Speak Freely: Limits of Free Speech

Speak Freely: Limits of Free Speech

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Imagine yourself in a world where you could not say what you wanted, or express how you feel. Everyday thoughts that are said out loud like, “Man, this lesson is dumb” were no longer permitted to be anything other than thoughts. Many people in other countries have rules and regulations on what they can and cannot say. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution gives Americans the right to free speech (Lakoff 260). Learning to speak is something our parents praise us for when we are little. Why, after all the waiting time they endured, would parents let strangers decide what their child could or could not say. Censorship of language and speech is becoming too strict.
Although we have the right to freedom of speech there are some restrictions such as “fighting words” that are not permitted by the First Amendment. The essay “There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It's a Good Thing, Too” by Stanley Fish, contains information about the court case Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. The court declared in the Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire case that, “some forms of speech are not really speech because their purpose is to incite violence or because they are 'fighting words,' words likely to provoke the average person to retaliation, and thereby cause a breach of peace” (Fish 307) Chaplinsky was a Jehovah's Witness who got into a verbal argument with the town marshal. Chaplinsky was arrested and found guilty for calling the town marshal a “Goddamned racketeer” and a “damned Fascist” (Lakoff 264).
In the Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire case, the courts assumption was, “that some words are so very bad that on hearing them, an ordinary person must strike out (as reflexively as, when the doctor taps your knee with a hammer, you have to j...


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...ities in life and one of those is to realize when their thoughts and opinions are welcome and when they are not. These same people also know that they have the right to say what they want, they just should also know to have enough respect for the people to whom they are speaking. Everyone has rights and they should be able to keep them. Take advantage of your rights while you still have them.


Works Cited

Fish, Stanley. “There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It's a Good Thing, Too” Exploring Language. University of Oklahoma ed. New York: Pearson Custom, 2009. 304-16. Print.
Kors, Alan. “The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses” Exploring Language. University of Oklahoma ed. New York: Pearson Custom, 2009. 294-300. Print.
Lakoff, Robin. “Hate Speech” Exploring Language. University of Oklahoma ed. New York: Pearson Custom, 2009. 259-66. Print.

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