The Importance of the Freedom of Speech


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There is no other government in the world that gives freedom to the people like the United States of America. In the last sixty years, American courts, have made a set of legal doctrines that protect all forms of the freedom of expression.
The First Amendment is a great respect toward the freedom of religion. It also prevents the government from "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." In the early history of America, protecting freedom has been very important to Americans. In Langston Hughes poem Freedom, he expresses the struggle to enjoy the freedom that he knows are his. He shows how much he wants freedom when he says, "I do not need my freedom when I'm dead. I cannot live on tomorrow's bread." I think Langston Hughes showed the message of the American immigrants fight for freedom in the poem, Freedom. I choose Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 as a example of the censorship in a world that is being ignored. The government tried to get this movie not shown in the U.S. because it was disrespecting the United States government. A lot of people accept this censorship of expression without trying to fight it. Freedom of speech is always being argued. In a court case, a Gloucester County school district censored reviews of two R-rated movies from a school newspaper. Superior Court Judge, Robert E. Francis ruled that the student's rights were violated under the state Constitution. There was a new bill proposed that would prevent school officials from controlling the content of student publications. Some people thought that the student journalists may be too young to understand the responsibilities that come with free speech.
One other issue was the 2 Live Crew incident. They had a record called "As Nasty as They Wanna Be." It was ruled obscene in federal court. They were acquitted and became examples of freedom of speech. A lot stores took the albums off the shelves but more than two million copies sold because of the incident.
The book, American Voices, is a collection of essays on the freedom of speech and censorship. Each essay defends a case for free commercial speech. The freedom of speech has always been argued.

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I think is important that we learn from these cases so that in the government will not violate our freedoms or oppress our liberty. Even in colonial times, personal freedoms in the United States has been very important. In the early stages of American history people wanted to put legally protected freedoms into written government documents. They soon drafted the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights by James Madison. The personal freedoms described in the Bill of Rights especially the freedom of speech, has been challenged in American courts of law and in other places. In Colonial America, people of different nationalities had different views on government, religion, and other subjects. Confrontations were prevented because of large acres of land that separated the groups. A person could easily settle in with other like believers and be untouched by the prejudices and oppression of others. When the United States became larger and larger, the groups were forced to live together.
The press of William Bradford was seized by the government when he printed up a copy of the colony's charter. He was charged and spent more than a year in prison. James Alexander was the first colonial writer to develop a philosophy on the freedom of speech. He founded the American Philosophical Society . The original Constitution did not have a bill of rights because the convention delegates said that individual rights were not in danger and will protected by the states. Not having bill of rights was the biggest objection to the ratification of the Constitution. Nine years after the Bill of Rights had been adopted it met its first serious challenge. In 1798, there was a threat of war with France and French refugees who were living in the United States. This insanity made Congress enact sedition laws. One law stopped the publication of false, scandalous or malicious writing against the government, Congress or the President. The penalty for this crime was a $2,000 fine and two years in prison. The public was mad at these laws. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison asked for freedom of speech and the press. The Sedition laws became a important issue in the presidential election of 1800. After Jefferson was elected, the Sedition Act expired and the people who was convicted under it were pardoned.
I believe that the First Amendment will continue to in the future. The reason for me believing this is that it has already been working for 215 years. We the people having a democratic government will always give us the upper hand. Things that we believe are wrong, we have the right to challenge those things. We can not be forced by the government to do something because of the first Amendment.

Bibliography

Amendments to the Constitution-Pathway to the Present
.American Voices. New York: Phillip Morris, 1987.
Bollinger, Lee. C. The Tolerant Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Hughes, Langston. The Panther and the Lash. New York:
Hentoff, Nat. The First Freedom. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1980.
Fahrenheit 9/11- Michael Moore, 2004
"'Free Speech' Moves for School Newspapers." The Star Ledger, 4 May 1991: A-3
"Student Wins Freedom of Speech Case." Daily Record, 24 April 1991


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