How Do We Justify Protecting Free Speech?

Posted on May 10, 2012 by


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?

Posted in: Courts, Miscellaneous