Boundaries To Free Speech Essay Examples
As a primary element of the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution guarantees every citizen the freedom of speech, but does not define it. Therefore, the task of defining the boundaries of free speck is widely left to citizens through a representative government that drafts laws as well as a judicial system that apply the laws to resolve various misunderstandings or disputes. While most Americans believe that free expression should have some limits, they do not agree on what constitutes speech and the necessary of applicable limits (Spark, Ford, and Mullen, 2015). Most recently, attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices raised fundamental issues about the boundaries of free speech. This essay will summarize the case, interpret the way freedom of expression helps us understand the case, and evaluate the outcomes or potential outcomes of the case.
Essentially, Charlie Hebdo is a weekly French magazine that specializes in publishing satirical magazines featuring reports, cartoons, jokes, and polemics. The magazine is not synonymous with the fights for the freedom of expression, especially after gunmen attached the magazines Paris offices and killed 12 staff (Spark, Ford, and Mullen, 2015). Based on unconfirmed accounts, the attacks occurred because of the treatment or depiction of an image of Mohammad is some of the organization’s cartoons. Specifically, the some of the attackers proclaimed that through their actions, they had avenged the prophet. Specifically, the attack was largely interpreted as an affront on the freedom of the press in general and of satire in particular. Most importantly, this incident prizes and underlines freedom of expression to a level many people consider extreme (Spark, Ford, and Mullen, 2015).
The theory or concept of free speech helps us understand this case in the sense it helps use define what free speech is and what it is not. In addition, through this concept we are able to learn understand some of the boundaries of free speech. Freedom of speech or expression refers to the right of every person or individual to hold views and convey ideas and information through different media platforms, irrespective of the frontiers. Owing to this case, various issues concerning the freedom of expression were brought to the fore. For example, the case enables people to understand that freedom of speech does not give people the right to say whatever they want. Essentially, people are also able to understand that the freedom of speech come with increased degrees of personal responsibility and accountability. Even though individuals are free to say and write what they want, they must be responsible for the emotions that they stir. Individuals who attacked Charlie Hebdo argued that the magazine exceeded its freedoms of speech by publishing images that offended Muslims and disgraced Prophet Mohammed (Bennett, 1996).
There is no doubt that the outcomes of the case will radically change the discourse or debate on freedom of expression. In addition, the case will definitely lead to the formation of mechanisms and percepts deigned to outline boundaries of freedom of expression, which are conducive to protect people’s democratic rights. However, it is important to underline that under the freedom of expression principles, no subject is untouchable, not even Christianity or Muhammad. In the Charlie Hebdo incident, the staffs do not see the satirical cartoons as inciting hatred, but as enhanced thinking that surpasses or overcomes conformism. Individuals should enjoy these freedoms responsibly (Bennett, 1996).
Bennett, L. W. (1996). “An introduction to Journalism Norms and Representations of Politics.” Political Communication, 41, 45-56
Spark, L., Ford, D., and Mullen, J. (2015). Charlie Hebdo attack: What we know and don't know. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from <http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/07/europe/charlie-hebdo- attack-summary/>