what they want. Similarly, the foundation of education is for students to be able to think critically about their fields of study. A high school teacher's job is to plant the seeds of critical thought. College is about honing in on that thought and figuring out a place in the world, with beliefs and philosophies in tow, and expanded as much as possible. How can a person pinpoint a set of ideals without trying on a few for size?

Like all presidents, Bush's policies and procedures are up for public debate. At least we hope so. It is up to the people to to challenge all parties' views to determine what is best for the country.

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