James Durcan, eighth-grade student at Bernotas, and Caden Alexander, eighth-grade student at Hannah Beardsley Middle School, recently were named winners of the McHenry County Bar Association’s 2019 Law Day essay contest.
Every year in recognition of the American Bar Association’s Law Day, the McHenry County Bar Association hosts an essay contest for students in grades six through eight in McHenry County. This year’s Law Day theme was “Should free speech restrictions be placed in social media? Why or why not?”
In 800 words or less, students were charged with taking a stand on this topic through persuasive writing, making a case either for or against social media censorship by the government.
Alexander expressed that government should not censor social media, partially because it’s difficult to decipher hate speech from satire, especially when using artificial intelligence.
“It’s not worth censoring everything to abolish hate speech because people will find work-arounds for hate speech,” he said.
In his essay, Alexander writes, “The possibility of the government being able to censor social media is in my opinion more scary than the hate speech that might be allowed to exist. I would rather be able to say what I want to say even if it means that not so well meaning people would be allowed to speak their mind.”
In his essay, Durcan concurred, emphasizing that government has no place regulating anything related to social media and that this responsibility belongs solely to social media companies.
The District 47 eighth-graders read portions of their winning essays May 3 at a Law Day ceremony and luncheon in McHenry.
Each student received a $100 check and a certificate.