The First Amendment must be upheld


The Packer Staff

       It is no secret that media in general has earned a bad name as of late. Local and national news sources seem incapable of avoiding bias. The truth has become increasingly difficult to find amongst a swarm of fake news and alternative facts.

       Among this slew of confusion, doubt and distrust, the Packer  would like to take a moment to establish our goals and mission.

       As a staff, the Packer works to keep the students and staff of West Fargo High School well informed. One of our main goals is to tell the stories of students and to give a voice to those who might otherwise remain silent.

       As a publication, we strongly believe in the importance of truthful media.

       The Packer staff strongly believes that the information we present speaks for itself. We know it is not our place to tell our readers how to react to this information or what to do with it.

       This being said, we also believe in the importance of the First Amendment. A democracy that does not allow for freedom of speech cannot truly be considered a democracy at all.

       Freedom of speech and freedom of press have helped lay the foundation of this country. Now, at a time when it is so crucial to stay informed, the First Amendment has never been more imperative. Not simply to protect protesters and supporters alike, but for the sake of students who are still learning about the world around them.

       In 1969, 13 year old Mary Beth Tinker, along with her siblings and classmates, wore a black armband to school in protest of the Vietnam War. The school board deemed this inappropriate, and many of the students were suspended. The Tinker family fought back, and ended up going to the Supreme Court.

       Ultimately, the court ruled in Tinker’s favor and a new precedent was set that students did not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

       In the winter of 2015, several staff members of the Packer met Mary Beth Tinker when the state of North Dakota adopted the John Wall New Voices Act, granting student journalists their First Amendment rights.

       However, the importance of freedom of speech affects more than just protesters and press.

       When people in a position of authority are able to censor  those below them, it teaches the youth of this country that the only way to gain and maintain success is to silence opponents.

       As a nation, we are better than this. We can do better, we can be better.

       A country where information is filtered and freedom of speech is redefined to freedom of flattering speech is a dangerous place to live. The only way to avoid such a perilous mentality is transparency. Transparency in the media, transparency in politics and transparency with one another.