Free Speech Defining the Freedom Term Paper

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United States (1970), after a Vietnam veteran was arrested for wearing a jacket with those words into a courthouse. In principle, even speech that is "offensive" is considered to deserve protection, because the consequences of censorship are even more harmful to society than involuntary exposure to offensive words in public. The same right protects artistic expression as another form of speech. In many countries, offensive speech in public is prohibited by law and political speech that is critical of the government or of public officials is severely punished by imprisonment, and in some cases, (such as Iraq (prior to 2003), even torture. On the other hand, the Supreme Court has also ruled that certain "utterances," while technically defined as "speech," are justifiably excepted from the protections ordinarily afforded to "speech." Specifically, words that expose others to danger, such as shouting "Fire!" In a crowded theater are not protected constitutionally; nor are so-called fighting words," defined as statements that would be expected to incite a normal person to a violent response.
Finally, other types of defamatory statements are not regulated or controlled by the government, but they may give rise to civil lawsuits, particularly where they are untrue or spoken maliciously with the intention to cause harm or embarrassment to others. In most cases, truth is a defense to civil lawsuits for defamation. Still, our constitutional principles place such a priority on avoiding censorship, even untruths and words meant to offend are protected by the doctrine of free speech, nevertheless.


Dershowitz, a.M. (2002) Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age. New York: Little Brown.

Friedman, L.M. (2005) a History of American Law. New York: Touchstone. Haynes, C., Chaltain, S., Glisson (2006) First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America. London: Oxford University Press

Miller, a. (1989) Miller's Court.….....

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