Saturday at the Constitution Day presentation questions rang out from the audience. “Can you promote Christianity at a public school?” This was one of the first questions shouted out to Loretta Calvert, who is the coordinator of paralegal studies at Vol State. “What about people distributing the Koran on a college campus?” was another. Calvert carefully navigated a number of cases in U.S. history showing how public institutions can prevent some types of activity while not having any say about others. This can be based on whether or not the organization that is attempting to promote something is functioning in a public or private capacity. I am glad that our country has considered some of these complexities.
In 1971, Cohen vs. the State of California was a publicized case where a teenager wore a jacket expressing profanity on the back, outside of a courthouse and was arrested as a result. The Supreme Court overturned this particular case.
Ultimately we need to be considerate of others actions and considerate with our own. There are a number of cases in which the situation was almost identical yet the ruling was different. Each case is dealt with individually, because there is a fine line between freedom of speech and disorderly conduct.
As difficult and uncomfortable as many of these scenarios are, it is important for us to discuss them. I am glad I took the time to listen in on Saturday. To top of the end of a great day, paralegal student Chuck Brandt served his stuffed jalapenos with cream cheese and grilled shrimp, wrapped in bacon.
Volunteer State Community College