The First Amendment in a digital age #UseYourOwnVoice

Saddleback College President, Tod Burnett, introducing the Associated Student Government and other affiliates to the stage for the #UseYourOwnVoice event in the quad. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

Saddleback College President, Tod Burnett, introducing the Associated Student Government and other affiliates to the stage for the #UseYourOwnVoice event in the quad. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

Saddleback College presents part one of a four part series called Understanding the First Amendment in the 21st Century or #UseYourOwnVoice yesterday Feb. 28, 2017 in the quad.

The main purpose of this event was to inform and educate students and faculty on how the application of the first amendment has changed since the onset of technology and social media. With the help of Associated Student Government, the Pre-Law Society, Academic Senate, Classified Senate, and Dr. Tod Burnett, Saddleback College president, a panel of students were given the chance to express any concerns, feelings, and questions they had to a panel of Saddleback College professors.

The panel of Saddleback College professors included  political science professors Kendralyn Webber and Christina Hinkle, mathematics professor Frank Gonzalez, and Journalism professor Mike Reed.

A Panel of Saddleback College students and professors take the stage to discuss applications of the first amendment in the digital age of technology. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

A Panel of Saddleback College students and professors take the stage to discuss applications of the first amendment in the digital age of technology. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

“In order to understand the first amendment,” said Mike Reed,  “we must first analyze the nine areas of unprotected speech that most people either forget or fail to realize exist.”

  • Obscenity- Quality or state of a work that taken whole appeals to an interest in sex by depicting sexual conduct in an offensive way and that lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
  • Defamation- Anything published or publicly spoken that causes injury to another’s good name, reputation, or character.
  • Expression intended and likely to incite imminent lawless action- Actions taken or words spoken that lead to violence and disruption.
  • Fighting words- Words that by their very nature inflict injury on those whom they addressed or incite them to various acts of violence.
  • Unwarranted invasions of privacy- a) public disclosure of private or embarrassing facts b) intrusion or improper gathering of facts and statistics c) false light or unflattering portrayal implying someone is something they’re not d) misappropriation or using someone’s photograph, voice, name or likeness to promote products or services.
  • Deceptive or misleading advertisements- Advertisements that mislead a reasonable consumer by misrepresenting or blatantly leaving out vital information.
  • Clear and immediate threats to national security- Disclosing important information and secrets that helps an enemy of the state.
  • Expression on school grounds that cause a material and substantial disruption of school activities- Speech that results in an immediate physical disruption of the school day or commission of unlawful acts.
  • Copyright violations- People cannot copy materials for unauthorized use except in a manner that the law allows it.
The student panel prepare to ask questions in regards to first amendment application in the digital age. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

The student panel prepare to ask questions in regards to first amendment application in the digital age. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

The digital age has given rise to many pressing questions when correlating them to first amendment freedoms. One main reason for this is the Supreme Court and its establishment in relation to freedoms of press and speech were created nearly 50 years ago.

They were created way before the implementation or creation for that matter, of the Internet, World Wide Web, and smartphones. The emergence of Google and other tech giants like Apple as well as social media platforms has propelled us into a new age of communication. This makes it hard for the present generation to establish grounds for proper first amendment rights seeing as many need revaluation or a complete overhaul.

“The role of the Supreme Court (which some regard as too slow) still works because it gives authority, the right to fundamentally break down protected speech and reflect on all of the consequences,” said Christina Hinkle, “It’s important for us to utilize the tools we have been given (Internet) to further educate people on these proceedings and make proper provisions.”

For many people the Internet has made it harder for interpersonal communication to take place. This is due in part because of the lack of education on the first amendment. Nowadays, many people assume news is genuine just from a glance or a gloss-over. These immediate reactions have made it possible for people to actually widen the gap and increase a polarization of opinions.

“Interpersonal relationships have become media popcorn for some people,” said Kendralyn Webber, “It’s almost as if it’s not about you know but what you google.”

In too many ways this has become the normal way of projecting facts, opinions, and information. Although we may be in a confusing place as far as communication goes, having events in the community like #UseYourOwnVoice on college campuses helps to bridge the unknown and further educate people on our unalienable rights.

For more information, visit Saddleback College’s upcoming events and learn more about the #UseYourOwnVoice series.

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