How Do We Justify Protecting Free Speech?

Posted on May 10, 2012 by

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The First Amendment reads “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 grievance.”

Knowing that speech can be used for hate, violence, libel, or slander, what are the reasons that we protect it?

  • Democracy and individual freedom require meeting places and channels for the exchange of information and ideas.
  • Speech leads to the discovery and spread of important truths.
  • Speech is essential to a representative government because political discourse is necessary for a democracy to function.
  • Free speech promotes political stability by providing a safety valve for dissent.
  • Free speech includes protection of literature because of its quality in enhancing political discourse.
  • Speech has an expressive purpose for individual liberty, autonomy, and self-fulfillment. Political systems are composed of individuals who, if able to fully realize themselves, are better for society and the political process.

What else would you add?

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Posted in: Courts, Miscellaneous