Symbolic Speech Should Be Protected

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Why Symbolic Speech Should Be Protected

1. The measure of a great society is the ability of its citizens to tolerate the viewpoints of those with whom they disagree. As Voltaire once said, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (Columbia). This right to express one's opinion can be characterized as “freedom of speech.” The concept of “freedom of speech” is a Constitutional right in the United States, guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution:

“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” (U.S. Constitution).

Because it is a Constitutional right, the concept of freedom of speech is hardly ever questioned. “On its most basic level [freedom of speech] means you can express an opinion without fear of censorship by the government, even if that opinion is an unpopular one” (Landmark Cases). However, the actions of Americans that are included under “free speech,” are often questioned. Many people support the theory of “free speech,” but may oppose particular practices of free speech that personally offend them. This hypocrisy is illustrated by the case of Neo-Nazis whose right to march in Skokie, Illinois in 1979 was protested by many, but ultimately successfully defended by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The residents of this predominantly Jewish town which contained many Holocaust survivors were offended by the presence of the Neo-Nazis. However, then ACLU Executive Director Aryeh Neier, who...

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...sday . 27 February 2003.<<>>

Pedulla, Tom. “Spurning anthem creates rancor.” USA Today. <<>>

“Texas v. Johnson.” (1989). “Landmark Supreme Court Cases.” <<>>

“Thomas Search Engine.” Library of Congress. <<>>

“Tinker v. Des Moines.” (1969). Landmark Supreme Court Cases. <<>>

“United States v. O'Brien.” (1968). <<>>

“U.S. Constitution.” << dments_1-10.html>>

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