Free Speech

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The first amendment of the United States constitution says “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.”

Our great country was built upon the ideals of liberty, justice and freedom for people of different outlooks and the ability to communicate their disagreements out in the open. This is the spirit of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. However, Americans don’t have the luxury of always saying what they please. Your right to free speech is limited by where you are, what you say, and how you say it.

Individuals who post messages anonymously often think they are making valid points. However their posts might contain false statements and might even be classified as bullying or defamation. Online libel is a big risk for those who blog, as it does for any writer in any medium.

Despite many people’s incessant persistence that the freedom of speech permits them to harass others online, the courts and congress have carved out specific types of speech that are excluded from protection. Additionally, states, like California, have criminal laws against harassment, whether in person or done through the internet. The general exclusions include defamation of character or Invasion of privacy, obscenity, copyright or trademark Infringement or inciting a riot.

Also, the government can put “reasonable restrictions” on free speech, like those that limit the time, place, and type of the speech. For example, forbidding demonstrators from chanting loudly before 6:00 A.M. in a residential neighborhood is one example of a reasonable restriction.

It makes absolutely no sense for a webmaster to put up with speech that aggressively goes against these values. Furthermore, this type of speech circumvents the spirit of free speech diminishing it’s purpose. A society that permits uncontrolled hate speech is a society that will probably tolerate prejudice at every level.

People seem to consider freedom of speech as an unchallengeable right. This thinking is far from reality. In constitutional democracies, free speech is understandably limited in a number of ways either by law or policy, even here in the United States. The classic example of excluded speech is falsely yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.

The notion that people should have to put up with hate speech against them in the guise of freedom of expression is very offensive to me. I consider it bullying. This isn’t just a philosophical discussion. The right of free speech is an important right, however it must not be permitted to be more important than the rights of other people.

The right to bear arms does not grant someone permission to shoot another human being. This right carries with it the duty of the gun owner to use it with great care. Likewise the right of ‘freedom of speech’ should be practiced very carefully so that we do not spread hatred and hostility.

The freedom of speech is one of the most habitually mentioned constitutional rights online. Too often though it is cited to justify a person’s right to say things that others may find offensive. However, while most people understand that there are limits to free speech, just as many people are shocked to find out that freedom of speech doesn’t actually pertain to many of the websites that they are using.

I do not believe that we should eliminate the right of ’freedom of speech’. I applaud the fact that a person should have the freedom to express their ideas and opinions as these produce progress innovation and innovation. But by the same token it is wrong to spread hate, to malign and slander fellow human beings all in the name of freedom of speech.

Basically people now just insult each other for holding different opinions from them. This is why I think freedom of speech should be used judiciously.  As a writer and blogger, I fully support the constitution and the bill of rights. However when someone goes on a privately owned blog or website, I believe the owner has every right and in fact the duty to delete offensive posts and even ban the person who wrote them.

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