09 Dec 2012
Ethical Issues with the Constitution
Freedom of Speech is a negative concept when applied to immoral circumstances. “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press …” as defined by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America (U.S. Constitution). The majority of democratic governments around the world are adopting similar doctrine to solidify the principles of their governmental structures (Hodges 3). One prime example, Canada, has followed the lead of the United States and granted citizens freedom of speech with untold limitations on its usage. These limitations have been implemented based on overwhelming abuse of the freedom of speech, especially when viewed from the angle of its use in cyberspace. Unfortunately freedom of speech is inherently a global issue because of the rapid accessibility and the relevance in today’s society (Hodges 5). In response, Canada and the United States are becoming exceedingly cautious and implementing various preventative techniques (Sim). When viewing the ethical and moral issues involved with materials in cyberspace, it’s a reasonable assumption that “free” should not be truly free and additional measures should be placed in order to monitor inappropriate activity. To comprehend the entire scope of free speech in cyberspace, a person must understand the basics of the right defined in the Constitution. Free speech is commonly defined as “the right to express any opinion in public without censorship or restraint by the government” (Hodges 3). This right, as seen daily in general media outlets, has been abused to an unparalleled capacity. In order to censor this material, the government has circumvented its own regulations and casually designed loopholes (Hodges 5). The Fourteenth Amendment dictates the right to state and local governments of free speech in government sanctioned schools, colleges, and universities (Harvard Law Review). However, private schools are exempt from this concept, yet, in order to fall in line and maintain compliancy, they often adopt the policy whether it’s on their own or from pressure of state governments (Harvard Law Review). The important concept to take from the idea of public and private is that they can be misconstrued. In the public realm for example, free speech extends to magazines and public areas. In contrast, if presented in a private sector, free speech can be greatly censored due to restrictions implemented by the area or organization (Harvard Law Review). In the fall of 1981, the Canadian Government guaranteed freedom of expression under their form of the Constitution, known as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Shallit). However, due to the unrestricted free flow of immoral information, Canadian courts utilize Section 1 of the Charter, which states that “all rights are subject to such reasonable limits as can be justified in a free and democratic society” in order to help validate their need to stifle material (Sims). This imposed legislation dictates that freedom of expression is only protected against censorship by government action, allowing editorials, collegiate facilities, and various organizations the sole rights to control information in their distinct areas (Hodges 5). Much like the United States, freedom of speech, based on the circumstances is not entirely free. One main question to consider is: how is freedom of speech affected by cyberspace? Cyberspace is defined as an electronic computer network in which online communication takes place (Hodges 2). This design allows persons from all walks of life and all areas of the globe to communicate almost instantly. This ability, almost immediate message trafficking, creates a tremendous issue for governments attempting to restrict materials shared. Anything can be found in cyberspace, from “how much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck...
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