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Speech

The Concept of First Amendment and Free Speech Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Introduction

The US Constitution is widely considered to be a critical document that establishes individuals’ rights and freedoms. The first amendment of the Constitution states, “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” (“The Bill of Rights”).

This means that the laws of the United States shall not contravene people’s rights to exercise their religious beliefs and express themselves through speech freely. The amendment also restricts the control of the press and establishes people’s rights to peaceful protests and assemblies.

Main body

Personally, I do not think that free speech is a moral imperative. The first amendment prevents the government from punishing people for expressing their views and opinions. However, this does not mean that people should always voice their opinions and disregard other people’s feelings and beliefs while doing so. As a result of globalization and technological progress, we live in a connected environment with people from different generations, cultures, and religious backgrounds. The right to free speech, while supporting personal freedoms, can be used as an excuse for offensive comments that hurt others (Wermiel). Hence, there is a moral limit to free speech that should govern how and when people can exercise their right to free speech.

Conclusion

The legal limitations upon free speech primarily concern the cases when speech threatens particular individuals or population groups. For example, hate speech that incites violence towards specific religious groups is not protected by the US Constitution. The problems that arise in determining whether an act of speech is protected by the first amendment involve determining the speaker’s intent and possible consequences of a statement.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to these problems because intent and impact cannot always be evaluated objectively. However, the use of past precedents, jury voting, and linguistic analysis of speech can help to apply the law more accurately.

Works Cited

“The Bill of Rights & All Amendments.” The Constitution of the United States. N.d. Web.

Wermiel, Stephen J. “The Ongoing Challenge to Define Free Speech.” Human Rights Magazine. N.d. Web.

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