Freedom of Speech: My Version and Theirs

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Freedom of Speech: My Version and Theirs

The First Amendment has led Americans to believe in a hallowed sense of freedom that does not exist; freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in this country has never been absolute. You can't yell fire in a crowded theater, solicit bribes, make terrorist threats, slander another, intentionally inflict emotional distress or be obscene in public (Dickerson).

What Americans do have a right to is their opinion and the means by which to express it, no matter if the opinion is favorable or not. There are some advocates who champion for restrictions on unfavorable speech, like violent or racist remarks. And though the intentions behind such beliefs are made in good faith, it is unrealistic to believe the mission of filtering out racist speech could be completed without catching in the same net all kinds of other speech that is considered "OK" (Lawrence III 514). I firmly believe that a government that tells its citizens what is appropriate to say will soon be dictating what they may think also, and by that, it is unlawful for the government to regulate racist or violent speech. By doing so the government would intrude on students' creativity and learning process, would set illusive restraints on racist behavior, and undermine the Constitution at whole.

To begin, government censorship and the student learning process are an incompatible combination. In any efforts the government might make to protect students from bad ideas, the students are deprived of the right to make up their own minds and form opinions. They are also deprived of creative freedom if their work is reflected by the fear of being censored or punished for their writing. How will students learn to identify and cope with bad ideas or negative arguments if they are not exposed to them or allowed to expose their opinion on them? (Hentoff 517).

A case in Blaine, Wash., validates such a point. 16-year-old James Lavine was expelled because he wrote a poem. Though Lavine was never involved in much trouble in school, never showed a short-fused temper, never showed desire to inflict harm on animals or start fires, and never showed interest in weapons or bombs, Lavine was expelled because his poem described a murder (Tisdale).
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