A Primer To Free Speech in America

A Primer To Free Speech in America

75 views

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, sheep to the slaughter” – George Washington

The United States Bill of Rights lays out the protections American citizens have from the government. First and foremost is the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 The first amendment, and most notably the freedom of speech, has always been important to Americans. It represents one of the most vital aspects of a democracy, and an important characteristic of a free society. Through the Supreme Court, the definition of what constitutes free speech has constantly been changing since the colonial era. A plethora of court cases over the course of a hundred years has expanded and contracted the definition to include the right to silence (West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943), student expression (Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969), and symbolic speech, such as the burning of the American flag (Texas v. Johnson, 1989). The court has also determined that the right to free speech does not allow individuals to abuse that right to incite actions that might harm others (Schenck v. United States, 1919), or to make and distribute obscene materials (Roth v. United States, 1957). Additionally, the court has limited the free speech of students in school regarding obscene language at school-sponsored events (Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988), and the printing of articles in school papers that the administration might object to (Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 1986).

Americans have always recognized and taken advantage of their right to free speech. The United States is notoriously a nation of protest and individuals who speak their minds. No one thinks twice about a man who insults the president or Congress on his twitter feed. Likewise, the U.S. government is built on the assumption that citizens will use their freedom of speech to communicate with their representatives, who in turn will voice their opinions to Congress through legislation. It is important to remember, however, that it has not always been this way. In the early years of the nation, John Adams signed The Alien and Sedition Acts into law. Among other things, these acts restricted speech that was critical of the government. Under this law, many citizens, most of whom were Republican opponents of the Federalists, were fined, or even jailed.

Since the Sedition Act was repealed, the U.S. has mostly taken steps to expand free speech to the point it is at today. Now the United States and its citizens have the advantage of being able to judge other citizens and countries’ stance on free speech. Americans tend to see everything through a very patriotic lens; anything that is done like Americans do it is good, and anything that is done in any different way is bad. And while it is a universally accepted fact that citizens of their respective nations should not be suppressed or abused by their governments, different countries have different views on free speech and what it entails. Circumstances vary around the globe, as do the platforms available for the expression of free speech. There are many nations that are just forming, or are at the point the U.S. was in 1789 when it passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. Because of this, citizens may be lacking certain rights that America has recognized for centuries.

There are many reasons a government might choose to limit free speech by its citizens. Like in the nations involved in the Arab Spring, it might be fearful of revolution. It might be a totalitarian state, like North Korea, whose continued success relies on the suppression of its citizens. Free speech may even be limited just because the government is unsure of how to handle new technology and platforms of expression, such as Facebook and Twitter. Even in countries that have established free speech laws, they might be more liberal or more constrictive than those in the United States; it is, again, important to remember that circumstances vary from country to country.

The purpose of this column will be to examine encroachments and limitations on the right to free speech of citizens in different countries under different forms of government. I will be looking at the reasons behind certain limitations, or even expansions of free speech, and how the citizens react or take advantage of this freedom. I will take into account the media of individual countries, and how the international community and Untied States view the freedoms afforded to the citizens living there. I will also consider how the citizens themselves view their rights, and if they have the ability to express their opinions on their rights in the way I am luckily enough to have by being a citizen of the United States.

[Image credit: http://constitutioncenter.org/images/uploads/heros/bill-of-rights-hero-lg.jpg]

About author

Allia Calkins

Allia Calkins is a senior from Rochester, NY majoring in Economics and History with a minor in French. Aside from a brief stint with the local Democratic Committee in 12th grade, Allia has limited her political involvement to VPR and nightly dates with Jon Stewart (RIP). Her favorite Twitter personalities include Ezra Klein, Josh Groban, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Go Bills!

Comments
  • goyard bags#1

    January 11, 2019

    I precisely had to thank you so much again. I am not sure the things that I might have created in the absence of the type of strategies shared by you over my subject. It previously was the traumatic difficulty in my opinion, nevertheless encountering this skilled manner you resolved it forced me to weep over delight. Now i am happier for the advice and as well , sincerely hope you are aware of an amazing job you are getting into educating others via your web site. Most likely you haven’t met any of us.

    Reply
  • golden goose sneakers#2

    January 9, 2019

    I simply desired to appreciate you yet again. I do not know the things I would’ve carried out in the absence of the actual ideas revealed by you on my area. It became a real frustrating setting in my view, nevertheless coming across this specialised strategy you treated it made me to leap over contentment. I’m happy for this assistance as well as pray you comprehend what a great job that you’re doing instructing most people through the use of your websites. I am sure you have never come across all of us.

    Reply
  • yeezy boost 350#3

    January 9, 2019

    I want to express my love for your generosity supporting men and women that really want help on in this concern. Your very own dedication to getting the solution all over came to be amazingly productive and have all the time permitted guys and women much like me to realize their ambitions. Your amazing insightful tutorial can mean a whole lot a person like me and still more to my fellow workers. Thank you; from all of us.

    Reply
  • yeezy boost 350 v2#4

    January 8, 2019

    My wife and i were quite glad that Emmanuel could round up his basic research using the ideas he received out of your web page. It is now and again perplexing to simply always be giving out steps which usually people could have been trying to sell. And we also discover we have got the website owner to thank for that. Most of the explanations you made, the easy web site menu, the relationships you can assist to promote – it’s everything amazing, and it’s really facilitating our son and us know that this theme is excellent, which is extraordinarily serious. Thanks for everything!

    Reply
  • asics shoes#5

    January 8, 2019

    Thanks a lot for providing individuals with a very brilliant possiblity to read in detail from here. It is always so terrific plus full of fun for me personally and my office co-workers to visit your website a minimum of thrice per week to read through the fresh guidance you will have. And of course, I’m always satisfied for the excellent tactics served by you. Some 3 facts in this article are surely the most impressive we have ever had.

    Reply
  • adidas eqt#6

    January 7, 2019

    I enjoy you because of your whole effort on this website. Kate loves participating in internet research and it is easy to understand why. Almost all notice all concerning the dynamic ways you offer both interesting and useful ideas on the web site and therefore cause response from website visitors on the idea so our child is understanding a lot of things. Have fun with the remaining portion of the new year. You’re the one carrying out a splendid job.

    Reply
  • exeliaVaR#7

    January 7, 2019

    By doing this you can suffer from methods, knowledge, plots of land, and many more to allow you to ensure proposals occasionally your primary subliminal audio spirit doesn’t necessarily assist.If climbing in the warmth of the desert is not for you, you could possibly also try out the extreme activity of indoor rock climbing. Many of these chargers are so efficient that they can charge a cell phone battery in less than an hour. Director of the film Ken Loach thanked the people of the northern England city of Newcastle where the film is set. You will discover a variety of websites inside the city that give rock walls.Dev Patel won the BAFTA for best supporting actor for his role in Lion while Viola Davis won best supporting actress for her performance in Fences paying tribute to August Wilson who wrote the play on which the film was based. The Atlanta Gwinnett visit can be an unforgettable experience for each and every tourist who visits the place.1 specific critical activity in Houston is skateboarding. It is a dream team consisting of a list of football hall of famers including Paul Hornung, Max McGee, [url=http://www.cheapnikenfljerseysshop.us.com/]Cheap MLB Jerseys[/url], Jim Taylor, Boyd Dowler,[url=http://www.cheapnikenfljerseysshop.us.com/]Cheap Jerseys China[/url], and Vince Lombardi.Among the stars and VIP guests arriving on the red carpet were Prince William and Princess Catherine the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Using a downline builder is free and a great way to start your List building, one of the best reasons to have your own downline is to give free products and services to your downline and to offer onetime sales or have many repeat sales from different customers on your list.Meanwhile Justin Hurwitz won the award for original music for La La Land.[url=http://www.cheapnikenfljerseysshop.us.com/]Cheap NFL Jerseys From China[/url].Visit my sitehttp://www.cheapnikenfljerseysshop.us.com/

    Reply
  • nike air max 90#8

    January 6, 2019

    Thanks a lot for providing individuals with remarkably spectacular chance to read in detail from here. It is usually very terrific and full of amusement for me and my office co-workers to search your website on the least three times in a week to read the fresh guidance you have. And definitely, I’m just actually fascinated for the breathtaking methods you give. Certain 3 facts in this article are essentially the best I have ever had.

    Reply
  • kyrie shoes#9

    January 5, 2019

    I together with my pals have already been reading through the good strategies on the website and then before long got a terrible feeling I never thanked you for those strategies. Most of the young boys came as a result very interested to see all of them and have in fact been taking pleasure in those things. We appreciate you genuinely indeed accommodating as well as for picking this kind of fantastic tips most people are really desperate to understand about. My honest apologies for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

    Reply
  • chrome hearts outlet#10

    January 4, 2019

    I in addition to my friends were reading the best information and facts found on the blog and then I had an awful feeling I had not expressed respect to the web site owner for those strategies. All of the people are already so very interested to study all of them and have now clearly been using these things. Appreciate your really being so kind and then for deciding upon this sort of good things millions of individuals are really eager to understand about. My honest apologies for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

    Reply
  • yeezy shoes#11

    January 3, 2019

    I just wanted to type a message to express gratitude to you for all the pleasant suggestions you are giving at this site. My prolonged internet research has at the end of the day been compensated with useful information to talk about with my close friends. I ‘d assert that we site visitors actually are unquestionably lucky to be in a very good network with so many awesome individuals with helpful ideas. I feel somewhat privileged to have discovered the site and look forward to tons of more cool moments reading here. Thank you once again for all the details.

    Reply
  • adidas nmd#12

    January 3, 2019

    I wish to show appreciation to this writer just for bailing me out of this condition. As a result of browsing throughout the world-wide-web and obtaining thoughts which are not helpful, I believed my entire life was over. Being alive without the presence of approaches to the problems you’ve fixed through this write-up is a critical case, and ones which may have adversely affected my career if I had not come across your web page. Your personal competence and kindness in handling all the things was priceless. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t discovered such a thing like this. I am able to at this moment look forward to my future. Thank you very much for your expert and amazing help. I will not be reluctant to endorse your web page to anyone who should have guide about this matter.

    Reply
  • adidas ultra boost uncaged#13

    January 2, 2019

    I have to express my passion for your generosity giving support to people who need help with the study. Your special commitment to getting the message all-around appears to be wonderfully insightful and has regularly encouraged most people like me to arrive at their pursuits. Your entire warm and helpful tutorial denotes a lot to me and far more to my fellow workers. Regards; from each one of us.

    Reply
  • yeezy boost 350#14

    January 1, 2019

    I needed to post you that very small word so as to say thanks a lot yet again with the unique information you’ve provided on this website. This has been really pretty open-handed of people like you to present freely what exactly some people would have offered as an e-book to earn some profit for themselves, primarily considering the fact that you might have done it if you desired. Those techniques in addition served to provide a great way to be aware that other people online have the identical eagerness just as my personal own to understand significantly more with respect to this condition. I believe there are thousands of more fun opportunities in the future for individuals who look into your site.

    Reply
  • yeezy boost 350 v2#15

    January 1, 2019

    Thanks a lot for providing individuals with remarkably breathtaking opportunity to discover important secrets from this website. It really is very enjoyable plus packed with a great time for me personally and my office friends to visit your web site at the least three times in a week to study the latest guidance you have. And of course, I’m also usually motivated considering the stunning advice you serve. Selected 2 ideas on this page are surely the most efficient we have ever had.

    Reply
  • exeliaVaR#16

    December 25, 2018

    The quite very first issue I tell my students ahead of the lesson commences is:“The 1st three points to complete just before you Skate does not involve a skateboard at all!”I then ask them if they can imagine of some things that they would have to do just ahead of they skate, the solutions are:one) Stretching2) Hydration (Getting water or gatorade easily obtainable)3) Helmet and Pads (make confident they are all strapped up)When all of these products are checked of the list the Lesson is prepared to start.Do not forget, [url=http://www.cheapnflchinajerseyswholesale.us.com/]Cheap Jerseys Wholesale[/url], walking strengthens the particular muscles and maintains your cardiovascular bodily organs healthy, as also, it is a form associated with exercise. movie.[url=http://www.cheapnflchinajerseyswholesale.us.com/]Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys China Wholesale[/url]. Many people find it difficult to contend with those same behavior.The overall sexual health can be seriously affected as a result of excessive night discharge.Car chargers are useless if you do not ever travel by car. Every a player struggling using sentiments. Archive the plan so you are aware how you are going. Off the World Cup, players must do more physical training,they need to make a good preparation for the training, such as purchasing the wholesale jerseys for making sure they have enough jerseys to wear in training program. We should play each game as the last game and do our best from now on”” she added. If your phone starts to lose power,[url=http://www.cheapnflchinajerseyswholesale.us.com/]Cheap Jerseys From China[/url], you can just plug in the external battery and recharge it.Dev Patel won the BAFTA for best supporting actor for his role in Lion while Viola Davis won best supporting actress for her performance in Fences paying tribute to August Wilson who wrote the play on which the film was based.Visit my sitehttp://www.cheapnflchinajerseyswholesale.us.com/

    Reply
  • exeliaVaR#17

    December 22, 2018

    It reduces the chances of nightfall and keeps well the health of the individuals.The overall sexual health can be seriously affected as a result of excessive night discharge. It cannot be repeated often enough that time is money- which is important for businesses seeking to capitalize of labor and serve their consumers effectively. When they supply all the prevalent severe sports, skateboarding, BMX biking, and aspects like skydiving, [url=http://www.cheapnfljerseysshopwholesale.us.com/]Cheap Jerseys From China[/url], they also have a likelihood to provide you excellent sports activities like rock climbing, too, mainly because of the nature of the location. Last season’s Amy’s Choice tantalisingly promised an episode set on the TARDIS,[url=http://www.cheapnfljerseysshopwholesale.us.com/]Cheap NFL Jerseys From China[/url], but failed to deliver the goods. During the playoffs they won 21-0 against the giants and 24-0 against the rams for the NFC title. Start off by utilize. Can I get approved?I wish for you to ask absolutely everyone you talk to these concerns, and I want you to call us at (678) 765-9111 and I€d bet our answers would surpass your expectations.The airline also announced the delivery of a substitute aircraft to continue the flight service, saying that “safety and comfort of our customers is our first priority and we flew a substitute aircraft to continue with the flight service for our valued customers.”Brooks joked to the audience that he did not consider Britain “a separate country to the U. On the other hand, lacking the authorization from appropriate assigned bureau such as the DOJ, performing these evaluations is not likely to happen. Once you have created folks footage be more successful situation you take note of the amount you do not, the new inspiring ideas, ways, and so on.[url=http://www.cheapnfljerseysshopwholesale.us.com/]Cheap Jerseys[/url].Visit my sitehttp://www.cheapnfljerseysshopwholesale.us.com/

    Reply
  • Joel Cohen#18

    October 4, 2013

    By having free speech is a true blessing but it can also work against you if not used carefully. that is why we have laws to combat slanderous statements which are not true made by people who abuse free speech. Also many things can be said which are not slanderous but untrue. One should investigate before believing what is read in the press or stated on television.

    Keep up the good work. Your primer is wonderful.

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *