Freedom of Speech
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This paper examines the right to freedom of speech and discusses the threats to its protection throughout the history. The paper maintains that regardless of the source of threat -- whether academic, police or corporate -- the freedom of speech is essential to an open society and must be protected, regardless of public opinion. The paper cites several recent examples of such controversial speech, including by Professor Ward Churchill, who compared the victims of 9/11 to cogs in Hitler's war machine.
From the Paper:"The guarantee of free speech is both a sign of an open society and a protection that distinguishes the United States from other, less open societies that offer their citizens no such protections. Freedoms guaranteed United States citizens based on the First Amendment include freedoms of "speech; press; religion, assembly and petition" ("About the First Amendment"). Further, "Without the First Amendment, religious minorities could be persecuted, the government might well establish a national religion, protesters could be silenced, the press could not criticize government, and citizens could not mobilize for social change" ("About the First Amendment"). Freedom of speech also protects movies, videos, song lyrics, advertisements, and other communications that may not be to everyone's taste. The alternative to freedom of speech is government censorship. As Wikipedia points out, however ("Freedom of Speech"): "The philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville observed that people may be hesitant to speak freely not because of fear of government retribution but because of social pressures." That is, when an individual states an opinion that is not mainstream, or is considered unpopular, he or she might be subjected to peer pressure to change or retract the opinion; community rejection; disdain or ostracism, or even threatening or violent reactions from others. As Tocqueville correctly predicted, the fear of such reaction to the exercise of free speech, on the part of many individuals, even with the free speech protections granted by the U.S. Constitution, often functions as a sort of self censorship."
Cite this Essay:
Freedom of Speech (2006, July 31) Retrieved December 04, 2023, from https://www.academon.com/essay/freedom-of-speech-68073/
"Freedom of Speech" 31 July 2006. Web. 04 December. 2023. <https://www.academon.com/essay/freedom-of-speech-68073/>