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 grievances.
The first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America can often be taken for granted. In many third-world countries, the idea of freedom of speech is in the back of people’s minds, but almost never brought to the forefront of issues facing the country and government. In recent years, this has become especially evident in the Middle East. In the United States, we are shown a display of the harsh authoritative rule of governments over their people in the Middle East, reminding us of how lucky we are to have freedom of speech and media to express our views, no matter how unpopular they are.
When the Constitution was first drafted, the conception of anything remotely close to the Internet was in no one’s mind. Freedom of speech, as it were, pertained to the media (i.e., newspapers, magazines, etc). Only recently with the widespread expansion of the Internet, has the value of freedom of speech really been seen. People from any walk of life can post their opinions in this medium, where it can be seen by anyone else in the world. In the United States, there is not much of an ideological shift here because basically anything that could be said before the Internet can be said with the Internet. Of course there are some exceptions when it comes to war-time, but for the most part we see freedom of speech being taken to its full advantage.
In the Middle East, and specifically in Iran, there has never been anything like th...
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... it the most. However, with new Iranian web sites popping up almost everyday in Iran as well as in the United States, it is impossible to stop.
Babak Rahimi, Cyberdissent: The Internet in Revolutionary Iran, 2003, Middle Eastern Review of International Affairs, Volume 7, No. 3, September 2003,
Haleh Nazeri, Imagined Cyber Communities, Iranians and the Internet, 1996, New York University, December 1996,
Lydia Heller, Iran: Anonymity of the Internet Fosters Freedom of Expression, 2003, Deutsche Welle, July 15 2003,
Reporters Without Borders, Conservatives muzzle the Internet during elections, February 24 2004,
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