Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech is found at the root of the United States government. The First Amendment of the Constitution, along with enumerating other freedoms, explicitly states freedom of speech as a right to people in the United States of America. According to the current interpretation of the Constitution, speech can only be restricted during times of “clear and present danger.”  Hate speech, one of the most contentious aspects of Free Speech is currently protected by the Constitution after multiple Supreme Court rulings.

Despite what is already protected, or not protected, by the First Amendment, many believe that the United States needs to begin to restrict some forms of speech, whether it be protests of the government or hate speech. For staunch supporters of the First Amendment, restricting any forms of speech, no matter how abhorrent it is, is sure to lead to the downfall of other freedoms and rights that were guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

We already know that free speech can be restricted in times of “clear and present danger” and hate speech is technically protected, but should it be?

Freedom of Speech

Point

Proponents of protected speech believe that there are some portions of freedom of speech that need to be specifically protected. For many, this means that hate speech can be included in the library of protected free speech. Many believe that protected speech should also include protests against the government in the form of burning the American flag, and wearing armbands protesting a war.

Counter

Opponents of protected speech believe that not all forms of speech should be legally allowed. For many in this camp, hate speech is not seen as a legal exercise of Free Speech and should be banned. Additionally, this camp believes that people should not be able to protest against the government in the form of flag burning or wearing armbands.