Does the government have the right to restrict public speech and expression This seems to be a controversial question, when it actually shouldn t be. The government wasn t formed to parent the youth of America by setting the guidelines of what is appropriate for them to hear, but to guarantee the rights provided by the Constitution of the United States. Americans don t pay taxes to keep people from hearing others opinions. Society is built by a collaboration of the people's morals, ideas, and opinions. The government is for the people and shouldn t try to impose what it sees as moral on society. Man was given the freedom of speech by the constitution and a person's voice and opinion should never be censored or restricted by the government.
First of all, the freedom of speech is clearly stated in the first amendment, to not be limitable by the laws of the government. Secondly, denial of the freedom of expression, sometimes, is denying minority views. The First amendment was created to protect minority's views (bfs 20). Free speech is also very important to society. This freedom gives people the initiative to be creative and unique. Lastly, the ability to freely express opinions helps to broaden the horizons of morality and explore the ideas of the opinion groups that exist all over the world.
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. (Gitelson A-9) according to the first amendment to the constitution of the United States. Although the laws of the constitution are made based on the interpretation of the constitution, there is not very many different way to interpret the freedoms of the first amendment that pertain to speech and expression. It blatantly states that it i unconstitutional for congress to make any laws that would in any way restrict the freedom of speech.
It seems that some laws may need to be evaluated on whether or not they limit any one-person freedom of speech. According to David Gothard, the freedom of speech should protect the opinion of minorities. This also applies to those opinions that the majority of society does not like to hear and may be offended by (20-21). Just because most of the people don t believe in a minority opinion doesn t mean that it is wrong.
Minorities have just as much right to express their disliked views, as majorities have to express their more popular views. Neither is right or wrong, but the government shouldn t deny a group their expression because it isn t as accepted by the others. Everyone is equally guaranteed public freedom of speech without government censorship. Unlimited freedom of speech is a large part of forming society. The public expression of opinions builds the common moral background of that society. When the government restricts people and groups from expressing their ideas, it changes the morality of that society, making it an inaccurate portrayal of the general moral ideas of the people.
Agreeably, Gothard states that if the government were not to interfere with our first amendment freedoms, it would make it much easier to be creative. This would encourage people to explore their personal ideas and feelings instead of being forced to follow the majority (21). One of the final benefits of an unaltered freedom of speech and the ability to express ones self is that is lets us realize the public issues and problems that exist. It can help by letting us hear and explore the other ideas and views that exist. We can become more knowledgeable about society.
It also helps to establish communication that might not otherwise exist. These communications may lead to solving some of the problem cause by conflict and disagreements between opposing groups. According to the Boundaries of Free Speech, Restricting speech will only stop discussion. The issues such as Racism and pornography will not go away.
(21) This shows that if action is needed to resolve issues, restricting speech is not effective. It seems that increasing speech may be a much more reasonable way to solve the problem. That way the problem is confronted instead of ignored. Speech is not what poses the problems of society. The problems exist no matter what.
By restricting speech the government is only taking away peoples ability to judge what is good and bad (Gothard 22). The basic idea of democracy is that a person will make a judgment, accept the good, and reject the bad. People do not need help from censors and the government. Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights.
This right affects every person, every day. It is one of the freedoms that make The United States the land of liberty, equality, and the free. Gitelson, Alan R., Duly, Dub nick. American Government. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. Gothard, David.
The Boundaries of Free Speech. Dubuque, Iowa: National Issues Forums Institute, 1991.