Monday, December 4, 2023

Do We Really Have Freedom Of Speech

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Case Study: Poland And The Right To Protest

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Amnesty International has documented how people in Poland have taken to the streets to express their opinions despite restrictive legislation combined with heavy-handed policing, surveillance, harassment and prosecution which threaten to strangle the right to peaceful protest.

Since 2016, tens of thousands of people have protested against repressive legislation aimed at curbing womens rights and undermining the independence of the judiciary. Protesters have routinely been met with a show of force and restrictive measures that infringe their right to be seen and heard. Hundreds have found themselves in police custody and facing lengthy court proceedings.

In parallel with tightening the laws affecting the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the government has vastly expanded the surveillance powers of law enforcement agencies with evidence that these expanded powers have been used against people engaged in organizing and participating in peaceful protests.

The United States Free Speech Laws

In the United States, free speech refers to the First Amendment Rights in the Constitution.

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no lawrespecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercisethereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right ofthe people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redressof grievances.”

United States law allows people the right to practicereligion freely, speak freely, for the press to speak freely, and for people toassemble or petition peacefully. These rights are foundational to the way theUnited States works, and they were exceptional when the founding fathers wrotethem into the constitution.

Still, they are not without controversy and are often called into question when other people feel that speech is harmful, offensive, or dangerous.

What The Law Says

This text is taken directly from the Human Rights Act.

Article 10 of the Human Rights Act: Freedom of expression

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Example case – Observer and The Guardian v United Kingdom

The Guardian and The Observer newspapers published excerpts from Peter Wrights book Spycatcher, which included allegations that MI5 had acted unlawfully.

The government obtained a court order preventing the newspapers from printing further material until proceedings relating to a breach of confidence had finished.

The European Court of Human Rights said that the court order was lawful because it was in the interests of national security.

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Sample Remarks For In

At we value your right to participate in expressive activity that challenges orthodoxy and pushes boundaries. We hope that you will do this in a respectful manner, as civility makes it possible to engage in discussions that are truly meaningfuldiscussions in which we really listen and learn from each other.

The reality, however, is that not all interactions are respectful, and thats as true on campus as it is in the community at large. You may experience discourse that will ruffle feathers or outright offend you or some of your peers. That may happen in meeting rooms, on the quad, or in social media posts directed at you or your friends.

Many decades of litigation have firmly established that the vast majority of speech, however offensive, is protected by the First Amendment. But it is important for you to understand the limits to your rights not just here on campus as students, but also as citizens in our broader community. While the First Amendment protects most speech, it is not a free pass to threaten, harass, or otherwise violate the rights of others.

In this next video, youll get an overview on three categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment.


Government Prohibitions Can Suppress Hateful Ideologies

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With rising incidences of hate-motivated crimes in the United States and hateful speech proliferating online, there are increasing calls for the government to tamp down on bigoted expression. In a Washington Post op-ed, Richard Stengel pushed for state governments to adopt hate speech statutes to curb the incitement of racial and religious hatred. Critical race theorists have long argued that reinterpreting the First Amendment to allow for more robust regulation of hateful speech would help ensure a more tolerant and equal society.

But recent history indicates that such legal prohibitions are ineffective in stamping out bigotry. In the United States, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic vitriol, among other categories of hateful expression, are protected speech Germany bans such sentiments. The Anti-Defamation League reported a disturbing 12 percent rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the United States from 2018 to 2019, and Germanys Interior Ministry recorded an almost identical jump of 13 percent in the same time frame. Meanwhile, the European Unions efforts to expunge hateful speech from online platforms have driven its purveyors underground, to shadowy niche sites and networks where they can recruit while shielded from the prying eyes of law enforcement.

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What Are We Allowed To Say In A School Paper

Keep in mind – private schools have more leeway to set their own rules on free expression than public schools do.

It depends on whether the school is paying for producing the paper. If it is a completely student-run paper that you want to hand out in school, the school may not censor what you say or stop you from handing it out as long as the paper is not “indecent” and you do not “materially and substantially” disrupt school activities. The same rule applies to leaflets or buttons that you have created and paid for.

In the official school paper, however, you might have a problem publishing an article that discusses important but controversial issues like sex education, condom distribution, or drug abuse. That’s because of a 1988 Supreme Court decision, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. It said public school administrators can censor student speech in official school publications or activities — like a school play, art exhibit, newspaper or yearbook — if the officials think students are saying something “inappropriate” or “harmful” even if it is not vulgar and does not disrupt.

Some states — including Colorado, California, Iowa, Kansas and Massachusetts — have “High School Free Expression” laws that give students more free speech rights than the Constitution requires. Check with your local ACLU to find out if your state has such a law.

What Is Important To Know About Free Speech Rights On Social Media

The rise of social media has given new importance to protecting free speech. People are often able to stay anonymous when they say things â not necessarily a bad thing, especially in places where criticizing the government can put you or your family in danger. Or when you want to seek help for a private medical issue. But social media allows people to use anonymity to bully, harass, intimidate or stalk people.

Social media also gives everyone a platform. Again, this is not an inherently bad thing. It not only allows anyone to share their ideas, but connects us faster and cheaper, allowing us to exchange ideas and create things. But it also gives people the ability to easily spread disinformation that can cause harm both to individuals and society as a whole.

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Should Free Speech Always Be Protected

As long as people live together in a society, the right tofree speech will cause tension. Sometimes speech is so offensive or potentiallydamaging to people that it is natural to want to shut down its negativeeffects. On the other hand, the United State’s freedom of speech laws isprecious and revolutionary at their inception.

The debate continues. Is freedom of speech worthprotecting in every scenario, or are there times when freedom of speech causesmore harm than it is worth?

Paternalistic Justification For Limiting Speech


Mill, for example, is an opponent of paternalism generally, but hedoes believe there are certain instances when intervention iswarranted. He suggests that if a public official is certain that abridge will collapse, he can prevent a person crossing. If, however,there is only a danger that it will collapse the public can be warnedbut not coerced from crossing. The decision here seems to depend onthe likelihood of personal injury the more certain injury becomes,the more legitimate the intervention. Prohibiting freedom of speech onthese grounds is very questionable for liberals in all but extremecases because it is veryrare that speech would produce such a clear danger to theindividual.

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Using This Right Example

This right is particularly important for journalists and other people working in the media.

They must be free to criticise the government and our public institutions without fear of prosecution this is a vital feature of a democratic society.

But that doesn’t prevent the state from imposing restrictions on the media in order to protect other human rights, such as a person’s right to respect for their private life.

Countries With Freedom Of Speech 2022

Freedom of speech is the right for an individual or community to express any opinions without censorship or restraint and without fear of retaliation or legal sanction. Despite its name, freedom of speech is not specifically limited to verbal communicationrather, it also includes other forms of expression, such as written communication, social media posts , the arts , personal actions , and so on. To reflect this broader definition, freedom of speech is often referred to as freedom of expression.

Freedom of speech is a right preserved in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and formally granted by the laws of most nations. In practice, however, some countries protect free speech, some deprioritize it, and some outright suppress it. Freedom of speech is protected in many of the freest countries in the world but is often restricted in totalitarian countries, communist countries, fascist countries, and dictatorships. Free speech can also be taken too far. An ongoing debate exists about where to draw the line between free expression and offensive, threatening, or harmful content. Particularly in the age of social media, when freedom of speech can be viewed as permission to spread damaging misinformation, bully others, and promote hate and intolerance, concerns have arisen over whether free speech can sometimes cause more harm than good.

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What Are The Limits Of Freedom Of Speech

We already discussed some of the reasons why a government might restrict the right to freedom of expression, so we already know that it has some limitations. Our open step from the University of Bristol explores the slightly different limitations stated in South Africa, which restricts advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion.

However, it is also worth mentioning that freedom of speech and expression has limitations depending on the specific context youre in. For example, even though it is your human right to express yourself freely, doing so at work in a way that insults or negatively affects your boss or colleagues could impact your career. Essentially, its often inappropriate to speak freely if it infringes on someone elses freedoms.

In a similar vein, experts from the University of Oslo and the Scholars at Risk Network explore the challenges and curbs to academic free speech which can occur in academic environments, including those where human rights or legal violations may not be a factor. You can find out more about this in our Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters course.

The Aclu And What It Stands For

Freedom Of Speech Quotes

The ACLU is an organization dedicated to defending therights to free speech.

The ACLU was established in the early 1920s in response to the United State’s reaction to rising fears of communist radicals. In the year 1919, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer took the initiative to round up individuals believed to be radicals. According to the ACLU, “Thousands of people were arrested without warrants and without regard to constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure. Those arrested were brutally treated and held in horrible conditions.”

The event, now known as the “Palmer Raids,” inspired a small group of people to establish a group called the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has been defending the right to free speech ever since.

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Why Is Freedom Of Expression Important

The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets out in broad terms the human rights that each of us has. It was later protected legally by a raft of international and regional treaties.

Defending freedom of expression has always been a core part of Amnesty Internationals work and is vital in holding the powerful to account. Freedom of expression also underpins other human rights such as the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and allows them to flourish.

It is also closely linked to freedom of association the right to form and join clubs, societies, trade unions or political parties with anyone you choose and freedom of peaceful assembly the right to take part in a peaceful demonstration or public meeting.

However, these very freedoms come under regular attack by governments that want to stifle criticism.

For example, in Egypt it is currently extremely dangerous to criticize the government. Over the course of 2018, the authorities arrested at least 113 individuals citing a host of absurd reasons including satire, tweeting, supporting football clubs, denouncing sexual harassment, editing movies and giving interviews.

What Is The Definition Of Free Speech

There are a number of varying definitions of free speech, but at its core, its about the legal right to express or seek out ideas and opinions freely without fear of censorship or legal action. Freedom of speech is a part of freedom of expression, which means that individuals have the right to express themselves in whatever way they wish.

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Free Speech On Campuses

Free speech on campus has been a growing debate in recent years. A debate has been sparked because of disinvited speaking guests from both left and right leaning groups, and because administrators and students are advocating for speech codes at universities.

Should college campuses limit free speech, and do theyhave the right to do so? There are many different instances when free speech oncampus may come into question. Many of these instances stem from issues ofrace, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and politics.

Some people argue that students, especially minorities,should not be subjected to hate speech and microaggressions that make them feeluncomfortable or unsafe in their place of learning. Others argue that freespeech should not be limited in any way because it threatens the rights of allpeople.

Some people even argue that due to neurodiversity, it’s not possible for all people to follow strict speech codes. The argument is there are many brilliant minds who may not follow or comply with normal social standards would be missed because of overly strict limitations on speech. As an example, someone who is on the Autism spectrum may not be allowed to speak to a college campus, despite the valuable knowledge they could impart, because of their inability to conform to strict speech expectations.

The Debate Rages On Is Free Speech Unlimited Can Anyone Say Anything And Not Be Held Accountable What Does God Think Of Free Speech

Does free speech exist? BBC News

In the news, we hear of provocative speech. We hear of hate speech. Many feel that it is a God-given right to be able to say anything to anybody. The fact is that in the United States, the Bill of Rights of the Constitution specifically allows for freedom of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has protected and supported that freedom time and time againno matter what was being said.

Yet some speech is very disturbing. Many of us would not agree with what some people are saying. However, if there is a limitation on what they can say, where is their freedom to speak? And even though people have the right to say anything they wantis it appropriate to say?

What does God think about all this controversy? He is the One who actually gave us the ability to speak and to communicate in the first place. No other creature on earth can do that.

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Democratic Citizenship And Hate Speech

To argue the case above, one has to dilute one’s support for freedomof expression in favor of other principles, such as equal respect forall citizens. This is a sensible approach according to Stanley Fish.He suggests that the task we face is not to arrive at hard and fastprinciples that prioritise all speech. Instead, we have to find aworkable compromise that gives due weight to a variety of values.Supporters of this view will remind us that when we are discussingfree speech, we are not dealing with it in isolation what we aredoing is comparing free speech with some other good. We have to decidewhether it is better to place a higher value on speech than on thevalue of privacy, security, equality, or the prevention of harm.

Fish suggests we need to find a balance in which we mustconsider in every case what is at stake and what are the risks andgains of alternative courses of action . Is speechpromoting or undermining our basic values? If you don’t askthis question, or some version of it, but just say that speech isspeech and that’s it, you are mystifyingpresenting as anarbitrary and untheorized fiata policy that will seem whimsicalor worse to those whose interests it harms or dismisses .

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