Don’t take away our voice

Whether in social media, print, or protest, your voice matters.

Jessica Adair

Whether in social media, print, or protest, your voice matters.

Jessica Adair, Staff Writer/Columnist

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” reads the First Amendment.

Five St. Louis Rams players walked out of their tunnel with both hands in the air, demonstrating the “don’t shoot” gesture on Nov. 30, according to CNN. In response, according to the local Missouri news station, KSDK, the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA) called the display “tasteless, offensive, and inflammatory” and argued that the Rams should “deliver a very public apology and be disciplined for their actions.”

Well, SLPOA, whether you like it or not, those Rams players were practicing their First Amendment right to free speech and they had every right to do so. With all this turmoil and unrest that’s happening in America right now, I believe the worst thing people can do is take away our voice. As a matter of fact, I think the worst thing a person can do, period, is take away somebody’s voice.

We use our voice as a way to cope with things we don’t understand, and we use our voice to start conversations  people are afraid of starting. Without that right, what do we have left?

As a journalist, I have been around censorship many times. Fortunately, I have not personally dealt with censorship within my publication or at my school, but I have encountered many other journalists who were not so lucky. A month ago, I met a yearbook adviser whose student was not allowed to publish a profile on an openly gay student in their annual yearbook. I also met a girl who was suspended from her editor-in-chief position because she refused to print the word ‘Redskins’ in her publication. Finally, I met Mary Beth Tinker, the catalyst for the famous Tinker v Des Moines case that defined the rights of U.S. students in public schools.

These remarkable individuals showed amazing courage in times of injustice, and I encourage other individuals who are experiencing censorship to do the same.  As for those who are trying to take that away from us, remember Voltaire’s words: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Whether it’s through social media, print, or protest, our voice matters.