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Sample Essay Freedom Speech

Free speech is a massive step in human civilization. The ability to say something without fear of persecution and/or death is a big step in human society and is something that only around fifty countries have. My essay is about free speech in US colleges and how it is rapidly declining at a frightening rate.

In the case of Sweezy vs. New Hampshire in 1957 the Supreme Court said, “Teachers and students must always remain free to enquire, otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.” Many would agree with that statement and consider it true, but in modern US colleges there is a massive restriction on free speech to the point where the comment made by the Supreme Court no longer applies in some places in the US. The US colleges are literally removing free speech from our futures by stamping it out in through what they teach younger people.

In 2010, there was a study by the Association of American colleges and universities. They found that over 70% of college students found it unsafe to hold unpopular positions on campus. This means they may have had opinions and thoughts about issues, but they did not feel safe expressing their thoughts in college.

Another troubling element of the 2010 is that the longer the student spends in the college, the less safe he or she feels about holding and expressing unpopular opinions. If we were to blame outside influences, then students would enter and leave college either as safe or unsafe as they like. However, it is clear that the longer a student spends in college, then the more restricted and repressed his or her freedom of speech is. The freshmen students feel safer using their freedom of speech, but they begin to feel less safe as they move through college.

To clarify, the feeling of safety is safety from repercussions and not from physical harm. The students feel safe from harm in college, but they do not feel safe from the penalization from professors. They feel uneasy about expressing their unpopular positions or opinions within their work and dissertations, and they do not feel as if they are free to speak their true feelings and opinions because they fear they will be marked down and/or looked upon unfavorably by the people that control their grades and ability to get their qualifications.

What is more worrying is the fact that colleges and universities in the US are blatantly restricting student’s freedom of speech. They claim they do it to help avoid people getting offended, which further proves the point that freedom of speech is less important to these colleges that the fear of people being offended. To cast freedom of speech aside for any reason, noble or not, is to shatter its very foundation and urinate in the faces of the people that died for it.

Speech codes are a common and blatant sign that students are having their freedom of speech restricted. The colleges and universities are not even hiding the fact that their speech codes are regulations that limit or bans expression. It literally says that in their regulations.

Conclusion

The first amendment in the US constitution states implicitly that people are allowed to speak and write what they wish, and yet colleges and universities are disregarding it when they set use speech codes. Yet, what is it that colleges are protecting students from? If it were from people writing instructions on how to build a bomb, then one could argue that the protection of life is more important than freedom of speech.

Yet, all of the speech codes in US colleges and universities are there to stop people writing or saying things that the college/university in question feels are offensive. They usually revolve around religion or political views. Colleges and universities in the US are banning students from speaking, writing and even holding opinions that contradict what the college likes, and that is a blatant middle finger to a US citizen’s freedom of speech.

In the century of democracy, globalization and multiculturalism, people have much wider opportunities that it was a hundred years ago. Freedom, as a right and as a value, has drastically changed the view of society, its pains and needs. As almost a constitution of any country states, “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”, as well as regulative laws provide protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech and thoughts. For example, the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law. . . abridging the freedom of speech. . .” (Hunsaker 25-35).

Freedom is the most fundamental duty of every person in the world. Freedom of views and speech is the most important type of interaction as without sharing there would be no history and science at all. Liberty of words shows the power especially in politics or government. Most importantly, everyone has right to think and act without causing harm or authority of any other individual.

The freedom of speech can be defined as the right of a person to express thoughts, ideas, and personal opinions through a desired media without any restrictions, just so long that these actions do not infringe on the rights of another person or national security. Free expression has been entrenched in our hearts as an unwritten law since time immemorial, even before formal recognition by any authority (Ringen 36-39).

However, free expression has also a negative effect on society. Of course the freedom of expression, like every freedom, is linked with responsibility: whoever infringes on the human rights of others with his or her freedom of expression must be held accountable. For example, in 2005 a Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published a group of cartoons containing satirical images of the Prophet Mahommed. As Islamic communities around the world immediately found out about the issue with the cartoons and it caused many passionate expressions of distress and anger, largely on two grounds: because Muslim belief does not accept pictorial representations of the Prophet and because the fact that the publication associated Muslims with terrorism. Later on, in 2015, a French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo has been the target for terrorist attack due to the numerous satirical and atheistic controversial Muhammad cartoon publications. As the result, 12 people died and many were injured (Sturges 181-188).

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Ability to think and act accordingly defines humans between other live creatures on the Earth. Nowadays, the level of democracy and wide freedom of speech over the world provides endless opportunities for people to share the knowledge, thoughts and ideas. In fact, mass media is the best instrument for the society to exercise its right to freedom of expression.  The idea of a free, independent, plural, and diversified media has become the ideal to be achieved in order to fully ensure the right to seek, receive and impart information.

However, mass media without any regulation can significantly hurt the society. Therefore, media regulation started its development in order to guarantee, promote and protect the right of free expression. In fact, the main mission for regulating mass media and internet should be to protect and deepen the freedom of speech.

However, the freedom of expression can conflict with other basic and human rights. For example, under certain circumstances, the insult or disparagement of a person constitutes a prohibited violation of human dignity. That is why it is important to regulate defamation. Defamation is the publishing of a statement regarding a person’s reputation to the effect that the statement lowers the person in the estimation of right thinking members of the society. The essence of defamation law is actually to control expressions which injure people’s reputation without any justification (Hunsaker 25-35).

To sum up, freedom of speech has many exceptions and is not defined just as it is stated. We have yet to find the perfect medium between freedom and regulation of speech that would be suitable for everyone.


Works cited:
Hunsaker, David M. “Freedom And Responsibility In First Amendment Theory: Defamation Law And Media Credibility”. Quarterly Journal of Speech 65.1 (1979): 25-35. Web.
Ringen, Stein. “Liberty, Freedom And Real Freedom”. Soc 42.3 (2005): 36-39. Web.
Sturges, P. “Limits To Freedom Of Expression? Considerations Arising From The Danish Cartoons Affair”. IFLA Journal 32.3 (2006): 181-188. Web.

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