Freedom of speech in history
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
George Washington: “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter.”
Controversy over freedom of speech is not a new subject, history has debated this issue since The Bill of Rights was passed in 1790 protecting the right to freedom of speech, press assembly, and the freedom to redress grievances by petition. Obviously citizens have talked about this even earlier as they endured trecherous voyages in order to find freedom in a new land.
Freedom of speech is crucial to a healthy democratic society. It enables our citizens to present different opinions to the government rather than having the government dictate to the people. It promotes truth, contributes to ideas, and establishes a common ground. It is a check and balance system that unearths corruption and censorship. It protects citizens from a government gaining too much power and/or brainwashing the people. Freedom of speech gives power back to the people. Our forefathers knew that you cannot retain order through fear. Fear breeds hate. Americans love their country because they have a voice. It can be argued that humans are born with the need to express themselves. In order to be fulfilled, they must be able to state their opinions in word and creativity.
Freedom of the press is extremely important to provide citizens a variety of information on which to base decisions and keep informed. Unfortunately, in recent years, some of the press tend to spin news in one direction. Some say that they are now bought and sold. Many private citizens have been invaded in private settings by an overly aggressive press. The government is not allowed to prevent publication of a newspaper, even if it believes national security will be endangered. Likewise, the government is not allowed to mandate what a newspaper must publish. If the material in a newspaper is truthful, the government is not allowed to prosecute the publication and they are not allowed to force the publication to reveal its sources.
Changes in society can only happen if freedom of speech is allowed. Free speech helped women obtain their rights, abolish slavery, and improve horrific working conditions, to name a few.
Free speech works two ways: speaking and listening. Healthy disagreements are essential for change to happen. There is rarely only one side to a story. Most ideas offend someone, somewhere. If you can speak in a healthy way, show clear examples to back up your statements, and then sit back and listen to the opposing view, you may come together to make a change.
Some educational institutions seek to silence ideas – this is not a healthy approach to a free society. Every view must be heard in order for all to decide the best way to move forward. All sides of the story must be allowed to be told. When organizations try to prevent opposing views from being heard, that is approaching tyranny. We cannot gain wisdom and insight from only one view.
Some think that free speech is just an excuse to be offensive. There will always be those who use whatever means they can to be offensive. Most people can see through these types of people and they will not be respected and only others of the same mindset will listen. I like to call these people disrupters. I feel as if they have nothing of value to say so they try to create chaos to distract. These types of people are looking for power, not solutions.