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Free Speech

Essay by   •  February 15, 2011  •  Essay  •  660 Words (3 Pages)  •  981 Views

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The topics related to The First Amendment of the United States of America has been the most controversial issues in society since the beginning of the American constitution. The First Amendment was written because all Americans beginning, citizens demanded a guarantee to their basic freedoms. The most basic freedoms, those of expression is the right to freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. If liberty of expression is not valued, as has often been the case in human history, there is no problem; freedom of expression is simply cut short in favor of other competing values. Free speech only becomes a volatile issue when it is highly valued because only then do the limitations placed upon it become controversial. And the first thing to note in any sensible discussion of freedom of speech is that it will be limited because it always takes place within a context of competing values, such as rasicm, classism, and sexism.

The people of the America are in fact free to speak as we like. Hence, free speech differs from some other forms of freedom of action. If the government wishes to stop citizens performing certain actions, drving cars for example, it can limit the freedom to do so by making sure that such vehicles are no longer available; current cars could be destroyed and a ban can be placed on them. Freedom of speech is a different case. A government cannot make it impossible to say certain things. Though the governement has tried to do this in the past with the Sedition Act of 1798 and the Clear and Present Danger Espionage Act, the only thing governement can do is punish people after they have said, written or published. This means that we are free to speak or write in a way that we are not free to drive outlawed cars. This is an important point; if we insist that legal prohibitions remove freedom then we have to hold the incoherent position that a person was unfree in the performance of an action. The government would have to remove our vocal chords for us to be unfree to speak in the same way as those who want to drive cars are unfree.

This is not to say that in some simplistic sense everybody in America believes in freedom of speech, and certainly it is not to say that everybody in America believes that freedom of speech means the same thing. But it is to say that in a sense both deep and wide; freedom of speech is a value that



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