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Freedom of Expression Is Vital to a Free Society Essay

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The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “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.” Does this mean that freedom of speech cannot be prohibited in any way? Are there any reasonable arguments for limiting speech? In this paper, these questions will be examined along with a discussion of where the basic right of free speech originated. Today, society or government can attempt to regulate speech, but it cannot prevent it if a person is within the parameters of his or her constitutional rights.
For centuries, civilizations have struggled on deciding what is morality acceptable speech and trying to place restrictions on what is considered inappropriate material. The U.S. is no exception in facing this type of dilemma. In the book, Civil Rights and Liberties in the 21st Century, author John C. Domino details several issues concerning the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression. Domino’s first point is related to subversive political speech, which is in reference to the clear and present danger doctrine. The doctrine came about from a Supreme Court ruling, Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), that established a test to permit governmental restrictions on political expression (Domino 30-31). Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the test of four conditions that must be met in order to restrict an individual’s freedom of speech; they are intent of the person, the gravity of evil, proximity of danger, and the circumstances surrounding the words (33). Therefore, there is ...


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...t Amendment of the Constitution. They believed that free speech is not a privilege but a natural right given to all people. That truth is still true today; free speech should allow any individual to express an opinion without interference or censorship by the government unless there is substantial justification. The Supreme Court has recognized instances where some speech may require restrictions, but not because it judges it offensive, irresponsible, or immoral. Freedom of expression is vital to a free society. It allows for equality when information, ideas, and other viewpoints are permitted affirming the dignity and self-worth of every human being.



Works Cited
Domino, John C. Civil Rights and Liberties in the 21st Century. 3rd ed. Longman, 2010. Print.
Rakove, Jack N. Declaring Rights: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford Books,
1998. Print.



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