The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church, stating protection under the First Amendment, presumably because protesters were not inciting violence and were within their rights no matter how outrageous their message. The conclusion of Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion:
Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here—inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course—to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.
The Court identified certain categorical exceptions to First Amendment protections, including obscenities, certain profane and slanderous speech, and “fighting words.” He found that Chaplinsky’s insults were “fighting words” since they caused a direct harm to their target and could be construed to advocate an immediate breach of the peace. Thus, they lacked the social value of disseminating ideas to the public that lay behind the rights granted by the First Amendment.
The Freedom Forum Institute has a great primer on the First Amendment that I highly recommend.
If you’re stumped on where to start for your blog post, check out some of the resources below. Remember, you’re looking at digital presence of candidates, so explain why the candidates’ digital presence helped or harmed them. Don’t go bananas with data, just pick a small dataset to work with. You don’t have to stick with just election results, either; you could look at voter turnout by age, campaign donations, communications budgets, etc. There’s a lot of data out there!
icon-edit Edit: If you are having trouble with the data part of your post, don’t worry, we’ll troubleshoot in class tomorrow!
To help with midterm stress, the University Library will bring in therapy dogs next Tuesday and Wednesday in Leyburn’s Writing Center. Duncan and Ripley are super sweet and cuddly, even for a crazy cat lady like myself.
I mentioned #gamergate in class today, and most of you didn’t know about it. This is understandable, considering it happened in 2014, but it was a turning point in social media, digital journalism, and social networks.
This article is a good redux of what happened. You can see the parallels to I Hate the Internet, and it’s a good segue into our discussion on trolling on Thursday.
Step 1: Plan your blog post by choosing a topic, creating an outline, conducting research, and checking facts.
Step 2: Craft a headline that is both informative and will capture readers’ attentions.
Step 3: Write your post, either writing a draft in a single session or gradually word on parts of it.
Step 4: Use images to enhance your post, improve its flow, add humor, and explain complex topics.
Step 5: Edit your blog post. Make sure to avoid repetition, read your post aloud to check its flow, have someone else read it and provide feedback, keep sentences and paragraphs short, don’t be a perfectionist, don’t be afraid to cut out text or adapt your writing last minute.
Feel free to make an appointment or drop in to the Writing Center in Leyburn Library if you’d like help, and have your roommate or another friend proof read for you.
If you are registered for Professor Abdoney’s section of DCI 180, I give you a hearty welcome. We will go over everything you need to know on the first day of class, but if you’d like to get a head start, feel free to go ahead and order your copy of The Circle, which we will be reading in this class.
In the meantime, please let me know if you have questions by emailing me.