Discussion is the key here. Despite what the media and some teachers would have you believe, the students were not punished for their dissenting opinions or for challenging the Commissioner on this issue. They were punished because the contents of their tweets were vulgar and have no place in civilized society. In addition, the students who were reprimanded sent their tweets during class time, an offense that right now is still punishable in Warwick Public Schools… no cell-phone use.
This is not a free speech issue, and to argue such is to show a grave misunderstanding of the first amendment. If a student approached a teacher or another student with an expletive laden attack, that student would be punished either by suspension or detention… the use of such language at a teacher, during school hours would not be tolerated… nor should it be. The same is true with online messages…
Kids have this belief that because they post it online, it’s somehow less ‘real’ than if they say it in person… this is just not the case. The fact that some adults are arguing that this is a free speech issue just betrays their real agenda of disagreement with the Commissioner rather than their understanding or devotion to any constitutional amendment. The fact that parents and other adults attempt to condone such language under the farce of a free speech argument speaks volumes to where our society is at the moment. Instead of making an argument based on what you think "free speech" is… do a little research. Throughout the existence of our constitutional form of government, the Supreme Court has ruled that there are limits to free speech. Try reading the actual document and related rulings before shouting nonsense about your first amendment rights!