By Anne Halliwell
After an unexpected demonstration of free speech rights Wednesday, students and teachers from Louisvilles duPont Manual High School received an opportunity to put the lessons they learned into action.
U.S. Senate write-in candidate Robert Ransdell spoke at Citizen Kentuckys Constitution Day event at the Student Center Wednesday and voiced his controversial political beliefs to the audience. Ransdell had used the event to speak about his With Jews We Lose campaign for the 2014 election. James Miller, a duPont Manual journalism teacher, spoke immediately after Ransdell was removed from the stage and denounced his use of the public platform to promote his ideology.
Several duPont Manual student reporters for the Manual Red Eye school media website stayed in their computer lab after school to put video and a print story online, Miller said.
We had a lengthy discussion about the First Amendment, freedom of speech, the obligation of public and private universities to provide a platform for invited speakers, said Miller, who attended the event with 35 students to receive the Enoch Grehan Journalism award.
Miller provided expertise and a sounding board for his journalism students, along with his wife, Liz Palmer, who also won the Enoch Grehan award Wednesday and is a teacher at duPont Manual. Palmer and Miller did not control the content that the students produced, Miller said.
We are very much in mind of a prevailing idea that the students are the editors, he said.
Some of Millers students have expressed disbelief about Ransdells right to speak at all, which is not the point of his speech immediately following Ransdells speech on Wednesday, Miller said.
The issue is not whether Ransdell has the right to share his opinions with the public, but whether UK should have informed Miller and Palmer about Ransdell so they could decide for themselves whether to warn their students or opt not to attend, Miller said.