Tyler Chase Harper and his offensive T-Shirt…

The freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. The court has expanded this concept far beyond ordinary verbal communication. Protected expression now includes such non-verbal expression as wearing a symbol on one’s clothing…

This is the case of Tyler Chase Harper. In 2004, he wore a t-shirt which said: «Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned» on the front and «Homosexuality is shameful» on the back. The school principal told Harper he couldn’t wear this t-shirt to school. Harper sued the school with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund (a christian organization). He used religion as an excuse. His religion considers homosexuality as «shameful». Does he have the right to wear hateful t-shirt to school?

To my mind, the first reaction of the school was right. A student shouldn’t be allowed to wear offensive t-shirt in college or in high school. The language on his t-shirt was just offensive, it was a provocation and more over, he wore it during the «Day of Silence», a symbolic day for the gay community to protest against the harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Wearing a t-shirt like that on this day reinforce the fact that Chase wanted to shock and create a movement of violence within the school. If I was a part of the school community, I would have warned Chase Harper not to wear an offensive t-shirt like this one but I would have fired him if he would show any protestations.

His case shoudn’t be protected by the First Amendment because his statement harms the reputation of the gay community. Words can definitely hurt and the Court recognizes it and calls it: Defamation.The US Supreme Court held that the First Amendment does not protect «fighting words-those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace». I think the needs of the school to keep all their students safe are more important than Chase’s right to express his religious beliefs condemning homosexuality.


1 Response to “Tyler Chase Harper and his offensive T-Shirt…”

  1. 1 professor Dunphy
    May 17, 2010 at 4:02 am

    A good thought about the first amendment… it’s a difficult one… that much is for sure.

    Overall, I liked your style within the blog… i enjoyed reading it and got to know you a little bit.

    You don’t like depressing shows… and you hid this from your friends… or maybe I misunderstood it.

    Overall, my only critique would be… more personal reactions and less summary… use your own feelings, experiences in this to discuss the show.

    Charles has your grade so please email him.

    Pleasure having you in the class.

    All the best,

    Prof. Dunphy

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