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Overview of the Concept of Freedom of Speech

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Overview of the Concept of Freedom of Speech
In the book Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment, the author Anthony Lewis gives us lots of law cases following by the timeline to state how the First Amendment developed and what its meaning in both law and society is. By reading this book after listening to lectures about free speech and reading A Gift of Fire written by Sara Baase, the textbook for the lecture, I have learned more detailed about the history and definition development of the freedom of speech and hence came up some new thoughts towards my life.
Brief History
While ruling by the England colonist, people living in the North America had little freedom of speech and of thought. The King had two methods to repress the free speech and thought. One is the “publication licensing system”, which prevented people from publish any negative or disrespectful information about their governors; another is the “seditious libel law”, making the behavior mentioned above a crime (Lewis, P.2). During this time, people had little tolerance of dissent. About two hundred years later from establishing the license system, in 1735, printer Zenger was sued because he printed a newspaper which attacked the governor. His lawyer argued the criticisms were not libel, which successfully persuaded the jury to decide Zenger was not guilty. This case impressed the colonies a lot. Soon in the late eighteen century, it led the governors to be afraid of the outrage from people and more and more people used truth to against the law of seditious libel. Under these circumstances, people came up an idea impelling government to add the freedom of press into their laws.
In the 1787 federal Constitution, there was no per...


... middle of paper ...


...osal was truly useful, they got nothing in the end.
The First Amendment does provide us a constitutional protection of our rights to freedom of speech, of thought and of press and also reminds us that there are some restrictions of the freedom. We have both the rights and responsibility: the right is to enjoy the freedom; the responsibility is to respect others’ rights and protect our rights by speaking out our thoughts!










Works Cited
Baase, Sara. A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing Technology. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2013. Print.
Lewis, Anthony. Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment. New York: Basic Books, 2007. Print.
New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated, Title LXII: Criminal Code, Section 631:7. New Hampshire General Court, 1 July 1993. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.



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