Letters to the editor

Ed Board failed to prove clear and present danger in supposed violations

Dear Editor:

I just could not sit back and let a terrible interpretation of the First Amendment go without correcting it. As a current Constitutional Law: Civil Rights student, it would be wrong for me to not offer some clarification on the issue.

The board’s first claim is that people were “forced to stare” at the images while stuck in traffic. First of all, the images were on the sides of the buses. Therefore, if people were stuck in traffic behind a bus, there is no way they could see the image even if they wanted to. Secondly, even if one was stuck in traffic and a bus was stopped next to them, I do not comprehend how they are “forced to stare at it.” Shouldn’t one’s eyes be looking forward while driving?

The board argues secondly that “many of the people subjected to the viewing of the photos were not of voting age.” So let me get this straight: The planes and buses bearing these images should not have been shown because nonvoters were present? Are these “many” people you are talking about simply going to stop aging? Using your logic, these ineligible voters apparently will never reach voting age and, thus, should not have seen the images. I guess I’m the only American who believes age should not be a factor when political information is being distributed.

Now that the board’s two main arguments have been discarded, I will move on to the board’s misinterpretation of the First Amendment. The board seems to feel that it was violated simply because people had no choice but to look at the images. Let’s see if the board’s interpretation of the First Amendment stays true to current Supreme Court jurisprudence.

The court today uses the “clear and present danger test” to determine if First Amendment rights were violated. In other words, speech must create a clear and present danger to others in order for it to be a violation of rights. In this case, the planes and buses simply depicted photos of what an abortion truly looks like. Their intention was to inform voters and nonvoters alike on a salient political issue. The group’s action neither created danger nor threatened those who actually chose to view their images, and therefore does not violate the clear and present danger test. While the board made a seemingly credible interpretation, it does not hold true to Court precedent.

In sum, the First Amendment protects individuals from dangerous speech. It does not give individuals a right to suppress opposing views simply because they do not agree with them. Just as the KSU Democrats have a right to hang up fliers that say “Dick Cheney Shot A Man,” the anti-abortion group also has a right to display its rhetoric. Sorry editorial board, but you cannot have one without the other.

Neal Casper

Senior Political Science Major