Liberty Tree Week@Berry writing contest

Liberty Tree Week@Berry Writing Contest: Rebooting America

A call for entries

A sizeable number of Americans are unable to name their basic freedoms, and less than a third can name even the three branches of government. Only about 3% of those surveyed could name “petition” as one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. Less than 20% named religion, press or assembly. Far more can name all of the “American Idol” judges or many if not most of the characters in “The Simpsons.”

Are we amusing ourselves to civic death?

The Liberty Tree Week@Berry essay contest, “Rebooting America,” invites undergraduate students to submit 1,000-word essays on one of three topics for a competition for cash prizes. First place will win $100; second place will take home $50; third place nets $25.

The contest, which is being administered in cooperation with the Honors Program at Berry, invites submissions on four issues or questions:

  • Do news media in America have too much freedom to watchdog government and inform an electorate? Or not enough? Just the right amount? Argue for or against, for example, a strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act, for or against a reporter’s right to protect the confidentiality of an anonymous source, or for or against the impunity of publishing truthful information legally obtained.
  • Seemingly every year, Congress introduces legislation to begin the process of amending the Constitution to explicitly prohibit the burning of the national flag. Argue for or against such legislation, discussing why an individual may or may not burn the national flag as “protected speech” under the First Amendment.
  • Should the clearing a Campus Carrier rack of the “free” newspaper be considered theft? Argue for or against a proposed Georgia law making school newspaper theft a specific criminal offense.
  • Does Berry’s speech code violate the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution? Several court cases nationally in the past 15 years have resulted in the abolishing of university speech codes, in particular hate speech codes. On the other hand, few would endorse hate speech as a responsible exercise of the right to expression. Examine Berry’s speech code and argue for or against its constitutionality.

Submit your entries for judging to Dr. Brian Carroll, electronically to bc AT berry.edu or snail mail to Box 299. Deadline is noon, Friday, May 1.

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