Free Speech

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Free Speech “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” These words were spoken by Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s founding fathers, when the United States was still a newly independent country. Free speech, which is defined as the right to express any opinion in public without censorship or restraint by the government, is a subject that is still present in the minds of many people today. At one extreme of the spectrum is a group of folks that do not care the slightest bit about free speech issues and at another end is a group of people who will vehemently fight to protect their right to free speech. In a middle ground, like most peoples’ stance, lay a large group of individuals who only take notice and take action regarding such issues when they become personally affected. Only when a person is confronted directly with someone or something that limits their actions or ability to express themselves do they begin to realize just how much they take the right to free speech for granted. And not only is free speech threatening issues becoming more common today, but the age at which individuals come across these threats to free speech is getting even younger. It is starting quite early for today’s children as they are becoming well acquainted with perhaps the most widespread but least recognized threat to our free speech, internet content filters. According to the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility’s (CPSR) Frequently Asked Questions on filtering, a content filter is one or more pieces of software that work together to prevent users from viewing material found on the Internet and is described by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a software mechanism for... ... middle of paper ... ...ob at actually restricting access to inappropriate material and rather do a much better job at blocking beneficial resources. First and foremost the issue of government-imposed internet content blocking must be addressed. Once a solution to that has been applied, then the use of filters in general can be tackled. The solution to this can best be summed up by the following quote from the National Research Council’s book, Youth, Pornography, and the Internet, “Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks, put up fences, and deploy pool alarms. All these measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing that one can do for one’s children is to teach them to swim.” Once parents address the issues through communication with their children, there will be much less of a need for the “filtering” software on the market today.

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