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Safety vs Freedom of Speech

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Length: 722 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)
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Look around you America. Your world is changing. Suddenly it’s no longer safe to fly in airplanes, attend sporting events, or just open your junk mail. Almost daily, news of threats and security breach’s litter the airwaves, leaving many asking the same question. “How can we make our country safe again?” Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. America is united in the cause, but divided over the methods of preventing terrorism. At this time of uncertainty, many are urging Americans to “give up” some of their freedoms and privacy in exchange for safety. Regrettably, this wave of patriotism has spilled over, and is beginning to infringe on our fundamental liberties as outlined in the Bill of Rights. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks those who have made comments contrary to popular beliefs have prompted much debate about free speech. When America experiences some great trauma, our freedom of speech often faces its own trauma.

Across the country, people are expressing opinions unpopular with American culture post
September 11th. In Colorado, school officials demonstrate the new rush to suppress any un- American sentiment by “forcing a student to remove an upside down American flag sewn on the seat of her jeans [calling it] an obscene insult to Americanism” (Leo). Blinded by their patriotism, these school officials disregarded the student’s first amendment rights. This same eagerness to attack free-speakers also occurred at the University of New Mexico. In this highly publicized incident, Prof Richard Berthold told his class “Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote” (Leo). Upon hearing such an outrageous statement, many Americans are demanding the professor be suspended or fired. Americans’ post September 11t...


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...that might be considered “unpatriotic.” This practice must stop. Ignoring the Bill of Rights during a crisis sets a dangerous precedent of inconsistency. This lack of respect for laws can snowball into a total disregard of freedom and liberty. The public and press cannot become the judge and jury, deciding what’s socially acceptable. Everyone looks and thinks differently. There will be bitter conflict and debate.

Sometimes tears need to be shed. Let the girl wear her jeans, admire the history professor for his bravery, question government action when warranted, and keep Bill Maher on the air.

Works Cited

Gergen, David. “Tending to the home front.” U.S News & World Report. 5 Nov. 2001: 84.

Leo, John. “Don’t tread on free-speakers.” U.S News & World Report. 5 Nov. 2001: 59.

Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. ABC. WSYX, Columbus. 17 Sept. 2001.


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