Free speech doesn't apply to everything

We live in a beautiful country, a country where we have rights that others do not enjoy.

Freedom of speech is perhaps the most guarded and cherished of those rights, especially from the point of view of a newspaper.

Freedom of speech is what allows this newspaper to exist, it is what allows you to write a letter to the editor (please e-mail them to news@doloresstar.com) and it is what allows you to voice your political views. It is, for example, what allows many to drive around with bumper stickers voicing concern over leadership. That right is, in fact, a right, we as Americans have, something that can lead to dire results in other countries.

But Freedom of Speech does have limits.

You can't, for example, and this is the example given in nearly every government class, yell "Fire" in a crowded theater. For yelling this, if it were not true, could lead to injuries as everyone scurries out of the building, and that would be your fault.

Other limits include libel, words that can hurt a person's reputation.

At meetings, everything is public, recorded and basically set in stone for others to read in years to come. Boards often limit public speakers to what they can say. You can't attack employees or anyone else by name. That employee has the right to have issues discussed in closed session, out of the public eye, they have the right to defend accusations and they have the right to know ahead of time if any of this is going to happen.

Those freedoms can be expressed, but at a school there are further limits. We all love Facebook, it is a freedom of expression millions enjoy, but it does not belong at the school. Why? Well, it is distracting. Students are at school to study and learn how to become productive citizens. Facebook, with all of its joys is just too distracting and is not allowed at most schools. The Dolores School District administration recently told students they could no longer display the Confederate Flag at school. Why? Well, it was a distraction, taking away from the school's primary goal - education. There are many other reasons for this decision, including an alleged hate crime, but those at the school know what is best to make a positive learning environment.

We live in a country in which we are blessed to have freedom of speech, but we also are blessed to be able to send our children to a school free of distractions, so they can learn.

We also live in a country where debates are cherished, as long as we don't harm others.