Good Example Of Argumentative Essay On Freedom Of Expression
Freedom of expression has been referred to as the milieu, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. It refers to the foundation of all other freedoms which are inherent in every human being. This freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment to the US constitution. The protection in the First Amendment involves but is not limited to free speech. It includes books, newspapers, leaflets and rallies. Works of art for instance T-shirt slogans, political buttons, music lyrics and even theatrical plays are also an important part of freedom of expression. The dedication of the government to protect this freedom has been tested on various occasions. This is particularly during national upheavals, and during war times. Citizens have found themselves fined or jailed when trying to exercise this right. The absoluteness of the freedom of expression and the permissible government limitations to this right have raises issues of constant controversy in the USA.
Although criticisms of government and the spread of detested ideas are acceptable; the freedom of expression is not an absolute right. There are exceptions which include the miller test for obscenity, children pornography laws, inciting lawlessness and the regulations on advertisements. The freedom is also subject to the law against the infringement of copyright rights, slander, and words that incite political intolerance and incitement of violence against particular groups of people. The government may limit speech by imposing time, place and manner restrictions. These restrictions encompass the requirement that permits are sought for meetings, rallies and demonstrations. However, these permits cannot be unreasonably withheld or denied based on the content of speech.
The major question is if at this time and age, there still has been a free speech problem in America. Freedom of speech in America encompasses certain issues including not saluting the flag, using offensive words to convey political messages, protesting against war, among others. Recent happenings in the media platform have shown that there is intolerance to the freedom of expression. For instance in Mexico, the magazine El Mananna was forced to change its operations due to the threats by Mexican cartels. A dozen of Mexican journalists disappeared from 2006 to 2012 and fourteen were reported killed. People were generally afraid to be interviewed for fear of kidnapping and killings. These events are a major setback to the freedom of expression.
The United States has considered itself a standard bearer for the freedom of expression but it is questionable if this self-proclamation is valid any more. With the rise of different disagreeing groups in the 21st Century, the delineating the line between free speech and hate speech has proved to be a major concern. These groups include political affiliations, religious faiths and even sexual orientations. The rise of gay movements and anti-gay groups are a good example. It is to be understood that not all free speech is good speech. The anti-gay groups may have their freedom of expression curtailed, because they cannot clearly state their anti-gay opinions as it is termed as hate speech. There is a dilemma on what is freely acceptable as expressing this freedom. The justification is that words hurt. Yet it is clear that this freedom enshrines in it, the right to disseminate information from an individual’s point of view although they are not universally accepted. Civil suits regarding hate speech continue to clog the courts as people argue over offensive statements that were not acceptable to the aggrieved parties. The antagonist groups have devised ways to make unpopular remarks against their groups specifically outlawed. The demand for tolerance of every group seems to be a problem in protecting speech because it demands banning of statements of dissenting opinions always termed as hate speech.
Religious views make a large part of this debate. Christians have had to endure publications that discredit their belief from writers such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Atheists and Antagonists freely air their opinions. It is unclear if this freedom to criticize is acceptable across other faiths. For instance, the Islam faith is rather intolerant to expression of ideas that criticize their faith. For instance, the case of Mann v. Steyn, involving Quran-burning, has to be decided. This intolerance is worse in the Middle East whereby Islam worshippers issue death threats and carry out mass killings for publications that draw cartoons of Mohammed or that have criticisms to parts of the Quran that propagate Jihadist ideas. A film produced in the US in 2012 insulting Islam provoked reactions all over the world leading to the death of more than fifty people including the US ambassador to Libya. The application of law to protect and limit the freedom has therefore been quite unsuccessful with regard to religious views and is causing international disunity and massive killings for innocent victims.
The freedom of expression is defined as the right of an individual to express whatever opinions, no matter how despicable, offensive or bizarre they may sound. The problem of the courts has always been striking a balance between what is actually protected speech and one that is not permissible. The principle that guides the courts in decision making is that the government has no right to put prior restrictions on an individual to speak. This is the law according to the first amendment of the USA Constitution. The adoption of the courts is to punish only the gravest abuses, endangering paramount interest. The issue, however, is when an abuse does become grave enough. Lord Russell of the Court of Appeal argues that too much liberty brings chaos and too little of it is a cause of stagnation. The balance, therefore, is the correct application of the freedom of expression. The application of this in cases of hate speech has become a major disagreement between judges in deciding cases.
A freedom is as good as its enforcement. Journalists have continued to suffer the implications of propagating unpopular ideas by losing their jobs or even their lives. In private sectors, American corporations have blacklisted employees for expressing unfashionable opinions. The protection of the freedom is under test. If there is commitment to freedom of speech, there should be no demand for professional punishment when a person makes a statement that is unacceptable. Obama says “the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression but it is more speech.” Repression is not the way to go, but it has been prevalent in the recent past. The solution lies with the law being made clear to protect the freedom while curbing extremist, provocative statements that do more harm than good.
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