Persuasive Essay - The School of US Constitution and Freedom
Perhaps the most astounding thing about the United States Constitution is that it gives all citizens the right to voice their opinion about our government and those who run it. Any speech is covered by the freedoms contained in the Fifth Amendment, as long it is not outright treasonous and does not endanger others. No matter how outrageous or unwise an opinion might be, every citizen is protected in stating it.
Recently, a social studies teacher in Denver evidently decided to put this to the test by comparing President George Bush's State of the Union address to speeches made by Adolph Hitler. A statement like that is bound to find its way out of the classroom, and this one did, appearing in media across the country. The teacher was temporarily removed from the classroom, but eventually reinstated by the board of education. Although many would disagree with their decision, it was the right thing to do.
Freedom to engage in political debate is guaranteed by our constitution. The founders of this country never intended for discussion of important matters to always be polite, or for those with out-of-the-mainstream opinions to remain unheard. If the freedom to speak with a foot in one's mouth was not guaranteed, few politicians would survive more than one term in office. If the leaders of this country are allowed to make fools of themselves, the average citizen is certainly allowed to follow suit.
The question faced by the Denver school board was whether the freedom to be outrageous and foolish should extend to the high school classroom. The image of the teacher is of one who is expected to be wise and knowing in all matters. Particularly in a social studies class, discussion of governmental matters is likely to stick to the orthodox line. That this teacher stepped over-way over-the line shocked everyone. But along with that shock and the discomfort caused by such a bald statement came an opportunity for reflection on the nature and extent of our freedoms, and discussion of the limits those freedoms might or might not possess. This kind of critical thinking and debate is essential for an informed citizenry, particularly in a political atmosphere as contentious as the one we face today. Poisonous campaign ads and toxic talk radio exist to influence voters who can't sort through the murk to decide issues for themselves. Provoking thought, even in such an extreme manner as that used by this teacher, is a desirable goal.
There will always be those who can't see the wisdom of protecting our freedoms by allowing dissent, whether it be in the form of shocking speeches, flag burning, or satirical White House sketches on Saturday Night Live. The saying "Use it or lose it" applies in this situation. Statements like the one made by the Denver teacher put freedom of speech to the utmost test. Maybe he didn't earn an A+ in wisdom in this case, but he gets extra points for provoking critical thought by his students, and by us all.