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The Symbolic Speech of The Tinkers in The Tinker V. Des Moines Case

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The case I will be talking about is the Tinker v. Des Moines case. This case is about John and Mary Beth Tinker who attended public school in Des Moines, Iowa in 1965. Their school did not allow students to wear armbands to protest the Vietnam War. However, the Tinkers decided to wear armbands to school anyway. The school officials asked the Tinkers to remove their armbands, but the Tinkers refused. John and Mary Beth were suspended from school until they agreed to remove the armbands. As a result of this, the Tinkers sued their school district. The Tinkers believed that the Des Moines school district violated their right to free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Even though the students were not speaking with their voices, they believed that wearing armbands was like speaking. The term in which this is referred to is called Symbolic Speech.

“The United States Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines ruled in favor of the Tinkers…claiming that the protest undertaken by the students did not intend to spark violence, destruction, damage or criminal activity” This case effects Bronx Compass greatly. If this law was still in effect, there wouldn’t be a lot of pro LGBT people who talk openly about what they feel. Our school also wouldn’t have a Gay Straight Alliance. Other supreme court cases that talk about freedom of speech are Morse v. Frederick, 2007 and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988. In the Morse v. Fredrick case, the ruling went to the principal who was accused by the student, of his right to freedom of speech. The reason why he lost this ruling is because “School authorities do not violate the First Amendment when they stop students from expressing views that may be interpreted as promoting illegal drug use.” in other words, because he was promoting the use of drugs (which is wrong for children) the principle had to put an end to his “Symbolic Speech ”.

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The Symbolic Speech of the Tinkers in the Tinker V. Des Moines Case. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from
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