Causing panic not tolerated

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The language within the Bill of Rights is what sets the United States apart from many other nations whose citizens don’t have the same rights and freedoms we can enjoy as Americans.

The First Amendment is probably one of the most recognizable parts of our nation’s Constitution. It gives every American the right to freedom of religion, freedom of the press, right to petition and peacefully assemble and, what ties all those together, freedom of speech.

Two Proctorville teens discovered recently, however, that not all speech is free and accepted under the law.

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Officials at Fairland Local Schools were alerted to some potential threats on the social media site Instagram, which allegedly featured the two 18-year-olds posing in photos with various firearms captioned with what those officials and law enforcement deemed “alarming.” There were also alleged posts of security footage photos of the two students who murdered 13 people and wounded dozens at Columbine High School in April of 1999.

School officials were justified in taking those posts seriously. Threatening speech is not protected under the First Amendment and when it comes to the safety of school children and the community at large, there is no time to wait and see if potential threats may come to fruition.

It will now be up to a court to decide if those photos, videos and other confiscated material could be considered made in jest or legitimate threats.

Either way, we hope those young men learn a valuable lesson that causing a panic will not be tolerated.