Freedom of Speech When Americans Essay

Total Length: 2004 words ( 7 double-spaced pages)

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Which is the better course of action, Lawrence might ask himself. Should we censor the Westboro Baptist Church and forbid them their right to free speech, or should we allow them to express their wacky, and perhaps injurious views, and fight back with words of compassion, caring, and support. Just because we would like to make a knee-jerk, reactionary law and censor them does not make it the right thing or the better thing to do. Also, it doesn't get rid of the racist feelings of the Church members, and it's likely that they would not keep quiet, regardless of the law. An instructive example is Germany, where it is illegal to make Anti-Semitic comments. Just this month, fashion designer John Galliano was caught on tape making Nazi references and anti-Semitic comments. He has now been charged with a crime. The woman he was talking to at the bar was indeed Jewish, but she was not physically harmed by Galliano's remarks, and what good will the trial do in changing Galliano's mind about Jews? Obviously, the law didn't prevent him from making the comments in the first place, so I wonder at its efficacy. Laws in Germany have also not prevented the rise of neo-Nazi groups within the country, even though the laws had the absolute best intentions of preventing another rise in anti-Semitism that lead to the Holocaust. Ideas will still flow freely, however, and people will make their hate speech more private and secluded from the public eye. This does not lessen the degree or the amount of hate, however. Over the history of the United States, from the adoption of the Bill of rights through today, the censorship of American's right to free speech has been controversial. it's a delicate balance we strike when we aim to weigh the rights of free speech against the rights of those who may be harmed by vicious and racist speech. Each has rights, and taking from one does not inevitable protect the other. The students that Charles Lawrence wants to protect from hate speech are certainly sympathetic in their desires, and I sympathize with Lawrence desire to rid the campus of hate speech through censorship, but the price is just too high.

Works Cited

Larson, Aaron. "Defamation, Libel and Slander Law." Expertlaw.com. http://www.expertlaw.com/library/personal_injury/defamation.html. Web. Retreived on Marh 14, 2011.

Lawrence, Charles R. III. "The Debates Over Placing Limits on Racist Speech Must Not Ignore the Damage it Does to Its Victims." The Chronicle of Higher Education. October 25, 1989. http://www.brysons.net/teaching/csun/lawrence.pdf. Web. Retreived on March 14, 2011

Morton, Tom. "Shephard Funeral put Westboro Baptist Church on national map." Wyoming's Online News Source. http://trib.com/news/local/state-and-regional/article_f7ee0084-86e4-5cc1-b335-066a505a08ed.html. Web. Retreived on March 15, 2011.

Sherman, Mark. "Westboro Baptist Church Wins Supreme Court Appeal Over Funeral Protests." The Huffington Post. March 2, 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/02/westboro-baptist-church-w_n_830209.html Web. Retreived on March 14, 2011......

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