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Looking into the FIRE: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

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The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is an organization dedicated to defending student and faculty freedom of speech rights on college campuses in the United States. Their work has brought national attention and debate around how unbiased the

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is an organization dedicated to defending student and faculty freedom of speech rights on college campuses in the United States. Their work has brought national attention and debate around how unbiased the foundation truly is. This thesis discusses the relevant cases around the freedom of speech such as United States v. O'Brien and Matal v. Tam in order to develop an understanding of general free speech protection. Free speech cases specifically regarding school campuses were analyzed such as Tinker v. Des Moines, Bethel v. Fraser, and Rosenberger v. University of Virginia to show the limitations of what FIRE can fight on campuses. FIRE's case selection methods were analyzed, and a bias toward conservative cases was found. This bias is disputed by FIRE supporters as natural given the liberal nature of higher education, but data surrounding professors, disinvitation attempts, and student opinions invalidate these claims. Three FIRE cases (Roberts v. Haragan, Smith v. Tarrant County College District, and the Dixie State Incident) were analyzed to show the progression and style of the foundation through the years and how they developed their aggressive and bully reputation. Finally, current large incidents of free speech oppression were analyzed to understand how they skew and affect public perception of the overall struggle for freedom of speech on college campuses. This thesis found that FIRE is in fact biased and that their efforts to make positive change are undermined by this. Keywords: FIRE, free speech, First Amendment

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2018-12

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The Campus Carry Controversy at University of Texas Austin: an American Debate

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An in depth look at the rhetoric behind the campus carry debate at the University of Texas at Austin. This thesis researched and examined primary sources from The Daily Texan and The Austin-American Statesman attempting to analyze what was at

An in depth look at the rhetoric behind the campus carry debate at the University of Texas at Austin. This thesis researched and examined primary sources from The Daily Texan and The Austin-American Statesman attempting to analyze what was at stake for both sides of the argument and what the most effective rhetorical tool was.

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2021-05

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The Online Misinformation Dilemma: "The Remedy To Be Applied Is More Speech"

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Americans today face an age of information overload. With the evolution of Media 3.0, the internet, and the rise of Media 3.5—i.e., social media—relatively new communication technologies present pressing challenges for the First Amendment in American society. Twentieth century law

Americans today face an age of information overload. With the evolution of Media 3.0, the internet, and the rise of Media 3.5—i.e., social media—relatively new communication technologies present pressing challenges for the First Amendment in American society. Twentieth century law defined freedom of expression, but in an information-limited world. By contrast, the twenty-first century is seeing the emergence of a world that is overloaded with information, largely shaped by an “unintentional press”—social media. Americans today rely on just a small concentration of private technology powerhouses exercising both economic and social influence over American society. This raises questions about censorship, access, and misinformation. While the First Amendment protects speech from government censorship only, First Amendment ideology is largely ingrained across American culture, including on social media. Technological advances arguably have made entry into the marketplace of ideas—a fundamental First Amendment doctrine—more accessible, but also more problematic for the average American, increasing his/her potential exposure to misinformation. <br/><br/>This thesis uses political and judicial frameworks to evaluate modern misinformation trends, social media platforms and current misinformation efforts, against the background of two misinformation accelerants in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and U.S. presidential election. Throughout history, times of hardship and intense fear have contributed to the shaping of First Amendment jurisprudence. Thus, this thesis looks at how fear can intensify the spread of misinformation and influence free speech values. Extensive research was conducted to provide the historical context behind relevant modern literature. This thesis then concludes with three solutions to misinformation that are supported by critical American free speech theory.

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2021-05