Gov. Bobby Jindal is correct in his support for teachers’ criticism of Common Core, and he is right to support the First Amendment rights of government employees. The right to engage in public comment on matters of public concern is fundamental to a free democracy.
Just this year, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that individuals do not surrender their First Amendment rights by accepting public employment. Everyone, regardless of where they work, has the right to engage in open discussion about matters of concern.
Facebook and other forms of social media are simply modern vehicles for expressing opinions. They are, in a sense, the contemporary version of billboards and leaflets. Social media is an effective way to get a message out, which is why it is so heavily used.
In a country that supports the right of free speech, we cannot tolerate restrictions on a medium that is a free, popular and effective method of delivering a message.
Respect for the law means respecting the right of dissent. Teachers, charged with educating our young people about the history and founding principles of our country, deserve to have their free speech rights protected.
After all, we cannot expect them to instill in their students the proper respect for the rights and freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights if their own rights are suppressed. Teaching by example means that students must see government criticism and healthy debate, and know that their voices are protected by our constitution.
The right to criticize the government is what separates the United States from totalitarian nations where dissent is suppressed. Forcing any public employee to censor their speech violates our constitution and is, quite simply, a suppression of freedom.
Thanks to Gov. Jindal for recognizing the importance of social media in preserving our First Amendment.
executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana