Monday, November 27, 2023

Limits To Freedom Of Speech

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Introduction: Boundaries Of The Debate

What are the limits of free speech? | Big Think

The topic of free speech is one of the most contentious issues inliberal societies. If liberty of expression is not highly valued, ashas often been the case, there is no problem freedom of expression issimply curtailed in favor of other values. It becomes a volatile issuewhen it is highly valued because only then do the limitations placedupon it become controversial. The first thing to note in any sensiblediscussion of freedom of speech is that it will have to be limited.Every society places some limits on the exercise of speech because italways takes place within a context of competing values. In thissense, Stanley Fish is correct when he says that there is no suchthing as free speech . Free speechis simply a useful term to focus our attention on a particular form ofhuman interaction and the phrase is not meant to suggest that speechshould never be limited. One does not have to fully agree with Fishwhen he says , free speech in short, is not an independentvalue but a political prize but it is the case thatno society has existed where speech has not been limited to someextent. Haworth makes a similar point when he suggests that aright to freedom of speech is not something we have, not something weown, in the same way as we possess arms and legs.

The conclusion to be drawn is that the problem we face is decidingwhere, not whether, to place limits on speech, and the next sectionslook at some possible solutions to this puzzle.

What Does This Imply

Laura Beltz, author of the report and a senior program officer for policy reform at FIRE, said, Students and professors around the country face punishment for speech that is clearly protected by the First Amendment or a schools free speech promises.

Red light schools still make up at least half of FIRE-rated institutions in the District of Columbia and as well as seven other states: Alaska, Delaware, Illinois, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Although less restrictive than red light policies, yellow light schools still prohibit, or have a limiting effect on, constitutionally protected speech.

With online classes replacing in-person lectures this year, the study found nearly 200 public institutions imposing restrictions on online speech.

For example, a student at Stockton University in New Jersey faced six policy violations from the school, including harassment and cyberbullying charges, after he posted political content on social media. He also faced possible suspension until FIREs involvement forced the university to back down.

Weve offered to help every college in this report craft speech-protective policies, but most decided to carry on with their censorship, Beltz informed.

Is Calling Someone A Pedophile Within Your First Amendment Rights

Only if they actually are one and have been either legally convicted or medically classified as one.

The same goes for calling someone a sociopath or psychopath, other words like to throw at each other. Or when your angry ex goes around telling people you have aids.

Youre not protected by freedom of speech, if you are lying about someones mental health, criminal background, or medical status.

This is called slander if you say it and libel if you write it.

And while it wont land you in jail, you can be sued in civil court for defamation of character.

Freedom of speech does not protect you against falsely accusing someone of a crime or spreading lies about someone in order to hurt them socially or professionally.

On the topic of hurting people, youre also not allowed to actually say you are going to hurt someone.

Threatening statements are criminally illegal, even if youre joking.

In 2013, a League of Legends player named Justin Carter made a where he said he was going to shoot up a kindergarten and eat their still beating hearts.

He was arrested and charged with terroristic threatening, is still awaiting trial two and a half years later. He could face up to 8 years in prison if convicted.

Many people have claimed this was just a sarcastic joke taken out of context and that his charges are an infringement on freedom of speech.

The days of being anonymous on the internet are long gone.

You are accountable for what you say and can very easily be tracked down.

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Is The Language Of Duties Dangerous

The language of duties can be hijacked by those seeking to diminish the scope of rights. It is therefore natural for the language of duties to attract scepticism and suspicion. For example, the Asian values project advanced by political actors such as former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew relied on a language of duties as a means of deflecting concern for human rights . Moreover, in 2007 and thereafter, the UK witnessed a surge in interest among political actors to frame a new bill of rights and duties. The discourse enabled some political actors to call for the replacement of the UKs Human Rights Act of 1998 with a new bill that focuses both on individual rights and responsibilities. It is therefore natural for the language of duties to attract scepticism and suspicion. But as pointed out by Samuel Moyn, the need to guard against destructive ideas of duty is a poor excuse for ignoring beneficial liberal ones .

John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle

Jon Benjamin Quotes

Given that Mill presented one of the first, and still perhaps the mostfamous liberal defense of free speech, I will focus on his argumentsin this essay and use them as a springboard for a more generaldiscussion of free expression. In the footnote at the beginning ofChapter II of On Liberty, Mill makes a very bold statement:

If the arguments of the present chapter are of any validity, thereought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as amatter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may beconsidered.

This is a very strong defense of free speech Mill tells us thatany doctrine should be allowed the light of day no matterhow immoral it may seem to everyone else. And Mill does meaneveryone:

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one personwere of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified insilencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would bejustified in silencing mankind.

These are powerful claims for freedom of speech, but as I noted above,Mill also suggests that we need some rules of conduct to regulate theactions of members of a political community. The limitation he placeson free expression is one very simple principle , now usually referred to as the harm principle, which statesthat

the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over anymember of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harmto others.

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What Does Protected Speech Include

First Amendment protection is not limited to “pure speech” — books, newspapers, leaflets, and rallies. It also protects “symbolic speech” — nonverbal expression whose purpose is to communicate ideas. In its 1969 decision in Tinker v. Des Moines, the Court recognized the right of public school students to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. In 1989 and again in 1990 , the Court struck down government bans on “flag desecration.” Other examples of protected symbolic speech include works of art, T-shirt slogans, political buttons, music lyrics and theatrical performances.

Government can limit some protected speech by imposing “time, place and manner” restrictions. This is most commonly done by requiring permits for meetings, rallies and demonstrations. But a permit cannot be unreasonably withheld, nor can it be denied based on content of the speech. That would be what is called viewpoint discrimination — and that is unconstitutional.

When a protest crosses the line from speech to action, the government can intervene more aggressively. Political protesters have the right to picket, to distribute literature, to chant and to engage passersby in debate. But they do not have the right to block building entrances or to physically harass people.

Out Of 10 American Colleges Limit Freedom Of Speech: Report

Nine out of ten American colleges and universities maintain policies that restrict student expression in one way or another, a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found.

Founded in 1999, FIRE is a nonprofit which advocates for the rights of students and faculty members at Americas educational institutions. Every year, FIRE rates over 400 colleges and universities based on the degree to which these institutions control free speech and expression.

Schools are rated red, yellow, and green with red signifying the maximum threat to freedom of expression and green signifying the least.

New FIRE survey of campus speech policies:

88 percent of the 478 U.S. colleges surveyed have policies that restrict free speech.


This year, FIREs Spotlight on Speech Codes 2021 analyzed the written policies at 478 schools. While 102 schools earned the worst red light rating, a surprisingly high 312 received the yellow light rating, with a further 56 earning the green light rating.

A few world-renowned universities such as Princeton and Harvard also earned red light ratings.

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Is Political Speech Protected At School

Political speech is at the heart of the First Amendment and, thus, can only be prohibited if it substantially disrupts the educational process. In the present case, the majority acknowledged that the Constitution affords lesser protections to certain types of student speech at school or school-supervised events.

Freedom Of Speech / Freedom Of The Press

The Legitimate Limits to Freedom of Expression: the Three-Part Test

The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech may be exercised in a direct or a symbolic way. Freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without government interference or regulation. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. Generally, a person cannot be held liable, either criminally or civilly for anything written or spoken about a person or topic, so long as it is truthful or based on an honest opinion and such statements.

A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message. The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place.

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What Is The Meaning Of Freedom Of Speech First Amendment

The Constitution of United States guarantees the freedom of speech to every citizen of this country with the objective to provide right to express ones feelings and opinions without any fear by means of words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode of such time because of this reason that freedom of speech is considered as the most fundamental condition of liberty.

Freedom of speech is the integrity of a democratic governance and it has leaked hate to people to speak, give opinions without any fear of restrictions, attribution or representation by the government.

Freedom of speech helps people to organize and strengthen their hostile, societal and political stance and also help others to become a responsible citizen of this country but when the freedom of speech becomes straight for the country or defamatory then it is big dangerous therefore for the security purpose through First Amendment the reasonable restrictions have been imposed.

Freedom of Speech, its the first part of the first amendment.

And it means Im allowed to say whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want.


Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of the America and has since been adopted by countless other countries. But its also one of the most misunderstood, and lets face it, abused rights that we have.

So today, lets take a look at what the First Amendment actually says and what Freedom of Speech actually is

So thats it right?.

You can say whatever it is you want.

What Are The Limits Of Freedom Of Speech

< divers alarums, noises off etc>

The tricky bit is that if you are a socialist and/or a feminist, there are limits to freedom of speech but they arent limits on who can speak, or what they can say. Its more complex than that.

I think its like this: freedom of speech is first and foremost something you have to allow to others.

If youre white, you have no right to get noisily offended by people who arent white objecting to white supremacists, even if they sound very angry.

If youre a man, you have no right to get noisily offended by people objecting to sexism, even if they are shouting.

If you are mature, you have no right to get noisily offended by young people who havent realized something yet, however inexpertly they put their case.

If you are young and have all your faculties, you have no right to get noisily offended by the rantings of people who are elderly and/or disabled, even if you are feeling insecure.

If you were born to own a house and get a decent education, if you know where next months rent money is coming from, if you have wrangled your way to a position where you have nothing dreadful to fear from losing your job, or angering someone who has power over your income and safety, then you have no right to get noisily offended by anything anyone says when they havent got a clue how theyre going to stave off hunger, homelessness or violence from one day to the next. You have no right to be offended, even if they sound scary.

Even if they swear a lot.

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Lying In Many Circumstances Is Not Protected Speech

Lying under oath is perjury, a criminal offense. It is not protected speech under the First Amendment. Lying to investigators, charged by a government agency to investigate a crime, is also a criminal offense without Constitutional protection. We have all read about financiers or businessmen going to prison for lying to federal investigators. Martha Stewart is an example most people remember. She went to prison for lying about her stock trading during a federal investigation. Dishonest or bogus advertising can also lead to prosecution. Although deceptive advertising is a pervasive problem in our society, if you can pin down the perpetrator, it can be prosecuted as a crime.

On the other hand, politicians and other public figures have considerable leeway in bending the truth to suit their own interests. Most of us recognize political rhetoric for what it is, a pack of lies designed to promote the candidates agenda. You may not like it, but it is protected speech under the law.

Examples Of Speech That Is Protected By The First Amendment

Should there be limits on the extent on freedom of speech, where the ...

Now, lets discuss a few examples of speech that is protected by the First Amendment. You have the right, through your actions, to refrain from speech. We are not talking about your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. We are talking about the types of actions people use as protest. For example: you dont have to salute the flag you have the right to take a knee during the National Anthem. You have the right to use offensive words and phrases to communicate a political message. Students have the right to wear black armbands at school to protest a war. People have the right to engage in symbolic speech like burning the flag in protest. You have the right to advertise your professional or commercial services. All these rights have been established through litigation and decisions by the United States Supreme Court.

Free speech and a free press are essential to our democracy. In the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall as she paraphrased Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

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Does Freedom Of Speech Apply To Corporations

Federal Election Commission : Buckley ruled that political spending is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech, while Citizens United ruled that corporate political spending is protected, holding that corporations have a First Amendment right to free speech because they are associations of citizens

Mills Harm Principle And Hate Speech

Another difficult case is hate speech. Most liberal democracies havelimitations on hate speech, but it is debatable whether these can bejustified by the harm principle as formulated by Mill. One would haveto show that such speech violated rights, directly and in the firstinstance. I am interested here in hate speech that does not advocateviolence against a group or individual because such speech would becaptured by Mills harm principle. The Public Order Act 1986 in theU.K. does not require such a stringent barrier as the harm principleto prohibit speech. The Act states that A person is guilty ofan offence if he displays any writing, sign or other visiblerepresentation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within thehearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm ordistress.

It should be noted that Section 18C is qualified by Section 18D . 18D says that

section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or donereasonably and in good faith: in the performance, exhibition ordistribution of an artistic work or in the course of anystatement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for anygenuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuinepurpose in the public interest or in the making or publishing: a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of publicinterest or a fair comment on any matter of public interest ifthe comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the personmaking the comment

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