Freedom of Speech vs. Censorship

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Freedom of Speech vs. Censorship

By | September 2013
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Freedom of Speech vs. Censorship
Adopted in 1791, the First Amendment, states “Congress shall make no law 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.” (Pilon) The freedom of speech documented in the First Amendment is not only a constitutional protection but also an inevitable part of democratic government and independence, which are essential values in society. “Censorship,” according to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “is an almost irresistible impulse when you know you are right” (Sunstein). That is why the American citizen’s right to free speech should be held as the highest virtue and any censorship of freedom of speech should not be allowed, however, should be respected. Freedom of speech is essential part of democratic government because the only way truth can emerge when there is an open competition of ideas. However, there is a strong support of censorship when people start mentioning extremely offensive opinions. Should the freedom of speech be limited in this case? The answer is “No”. “If liberty means anything at all,” writes George Orwell, “it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” (Cox) If we want to enjoy the freedom fully, the full protection should be given to the freedom of speech; there are no compromises about it. Freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment is not just a right, which can be declared or abolished. According to the “liberty theory,” proposed by some legal scholars, freedom of speech is an essential part of the liberty of every person who pursues an individual self-determination and self-realization (Cox). Thus, freedom of speech is also a global right one that permits freedom of personal development and self-expression. Another theoretical ground to support the freedom of speech is called “tolerance theory.” It holds that the ability to teach and promote tolerance is one of the most...