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Your voice matters. You have the right to say what you think, share information and demand a better world. You also have the right to agree or disagree with those in power, and to express these opinions in peaceful protests.

Exercising these rights – without fear or unlawful interference – is central to living in an open and fair society; one in which people can access justice and enjoy their human rights.

Yet governments around the world routinely imprison people – or worse – for speaking out, even though almost every country’s constitution refers to the value of ‘free speech’.

Governments have a duty to prohibit hateful, inciteful speech but many abuse their authority to silence peaceful dissent by passing laws criminalizing freedom of expression. This is often done in the name of counterterrorism, national security or religion. More recently, freedom of expression has come under threat by authorities clamping down on activists, NGOs and individuals helping refugees and migrants.

How governments tolerate unfavourable views or critical voices is often a good indication of how they treat human rights generally.

Amnesty International supports people who speak out peacefully for themselves and for others – whether a journalist reporting on violence by security forces, a trade unionist exposing poor working conditions or an indigenous leader defending their land rights against big business. We would similarly defend the right of those who support the positions of big business, the security forces and employers to express their views peacefully.

We consider anyone put in prison solely for exercising their right to free speech peacefully to be a prisoner of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release.

Why is freedom of expression important?

Press freedom.

The digital frontier

The solution: what is amnesty calling for.

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 International’s 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.

Those arrested have been accused of “membership of terrorist groups” and “disseminating false news”. Detained without trial for months, those who eventually faced trial were sentenced by military courts, even though military trials of civilians, in Egypt as elsewhere, are inherently unfair.

A group of police restrain a man and load him into a police vehicle

A free press reporting on the issues that interest us and shape our lives is a key building block of any rights-respecting society. Yet in Azerbaijan, Türkiye and Venezuela to name just a few countries, journalists face repression and attacks.

In June 2019,  Tanzania’s parliament  fast-tracked the passing of the Written Laws Bill, which would entrench censorship, among other violations. Journalists in the country already operate within the tight confines of a media law that requires media houses to “broadcast or publish news or issues of national importance as government may direct”.  

In July 2019, the libel trial began in the Philippines against  Maria Ressa , the executive editor of online news outlet Rappler. Ressa, a prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested in February 2019 on trumped up libel charges after Rappler published detailed investigations into some of the thousands of extrajudicial executions committed by police and unknown armed persons, with Duterte’s explicit encouragement, during drugs-related operations. Her case is widely seen as an attack by the government on press freedom.

During conflict, repression can get worse, such as in  Myanmar  where journalists investigating the killing of Rohingya men and boys by security forces in Rakhine State were arrested and jailed, before being freed under international pressure.

Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech, or freedom of expression, applies to ideas of all kinds, including those that may be deeply offensive. While international law protects free speech, there are instances where speech can legitimately restricted under the same law – such as when it violates the rights of others, or, advocates hatred and incites discrimination or violence.

However, any restrictions on freedom of expression must be provided by law, protect certain public interests or the rights of others and, be clearly necessary for that purpose. .

In 2018, Amnesty International published research that found that  Twitter is a platform where violence and abuse against women flourish , often with little accountability. Instead of the platform being a place where women can express themselves freely and where their voices are strengthened, Twitter leads women to self-censor what they post and limit their interactions. As a company, Twitter is failing its responsibility to respect women’s rights online by inadequately investigating and responding to reports of violence and abuse in a transparent manner.

The digital world gives many more of us access to the information we need, including to challenge governments and corporations. Information is power and the internet has the potential to significantly empower the world’s seven billion people.

But freedom of expression today still often depends on wealth, privilege and our place in society. Those who are rich and powerful are seldom restricted in expressing their views.. Similarly, those who have their own laptops with broadband, have far greater access to information than those who have to walk miles to an internet café.

Increasingly, some states try to build firewalls around digital communications, or in the case of Egypt, Sudan and Zimbabwe among others, respond to mass street protests with an internet shutdown. Iran, China and Viet Nam have all tried to develop systems that enable them to control access to digital information. In India’s northern Kashmir region, mobile Internet and communications are suspended in response to any unrest. At Amnesty International, we are continually finding new ways to stop our website being blocked in China.

Governments are also using dangerous and sophisticated technologies to read activists and journalists’ private emails and remotely turn on their computers’ camera or microphone to secretly record their activities. In 2014, Amnesty and a coalition of human rights and technology organizations launched ‘ Detekt ’ – a simple tool that allows activists to scan their devices for surveillance spyware.

What is Amnesty doing to protect the freedom of expression?

Case study: poland and the right to protest.

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 women’s 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.

Case study: Surge in Vietnamese prisoners of conscience

In 2019 ,  Amnesty released shocking research showing that the number of prisoners of conscience unjustly jailed across  Viet Nam  had sharply risen by a third in signs of a growing crackdown on peaceful activism by lawyers, bloggers, human rights defenders, environmental activists and pro-democracy campaigners.

The prisoners’ detention conditions remain appalling with evidence of people being tortured and otherwise ill-treated, routinely held incommunicado and in solitary confinement, kept in squalid conditions and denied medical care, clean water and fresh air.

Many prisoners of conscience were jailed for comments made on social media platforms and were targeted using the vague and overly broad provisions of the penal code.

One prisoner of conscience is Tran Hoang Phuc. A pro-democracy and environmental activist, he was arrested in June 2017. Tried and convicted on charges of ‘conducting propaganda against the state’ for making and sharing videos perceived to be critical of the government on social media, he was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by four years under house arrest.

Learn more about Freedom of Expression

Take our Human Rights Academy course, Speaking out for Freedom of Expression, to learn more and take action.

Related Content

Belarus: sentencing of human rights defenders a ‘blatant retaliation’ for their work, colombia: the national police must be comprehensively reformed, egypt: drop bogus case against egyptian human rights group, sri lanka: authorities must exercise restraint in use of force and facilitate the right to peaceful assembly, south sudan: authorities must clarify fate and whereabouts of detained critic.

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freedom of speech

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freedom of speech , right, as stated in the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States , to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content. A modern legal test of the legitimacy of proposed restrictions on freedom of speech was stated in the opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Schenk v. U.S. (1919): a restriction is legitimate only if the speech in question poses a “clear and present danger”—i.e., a risk or threat to safety or to other public interests that is serious and imminent . Many cases involving freedom of speech and of the press also have concerned defamation , obscenity , and prior restraint ( see Pentagon Papers ). See also censorship .

Human Rights

The ongoing challenge to define free speech, by stephen j. wermiel.

Freedom of speech, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo declared more than 80 years ago, “is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.” Countless other justices, commentators, philosophers, and more have waxed eloquent for decades over the critically important role that freedom of speech plays in promoting and maintaining democracy.

Yet 227 years after the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified  in 1791 as the Bill of Rights, debate continues about the meaning of freedom of speech and its First Amendment companion, freedom of the press.

This issue of Human Rights explores contemporary issues, controversies, and court rulings about freedom of speech and press. This is not meant to be a comprehensive survey of First Amendment developments, but rather a smorgasbord of interesting issues.

One point of regular debate is whether there is a free speech breaking point, a line at which the hateful or harmful or controversial nature of speech should cause it to lose constitutional protection under the First Amendment. As longtime law professor, free speech advocate, author, and former American Civil Liberties Union national president Nadine Strossen notes in her article, there has long been a dichotomy in public opinion about free speech. Surveys traditionally show that the American people have strong support for free speech in general, but that number decreases when the poll focuses on particular forms of controversial speech.

The controversy over what many call “hate speech” is not new, but it is renewed as our nation experiences the Black Lives Matter movement and the Me Too movement. These movements have raised consciousness and promoted national dialogue about racism, sexual harassment, and more. With the raised awareness come increased calls for laws punishing speech that is racially harmful or that is offensive based on gender or gender identity.

At present, contrary to widely held misimpressions, there is not a category of speech known as “hate speech” that may uniformly be prohibited or punished. Hateful speech that threatens or incites lawlessness or that contributes to motive for a criminal act may, in some instances, be punished as part of a hate crime, but not simply as offensive speech. Offensive speech that creates a hostile work environment or that disrupts school classrooms may be prohibited.

But apart from those exceptions, the Supreme Court has held strongly to the view that our nation believes in the public exchange of ideas and open debate, that the response to offensive speech is to speak in response. The dichotomy—society generally favoring free speech, but individuals objecting to the protection of particular messages—and the debate over it seem likely to continue unabated.

A related contemporary free speech issue is raised in debates on college campuses about whether schools should prohibit speeches by speakers whose messages are offensive to student groups on similar grounds of race and gender hostility. On balance, there is certainly vastly more free exchange of ideas that takes place on campuses today than the relatively small number of controversies or speakers who were banned or shut down by protests. But those controversies have garnered prominent national attention, and some examples are reflected in this issue of Human Rights .

The campus controversies may be an example of freedom of speech in flux. Whether they are a new phenomenon or more numerous than in the past may be beside the point. Some part of the current generation of students, population size unknown, believes that they should not have to listen to offensive speech that targets oppressed elements of society for scorn and derision. This segment of the student population does not buy into the open dialogue paradigm for free speech when the speakers are targeting minority groups. Whether they feel that the closed settings of college campuses require special handling, or whether they believe more broadly that hateful speech has no place in society, remains a question for future consideration.

Few controversies are louder or more visible today than attention to the role and credibility of the news media. A steady barrage of tweets by President Donald Trump about “fake news” and the “fake news media” has put the role and credibility of the media front and center in the public eye. Media critics, fueled by Trump or otherwise, would like to dislodge societal norms that the traditional news media strives to be fair and objective. The norm has been based on the belief that the media serves two important roles: first, that the media provides the essential facts that inform public debate; and, second, that the media serves as a watchdog to hold government accountable.

The present threat is not so much that government officials in the United States will control or even suppress the news media. The Supreme Court has probably built enough safeguards under the First Amendment to generally protect the ability of the news media to operate free of government interference. The concern is that constant attacks on the veracity of the press may hurt credibility and cause hostility toward reporters trying to do their jobs. The concern is also that if ridicule of the news media becomes acceptable in this country, it helps to legitimize cutbacks on freedom of the press in other parts of the world as well. Jane E. Kirtley, professor and director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota and past director for 14 years of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, brings her expertise to these issues in her article.

Other current issues in our society raise interesting free speech questions as well. It is well-established  law that the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee only applies to government action. It is the government— whether federal, state, or local—that may not restrict freedom of speech without satisfying a variety of standards and tests that have been established by the Supreme Court over the past century. But the difference between government action and private regulation is sometimes a fine line. This thin distinction raises new questions about freedom of speech.

Consider the “Take a Knee” protests among National Football League (NFL) players expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling during the National Anthem. On their face, these protests involve entirely private conduct; the players are contractual employees of the private owners of the NFL teams, and the First Amendment has no part to play. But what could be more public than these protests, watched by millions of people, taking place in stadiums that were often built with taxpayer support, debated by elected politicians and other public officials, discussed by television commentators because of the public importance of the issue. That is not enough to trigger the application of the First Amendment, but should it be? First Amendment scholar David L. Hudson Jr., a law professor in Nashville, considers this and related questions about the public-private distinction in his article.

Another newly emerging aspect of the public-private line is the use of social media communications by public officials. Facebook and Twitter are private corporations, not government actors, much like NFL team owners. But as one article exams in this issue, a federal court recently wrestled with the novel question of whether a public official’s speech is covered by the First Amendment when communicating official business on a private social media platform. In a challenge by individuals who were barred from President Trump’s Twitter account, a federal judge ruled that blocking access to individuals based on their viewpoint violated the First Amendment. If the ruling is upheld on appeal, it may open up an entire new avenue of First Amendment inquiry.

One aspect of current First Amendment law is not so much in flux as in a state of befuddlement. Courts have long wrestled with how to deal with sexually explicit material under the First Amendment, what images, acts, and words are protected speech and what crosses the line into illegal obscenity. But today that struggle that has spanned decades seems largely relegated to history because of technology. The advent of the relatively unregulated Internet has made access to sexually explicit material virtually instantaneous in the home without resort to mailed books and magazines or trips to adult bookstores or theaters.

In his article, law professor and First Amendment scholar Geoffrey R. Stone elaborates on much of the legal and social history and current challenges in handling sexually explicit material, drawing on his own 2017 book, Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century .

If there is a unifying theme in the articles in this issue of Human Rights, it may be that while as a nation, we love our freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press, we are never far removed—even after more than two centuries—from debates and disputes over the scope and meaning of those rights .

Stephen J. Wermiel is a professor of practice of constitutional law at American University Washington College of Law. He is past chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and a current member of the ABA Board of Governors.

The views expressed here are the author's and do not reflect those of the ABA Board of Governors.

123helpme freedom of speech

Freedom Of Speech In Malaysia Essay

Free speech allows and protects everyone to talk and express themselves without any restrictions. Freedom of speech is the fundamental liberties in order to build a democracy country. Democracy cannot be existed without freedom (Sharma, 2016). Every country have their own laws regarding to restrict freedom of speech. In Malaysia, there are 3 clauses regarding to freedom of speech. Subject to Clauses (2), (3) and (4) --- (a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression; (b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms; (c) all citizens have the right to form associations ("FEDERAL CONSTITUTION", 2010). In the relevant Part of Article 10(2) (a) Parliament may restrict freedom of speech and expression which …show more content…

In this essay, the author

In federal constitutional monarchy, the head of the country is belong to Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (King) while Prime Minister is the head of government. The Federal Constitution divide the law -making authority of Malaysia into legislative authority, judicial authority and executive authority (Noordin, 2016). The responsibly of legislative authority is create and embellish law. There is a bicameral parliament system under legislative branch which has upper house (Dewan Negara) and lower house (Dewan Rakyat) respectively. Moreover, judicial branch is consisting judges and magistrates. In executive branch, Agong is the most powerful person (The Commonwealth, 2016). In Malaysia, there are three laws that restricted hate speech which is Sedition Act, OSA and Defamation Act. Sedition Act 1948 is an act to punish sedition. A "seditious tendency" is an excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government (Malaysian Legislation, n.d). In regard to LBGT issue in Malaysia, homosexual acts involving either men or women is punished by whip and up to a 20-year prison in Malaysia’s law (Erasing 76 Crimes, …show more content…

Hate speech was frequently expressed openly in the public sphere especially through social media and it will cause a serious consequences if it is not managed well. According to Kate Mayberry, transgender in Malaysia are currently facing a daily risk of attack just for being themselves. Transgender in Malaysia are still waiting for the court decision to accept them as a normal person (Mayberry, 2014). Hate speech about LGBT in Malaysia always attack and offense transgender. LGBT has been fighting for years for their legalization in Malaysia. Activists who oppose with the government are attacked by the authorities under the Sedition Act (Leach, 2015). For instance, Nisha Ayub, a LGBT rights activist who used to win a Human Rights Watch Award was arrested under an anti-crossdressing law by a Sharia court. Nisha Ayub claimed that strict Islamic law had force her to attempt suicide several time. She said that people treat her in a way like she do not have any human rights and dignity. She was suffered from hate speech attack in Malaysia for almost every day (Borneo Post Online, 2016). On the other hand, Hazim Ismail, who admitted he is a gay and an atheist is facing public backlash in Malaysia, which is his home country. Hazim Ismail was disowned by his family because his

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Elon Musk Is Right That Twitter Should Follow the First Amendment

A long history of free-speech jurisprudence backs him up.

An illustration of a bird carrying a scrap of the Constitution

Elon Musk, in his effort to buy Twitter , signaled that under his ownership, the company would allow all speech that the First Amendment protects. “By ‘free speech,’ I simply mean that which matches the law,” he tweeted on April 26 . “I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.”

Many commentators were quick to point out that, as a private company, Twitter is not required to follow the First Amendment, which applies only to federal and state governments. And Musk has further been criticized by those who fear that harmonizing Twitter’s content rules with First Amendment doctrine would lead to an explosion of hate speech, misinformation, and incendiary statements, content that Twitter currently moderates.

This deregulatory approach would make Twitter an outlier among the social-media companies; at the moment, Twitter, like Facebook and Google, has chosen to adopt content rules stricter than First Amendment standards. Facebook, for example, prohibits “hate speech” or “attacks,” which it defines as “violent or dehumanizing speech, harmful stereotypes, statements of inferiority, expressions of contempt, disgust or dismissal, cursing and calls for exclusion or segregation.” By contrast, the First Amendment generally protects hate speech unless it is intended, and likely, to cause imminent injury. Twitter’s current definition of “hateful conduct,” although narrower than Facebook’s, still falls short of First Amendment standards.

But Musk’s position is, in fact, convincing. Although private companies are not required to follow the First Amendment, nothing prevents them from doing so voluntarily. And in Twitter’s case in particular, there are strong reasons to believe that the First Amendment should presumptively govern. All four of the main principles that have historically guided the Supreme Court in interpreting the First Amendment apply just as powerfully to social-media platforms as they do to governments.

Derek Thompson: Elon Musk buying Twitter is weird, chaotic, and a little bit awesome

What are these First Amendment first principles? Justice Louis Brandeis expressed all four in his opinion in Whitney v. California , a 1927 case that involved a woman convicted of making a speech at a Communist Party meeting in support of anti-lynching laws. Here is Brandeis’s crucial paragraph, in which he drew heavily upon Thomas Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” :

Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.

Based on these four principles—freedom of conscience, democratic accountability, discovery of truth, and democratic self-government—Brandeis articulated the First Amendment test that the Supreme Court would later adopt in 1969: The government can regulate speech under the First Amendment only when the speech is intended, and likely, to cause imminent and serious injury. Intent, imminence, and severity are crucial components of this test. (Twitter currently forbids accounts whose “primary purpose is inciting harm toward others” and could continue to prohibit and remove imminent threats, targeted harassment, defamation, and other speech that can be defined as illegal under a rigorous First Amendment standard.)

As Brandeis explained in Whitney :

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression of free speech there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the danger apprehended is imminent.

Brandeis’s test was based on his Jeffersonian faith in the power of what he called “free and fearless reasoning” to expose falsehood through public discussion. “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education,” Brandeis wrote, “the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. Only an emergency can justify repression.” As a result, the United States Supreme Court now protects free speech more vigorously than any other judiciary in the world.

Brandeis’s faith in reason—and his four justifications for protecting all speech not intended to and likely to cause violence—is being questioned in our social-media age. Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms have accelerated public discourse to warp speed, creating virtual versions of the mob. These companies are based on a business model that’s now being called “enrage to engage.” Inflammatory posts based on passion travel further and faster than arguments based on reason. Because of this, some critics are suggesting that America’s free-speech tradition should be reconsidered or amended.

Read: Elon Musk already showed us how he’ll run Twitter

These arguments are unpersuasive, and Musk is correct to reject them. In fact, all four of Brandeis’s arguments weigh heavily against any central authority, whether government or Twitter, exercising the power to monitor free speech. Let’s consider each in turn.

1. Freedom of conscience is an unalienable right because people can think only for themselves.

If freedom means anything, it is the freedom to “develop our faculties,” Brandeis wrote in Whitney , by which he meant our faculties of reason and deliberation. Brandeis and Jefferson rightly believed that freedom of conscience is, by definition, an unalienable right, one that can’t be surrendered or alienated to government or private actors, because our opinions, as Jefferson wrote in the draft of his Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, “follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to [our] minds.” We can’t give anyone—presidents, priests, teachers, or social-media magnates and their content monitors—the power to tell us what to think, even if we wanted to, because we are endowed as human beings with the capacity to reason and therefore can’t help thinking for ourselves. And a crucial element of thinking for ourselves is deciding for ourselves what evidence is proper for us to consider. Once a public or private regulator gets in the business of deciding which opinions are true or false, or what kind of information is good for people to access, that regulator infringes on the right of all individuals to form opinions with what Jefferson called “the illimitable freedom of the human mind.”

2. Free speech makes representatives accountable to We the People.

As Brandeis wrote, in a democracy “the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary.” This requires people to be able to speak truth to power. The right of the people to criticize all political figures, and the right of political figures to communicate with the people, is crucial to a functioning democracy. Jefferson and James Madison attacked the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which criminalized criticism of the Federalist president John Adams, but not of the Republican vice president Thomas Jefferson, on the grounds that favoring some politicians over others infringed on people’s right “of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed, the only effectual guardian of every other right.”

For this reason, Musk is correct to question lifetime bans of politicians such as Donald Trump , which are administered in a way that discriminates based on viewpoint, which First Amendment doctrine explicitly forbids. Trump has been banned permanently from Twitter while other leaders who have tweeted similarly inflammatory statements that arguably fall short of the legal standard for incitement have not been deplatformed, such as Ayatollah Khamenei’s tweets calling for the eradication of Israel. The possibility of viewpoint discrimination inherent in giving social-media platforms the power to ban some public officials but not others means that Musk is right to embrace the position that the new Facebook free-speech advisory board has reached as well: Temporary time-outs are acceptable, but lifetime bans are not.

3. Free speech is the best way to ensure the “discovery and spread of political truth.”

Brandeis and Jefferson had faith in the power of reasoned deliberation to distinguish truth from error over time. As Jefferson put it, “We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” At the moment, Twitter empowers its content monitors to flag “misinformation,” defined as tweets that lack “context.” But this vague standard has been applied to take down posts that later turned out to be true. Referring to Twitter’s decision to suspend the New York Post for tweeting articles about Hunter Biden that eventually proved to be accurate, Musk rightly tweeted that “suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.”

Read: The Elon Musk placebo effect

Ever since the English philosopher John Milton, in Areopagitica , denounced the censorship of books as inappropriate because identifying censors infallible enough to consistently and reliably distinguish truth from error would be impossible, free-speech defenders have recognized that truth must ultimately emerge bottom-up from public discussion among the people, rather than top-down from a paternalistic (and possibly self-interested) regulator. Free citizens in a liberal democracy shouldn’t trust any centralized authority—public or private—to make decisions about what books, music, and other content they can safely be exposed to.

4. Free speech allows the public discussion necessary for democratic self-government.

Jefferson and Brandeis believed that in a democracy, all citizens have an equal right and responsibility to exercise their freedom of conscience. When social-media platforms presume to decide in advance what sorts of political candidates or information are safe for the people to evaluate, they deny the people their right to make that decision on their own. In the process, they weaken the public’s ability to make the political choices that are the foundation of a functioning democracy.

Elon Musk’s position that Twitter should abide by the First Amendment is a radical one—at the moment, no other major social-media platform, with arguably the exception of Reddit, has chosen voluntarily to embrace First Amendment standards. But for the reasons Jefferson and Brandeis recognized, Musk is entirely correct. It doesn’t matter whether the president or a prominent social-media company is presuming to tell us what to think or restricting the information we receive in the interest of protecting us. In the end, all of us have a right and a responsibility to “think as [we] will and to speak as [we] think,” as Brandeis put it. In other words, we have no choice but to think for ourselves.

What Employee Speech Is Protected in the Workplace?

Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.

What Employee Speech Is Protected in the Workplace?

Employees don't have a constitutional right to free speech at work, but employers still need to be aware of federal and state laws that do protect workers' speech in certain situations.

The First Amendment guarantees citizens the protection of free speech from intrusion by the federal government, explained Grant Alexander, an attorney with Alston & Bird in Los Angeles. "The First Amendment does not apply to private actors, and employers are private actors."

Thus, government employees do have some First Amendment protections. "Employees working in the private sector often [don't understand] that the constitutional First Amendment right to free speech applies to government employees but not employees working for businesses," said Christopher Olmsted, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in San Diego.

But that doesn't mean that businesses can curb all employee speech. For instance, private-sector employees have the right to engage in concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This applies to workers in both union and nonunion settings.

The NLRA protects employees' right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment, said Steve Hernández, an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg in Los Angeles. For example, workers are protected if they discuss their wages with each other, decide they're not being paid enough and seek raises from their employer.

Employees also have the right to talk about possible unlawful conduct in the workplace. Under various federal laws, employees may complain about harassment, discrimination, workplace safety violations and other issues. "However, employees don't have the freedom or right to express racist, sexist or other discriminatory comments where such comments constitute violations of these laws," Olmsted noted.

Social Media

Employers should be mindful of how social media and policies affecting the use of social media interact with employee rights, Alexander said. In certain states, employees have the right to engage in lawful conduct when they are off the clock, and that may impact how social media policies are crafted and implemented, he added.

[SHRM members-only toolkit:  Managing and Leveraging Workplace Use of Social Media ]

Employers must also be careful not to run afoul of the NLRA when disciplining employees for their social media activities, Hernández noted.

An employee's posts on social media platforms might be considered protected concerted activity if the employee is discussing working conditions and other labor relations matters. In recent years, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and courts have found that social media posts might be protected even if they contain profanities or sound disloyal to the business.

Thus, employers should ensure that their social media policies and practices can't be reasonably perceived as restricting such discussions.

Now that the NLRB has a Republican majority, it has shifted a bit in its stance to a more employer-friendly position, Hernández noted. But employers still can't stop workers from discussing the terms and conditions of their employment, he said.

State laws may also enhance workers' rights to discuss certain topics. State laws protecting lawful off-duty conduct vary, so employers should check the laws in their states to see what is covered.

Although private employers may regulate political speech in the workplace without violating the Constitution, some state laws specifically protect political expression. In California, employees cannot be discriminated against based upon their political affiliation or political activity, Alexander noted. However, the protection does not necessarily give employees a right to speech in the workplace, he added.

In Oregon, the Worker Freedom Act prohibits employers from forcing workers to attend political meetings and distribute political communications.

Most states have a presumption of at-will employment, which means either the employer or the worker can terminate the employment for any lawful reason, but employers should be mindful that employees still have certain rights in the workplace that cannot be curbed, Alexander said. 

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What Does Free Speech Mean?

Among other cherished values, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court often has struggled to determine what exactly constitutes protected speech. The following are examples of speech, both direct (words) and symbolic (actions), that the Court has decided are either entitled to First Amendment protections, or not.

The First Amendment states, in relevant part, that:

“Congress shall make no law...abridging freedom of speech.”

Freedom of speech includes the right:

Freedom of speech does not include the right:

Disclaimer: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for use in educational activities only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on legislation. 

DISCLAIMER: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for educational purposes only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on any pending case or legislation.

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Federal Communications Commission

The FCC and Speech

The FCC has limited legal authority to act on complaints relating to the content of television or radio programming.

What is the FCC's responsibility?

The limitations on the FCC's power to restrict or ban speech begin with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which decrees that the federal government "shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Accordingly, Congress through Section 326 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 326, explicitly declared that nothing in the statute

shall be understood or construed to give the Commission the power of censorship over the [broadcast] communications or signals transmitted by any [broadcast] station, and no regulation or condition shall be promulgated or fixed by the Commission which shall interfere with the right of free speech by means of [over-the-air] broadcast communication.

Pursuant to these legal mandates, the FCC has long held that "the public interest is best served by permitting free expression of views." Rather than suppress speech, communications law and policy seeks to encourage responsive "counter-speech" from others. Following this principle ensures that the most diverse and opposing opinions will be expressed, even though some views or expressions may be highly offensive.

Nevertheless, what power the FCC has to regulate content varies by electronic platform. Over-the-air broadcasts by local TV and radio stations are subject to certain speech restraints, but speech transmitted by cable or satellite TV systems generally is not. The FCC does not regulate online content.

The FCC does impose certain restraints and obligations on broadcasters. Speech regulations are confined to specific topics, which usually have been identified by Congress through legislation or adopted by the FCC through full notice-and-comment rulemaking or adjudicatory proceedings. These topics include:

(Click on the linked text for additional information on these topics.)

What are the broadcasters' responsibilities?

Individual radio and television licensees are responsible for selecting all broadcast content that their stations air. This includes both entertainment programming and news/informational programming, whether the broadcaster actually creates the content or acquires it from third-party program producers. Broadcasters also decide how their programs, including call-in shows, will be conducted and whether or not to edit or reschedule programs or material (e.g., moving a potentially indecent program to a late-night time slot when few or no children may be in the audience).

What if I have comments or concerns about a specific broadcast?

All comments and/or concerns about a specific broadcast should first be directed to the broadcast stations and networks involved. They can best address your concern.

If you are dissatisfied with the broadcaster's response, you may file a complaint with the FCC. The fastest way to submit your complaint is through the agency's online complaint portal for consumers, accessible here . The FCC reviews all complaints for possible violation of its rules, but consistent with the First Amendment, only those that fall within the narrow scope of a particular regulation might lead to investigation and sanction. After an investigation, the FCC may take enforcement action on any violation found.

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The FCC and Speech (pdf)

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Essay on Freedom of Speech in English Free PDF download

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Download Important English Essay on the Topic - Freedom of Speech Free PDF from Vedantu

One of the fundamental rights of the citizens of India is ‘Freedom of Speech’. This is allowed to the citizens by a lot of countries to empower the citizens to share their own thoughts and views. This freedom of speech essay is for students of class 5 and above. The language used in this essay is plain and simple for a better understanding of the students. This freedom of speech essay example will help the students write a paragraph on freedom of speech in their own words easily.

Long Essay on Freedom of Speech

The phrase “Freedom of Speech” has been misinterpreted by some individuals who either do not actually understand the meaning of the phrase completely or have a totally different agenda in mind altogether. Every democratic country gives its citizens this freedom. The same is guaranteed by the Constitution of India too. Irrespective of your gender, religion, caste, or creed, you are guaranteed that freedom as an Indian. The values of democracy in a country are defined by this guaranteed fundamental freedom. The freedom to practice any religion, the freedom to express opinions and disagreeing viewpoints without hurting the sentiments or causing violence is what India is essentially made up of.

Indians stand out for their secularism and for spreading democratic values across the world. Thus, to save and celebrate democracy, enforcing freedom of speech in India becomes a necessity. Freedom of speech is not only about the fundamental rights, it’s also a fundamental duty to be done by every citizen rightfully so as to save the essence of democracy.

In developed democracies like the US, UK, Germany or France, we see a “freedom of speech” that is different from what we see in authoritarian countries like China, Malaysia or Syria and failed democratic countries like Pakistan or Rwanda. These governance systems failed because they lacked freedom of speech. Freedom of press gives us a yardstick to gauge the freedom of speech in a country. A healthy, liberal and strong democracy is reflected by a strong media presence in a country, since they are supposed to be the voice of the common people. A democracy that has a stomach for criticisms and disagreements is taken in a positive way. 

Some governments get very hostile when faced with any form of criticism and so they try to oppress any voices that might stand against them. This becomes a dangerous model of governance for any country. For example, India has more than hundred and thirty crores of population now and we can be sure that every individual will not have the same thought process and same views and opinions about one thing. A true democracy is made by the difference of opinions and the respect people have for each other in the team that is responsible for making the policies.

Before making a choice, all aspects and angles of the topic should be taken into consideration. A good democracy will involve all the people - supporters and critics alike, before formulating a policy, but a bad one will sideline its critics, and force authoritarian and unilateral policies upon all of the citizens.

Sedition law, a British-era law, was a weapon that was used in India to stifle criticism and curb freedom of speech during the pre-independence era. Through section 124A of Indian Penal Code, the law states that if a person with his words, written or spoken, brings hatred, contempt or excites tension towards a government or an individual can be fined or jailed or fined and jailed both. This law was used by the Britishers to stifle the freedom fighters. Today it is being used by the political parties to silence criticism and as a result is harming the democratic values of the nation. 

Many laws in India also protect the people in rightfully exercising their freedom of expression but the implementation of these laws is proving to be a challenge. Freedom of speech cannot be absolute. In the name of freedom of speech, hatred, tensions, bigotry and violence too cannot be caused in the society. It will then become ironically wrong to allow freedom of speech in the first place. Freedom of speech and expression should not become the reason for chaos and anarchy in a nation. Freedom of speech was stifled when article 370 got revoked in Kashmir. Not that the government was trying to go against the democratic values, but they had to prevent the spread of fake news, terrorism or any type of communal tensions in those areas.

Short Essay on Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech allows the people of our country to express themselves, and share their ideas, views and opinions openly. As a result, the public and the media can comment on any political activity and also express their dissent towards anything they think is not appropriate.

Various other countries too provide freedom of speech to their citizens but they have certain limitations. Different countries have different restrictions on their freedom of speech. Some countries also do not allow this fundamental right at all and the best example being North Korea. There, the media or the public are not allowed to speak against the government. It becomes a punishable offence to criticize the government or the ministers or the political parties.

Key Highlights of the Essay - Freedom of Speech

Every democratic country gives its citizens the Freedom of Speech so as to enable the citizens to freely express their individual views, ideas and concerns. The freedom to be able to practice any religion, to be able to express individual secularism and for spreading democratic values across the world. In order to be able to save and to celebrate democracy, enforcing freedom of speech in India Is essential. Freedom of speech  about fundamental rights is also a fundamental duty of citizens in order to save the essence of democracy.  In a country, a healthy, liberal and strong democracy is always  reflected and can be seen through a strong media presence, as the media are the voice of the common people.  When faced with any form of criticism, we see some governments get very hostile,  and they  try to oppress  and stop any kind of  voices that might go against them. This is not favorable for any country. 

A good democracy involves all the people - all their various  supporters and critics alike, before they begin formulating any policies. India had the Sedition law, a British-era law that is used to stifle criticism and curb freedom of speech during the pre-independence era. The section 124A of Indian Penal Code, this law of sedition stated that if a person with his words, written or spoken, brings hatred, contempt or excites tension towards a government or an individual, then he can be fined or jailed or both. Using  freedom of speech, people spread hatred, unnecessary tensions, bigotry and some amount of violence too in the society. Ironically  in such cases, it will be wrong to allow freedom of speech. The reasons for chaos and anarchy in a nation should not be due to  Freedom of speech and expression. This law was stifled when article 370 got revoked in Kashmir, in order to prevent the spread of fake news, terrorism or any type of communal tensions in those areas.

Freedom of speech gives people of our country, the freedom to express themselves, to be able to share their ideas, views and opinions openly, where the public and the media can express and comment on any political activities and can also be able to express their dissent towards anything they think is not appropriate. Different countries have different restrictions on their freedom of speech. And it is not proper to comment on that .In Fact, there are some countries which does not allow this fundamental right , for example, North Korea where neither the media nor the public have any right to speak against or even for the government and it is a punishable offense to openly criticize the government or the or anyone in particular.

While freedom of speech lets the society grow it could have certain negative outcomes. It should not be used to disrespect or instigate others. The media too should not misuse it. We, the people of this nation, should act responsibly towards utilizing its freedom of speech and expression. Lucky we are to be citizens of India. It’s a nation that respects all its citizens and gives them the rights needed for their development and growth.

A fundamental right of every citizen of India, the  ‘Freedom of Speech’ allows citizens to share their individual thoughts and views.

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FAQs on Essay on Freedom of Speech in English Free PDF download

1. Mention five lines for Freedom of Speech Essay?

i) A fundamental right that is guaranteed to citizens of a country to be able to express their opinions and points of view without any kind of censorship.

ii) A democracy’s health depends on the extent of freedom of expression of all its citizens.

iii) Freedom of speech is never absolute in nature.

iv) New Zealand, USA or UK rank  high in terms of freedom of speech by its citizens.

v) A fundamental right in the Indian constitution is the Freedom of Speech and Expression.

2. Explain Freedom of Speech?

A fundamental right of every citizen of India, Freedom Of Speech allows every citizen the freedom and the right to express all their views, concerns, ideas and issues relating to anything about their country. Freedom of Speech is never actual in nature  and has its limits too. It cannot be used for any kind of illegal purposes.The health of a democracy depends on the extent of freedom of expression of its citizens.

3. What happens when there is no Freedom of Speech?

A country will become a police and military state with no democratic and humanitarian values in it if there is no freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech is a fundamental right for all citizens, and a failure to not being able to express one’s ideas, beliefs, and thoughts will result in a non authoritarian and non democratic country.  Failure to have freedom of speech in a country would mean that the rulers or the governments of those countries have no respect for its citizens.

4. Where can we get study material related to essay writing ?

It is important to practice some of the important questions in order to do well. offers these important questions along with answers that have been formulated in a well structured, well researched, and easy to understand manner. Various essay writing topics, letter writing samples, comprehension passages are all available at the online portals today. Practicing and studying with the help of these enable the students to measure their level of proficiency, and also allows them to understand the difficult questions with ease. 

You can avail all the well-researched and good quality chapters, sample papers, syllabus on various topics from the website of Vedantu and its mobile application available on the play store. 

5. Why should students choose Vedantu for an essay on the topic 'Freedom of Speech’?

Essay writing is important for students   as it helps them increase their brain and vocabulary power. Today it is important to be able to practice some important topics, samples and questions to be able to score well in the exams. offers these important questions along with answers that have been formulated in a well structured, well researched, and easy to understand manner. The NCERT and other study material along with their explanations are very easily accessible from and can be downloaded too. Practicing with the help of these questions along with the solutions enables the students to measure their level of proficiency, and also allows them to understand the difficult questions with ease. 

6. What is Freedom of Speech?

Freedom of speech is the ability to express our opinions without any fear.

7. Which country allows the highest level of Freedom of Speech to its citizens?

The USA is at the highest with a score of 5.73.

8. Is Freedom of Speech absolute?

No, freedom of speech cannot be absolute. It has limitations.

Washington Examiner Presents

L aw enforcement officials nationwide issued warnings to the Jewish community over the weekend after neo-Nazi groups designated Saturday a national “Day of Hate,” with organizers calling for their followers to “shock the masses.”

Sadly, this was not surprising given recent events.

Our country has experienced an alarming increase in antisemitism recently, including attacks that are reminiscent of another time and place. Jewish Americans have faced physical assaults, verbal onslaughts, and profanity-laced and ominous flyers dropped off at the doorsteps of Jewish neighborhoods around the country. A viral video this past week, for example, showed a group of bigots in Orlando, Florida, waiting outside a Jewish center to instigate and harass the members. One of the instigators shoved a megaphone in the face of a rabbi and screamed things such as: “kike,” “Heil Hitler,” “Do you think you should be put in ovens,” and “You filthy Jew.”

This incident was not isolated, and the perpetrators are not only white supremacists. By all accounts, antisemitic discrimination and hate crimes are at an all-time high in our country and are being perpetrated by multiple groups with different agendas. The time has come for a collective response.

Many might be concerned that cracking down on hateful conduct could violate Americans’ right to free speech. It is critical, however, for all elected and law enforcement officials, as well as members of the public, to better understand the outer bounds of freedom of speech under the law. The bottom line is that the offended party is not without redress in many of these cases.

To be sure, freedom of speech , even offensive and hateful speech, should be protected. But there are limits to what constitutes speech, and there are rules for when it crosses over into actionable conduct. A number of the individuals involved in organizing these antisemitic activities, for example, are convicted felons with histories of bigoted violence, and in light of their groups’ increasing hostilities and the very real threat they continue to pose, authorities must be vigilant in safeguarding potential targets.

The First Amendment does not protect any unlawful conduct , which includes trespassing, vandalism, harassment, assault, and the destruction of property. The First Amendment also does not protect someone who is making true threats, which the Supreme Court in Virginia v. Black (2003) defined as “statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.” Nor does it protect intimidation, which is “a type of true threat, where a speaker directs a threat to a person or group of persons with the intent of placing the victim in fear of bodily harm or death.”

There is no First Amendment protection for speech that involves incitement, which the court in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) explained includes speech that “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Nor does the First Amendment protect speech that aims not to inform or persuade, but to disrupt lawful endeavors — activities such as participating in a private synagogue’s religious service. Obscenity is not protected under the First Amendment either, and violations of federal obscenity laws, which can include visual depictions, spoken words, or written text (like some of the filth on the distributed flyers), are criminal offenses.

Finally, the protections that the First Amendment puts in place are meant to protect citizens from the government abridging their speech — not to limit the rights of other private individuals. Private businesses and landowners can restrict certain speech, conduct, and demonstrations, in most cases, without triggering any constitutional issues.

It is important to be clear on these rules because the inflammatory, discriminatory antisemitic rhetoric that hate groups spread often leads directly to antisemitic violence. For example, just two weeks ago, one follower who had shared this particular network’s antisemitic propaganda was arrested on charges of shooting two Jewish men as they were leaving synagogues in Los Angeles.

The danger of incitement is real, and authorities must act quickly and decisively to immediately curb any behavior that crosses from free speech into unlawful conduct. Failing to do so will have disastrous results, not only for the Jewish community, but also for all Americans. As the late Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks once explained, “Antisemitism is the world’s most reliable early warning sign of a major threat to freedom. ... It matters to all of us. Which is why we must fight it together.”

Our leaders must make use of all the tools they have at their disposal, and this means understanding that the First Amendment is not a free pass to threaten, harass, intimidate, or otherwise violate the rights of others.


Gabriel Groisman is a partner at LSN Law in Miami, Florida, a Jewish rights leader, and the former mayor of Bal Harbour, Florida. Dr. Mark Goldfeder is director of the National Jewish Advocacy Center and a former law professor specializing in the First Amendment.

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Democracy & justice, why is freedom of speech important in a democracy: 5 reasons, why is freedom of speech important why is it a core principle in a democracy how is it being threatened how do we protect it, by eleanor brooks.

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What is freedom of speech?

Freedom of speech is one of the core pillars upholding the democratic process and protecting it is essential if we want to live in a society that is fair and equal for everyone. Failing to do so weakens democracy.

Every time you share a news story on your social media channel, attend a protest, or write to your local politician about an issue you care about, this is free speech in action. Not just any speech is considered free speech. For example, having an argument around the dinner table about whether or not to eat your vegetables is not considered free speech.

Free speech exists when citizens can express their opinion – including views that are critical towards the government - without fearing negative consequences, such as being put into prison or receiving threats of violence.

In 2000 freedom of expression was enshrined as a fundamental right in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union:

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Therefore, someone who engages in criminalised forms of speech such as hate speech, terrorist content or child pornography cannot defend themselves by relying on their right to freedom of expression.

Why is freedom of speech important in a democracy? Why is it a core principle?

Democracy’s goal is to have a plural and tolerant society. For this to happen successfully, citizens should be able to speak freely and openly about how they would like to be governed and criticize those who are in power.

This exchange of ideas and opinions isn’t just a once off on election day, rather it is an on-going two-way communication which happens throughout a government’s term.

1. It battles for the truth

To enable citizens to make meaningful decisions about how they want society to function, they need access to truthful and accurate information about a wide variety of topics. This can only happen if people feel safe vocalizing the issues affecting their communities.

Safeguarding freedom of speech encourages people to speak out, which makes it easier to tackle systemic issues from the inside. This deters people from abusing their power, which helps everyone in the long run.

2. It makes everyone more accountable

When it comes to elections, citizens are given the opportunity to hold their politicians accountable. In order to decide who to vote for, they need to understand how well a political party has performed while in power and whether or not they fulfilled their election promises.

By reporting on society’s most pressing social issues, media outlets and civil society organisations (CSOs) contribute to the public’s perception of how well the government is doing. However, this is only helpful if they are free to truthfully cover stories that are critical of the state.

3. Active participation of citizens

Elections and referendums are a good opportunity for citizens to shape the direction of society, but they only come round every couple of years.

Free speech reinforces other fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly, which citizens exercise to influence public decision-making by attending protests, demonstrations or participating in campaigns.

This allows them to protest an unpopular decision, such as the ban on abortion in Poland, or show the government they want stronger political action on an important issue. When protestors in Germany filled the streets in their hundreds of thousands protesting the war in Ukraine, this sent a strong message to the government that the people supported strong sanctions against Russia.

4. Promotes equal treatment of minorities

In a democratic society everyone should be treated equally and fairly. However, minority groups who are underrepresented in government are often side-lined, and their opinions' neglected in favour of those belonging to the dominant social group.

By campaigning and speaking openly about the issues faced by their communities, marginalized people can gain widespread public support for their cause. This increases their ability to influence public agenda-setting and put an end to human rights abuses.

5. Necessary for change and innovation

We all want society to become better for everyone, but for that to happen society’s need to encourage and foster freedom of expression. Authoritarian governments who suppress criticism and withhold public interest information deny citizens the right to make informed decisions or take action about important social issues.

Concealing vital intelligence causes problems to fester and worsen. This hinders progress and makes finding a solution much harder when the issue finally comes to light.

For example in China, the doctor who attempted to warn the medical community of a deadly virus – Covid-19 – was told to "stop making false comments" and was investigated for "spreading rumours". This had the devastating effect of delaying the introduction of measures to contain Covid-19, which resulted in a global pandemic and millions of deaths.

How is freedom of speech being threatened?


Authoritarian governments whose primary aim is to stay in power want to ensure that any media coverage is favourable. In order to control the public narrative, they appoint political figures to media authorities and exercise financial and editorial control over mainstream media outlets. As reported by our member organization in our 2022 Media Freedom Act . Hungary is an egregious example of this where over 80% of the media market is controlled directly or indirectly by the Hungarian government.

Governments use restrictive legal reforms, crowd control by police or exceptional emergency measures to curb freedom of expression.

As an emergency response during the Covid-19 pandemic countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Slovenia and Spain disproportionately curtailed exercise of the right to protest in the interest of public health through heavy-handed policing and the arrest of activists.

Other legal tools used by the state to control the flow of information is to criminalize the spread of false information or deny access to information.

In Russia, the invasion of Ukraine is referred to by Putin as a “military operation” and it is understood amongst Russians that using the word ‘war’ will put them afoul of the “fake news” laws which could land them with a prison sentence of up to 15 years. As a result, many Russians who oppose the war are cowed into silence, while others aren’t aware of the truth of what is happening.

3.Attacks on journalists, CSOs and Whistleblowers

Politicians and powerful figures who fear journalists will expose their corrupt behaviour resort to dirty, extra-legal tactics to silence them. Common strategies include legal harassment through SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits) or smear campaigns aimed at discrediting critical CSOs .

Whistleblowers have faced devastating personal consequences for shedding light on activities against the public’s interest such as corruption, illegal activities or malpractice.

Journalists and civil rights defenders are also increasingly in danger of verbal or physical violence, including by police.

Hate speech or online trolling can create a hostile digital environment which discourages women and margainlized people from participating in online social debates.

However, well-intentioned efforts to tackle this issue can inadvertently create the same silencing effects.

The European Union is currently pushing through the Digital Services Act , aimed at making the internet a safer place and protecting freedom of expression online. However, its proposed solution to stamp out disinformation could do the opposite. In our letter to MEPs we advised against the mandatory use of upload filters to remove harmful online content, as they are not sophisticated enough to distinguish between humour and abuse. If used, they could limit free speech online.

5. Self-censorship

When freedom of speech is under attack, it sends the message that telling the truth can put you in danger. The ambiguity that exists around what is acceptable or not leads people to tread with caution, so they begin to self-censor . Our 2022 Media Freedom Report found that journalists in Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and Sweden were self-censoring due to online attacks or harassment.

How to protect freedom of speech?

In order to safeguard free speech, there should be laws in place which protect individuals and organisations who are threatened for exposing corruption or unethical behaviour. Journalists, watchdogs, activists and whistleblowers should be given robust legal protection which enables them to carry out their work safely and shields them from retaliation from those seeking to silence them.

This is why Liberties is working hard to campaign for better laws to safeguard media freedom. The Media Freedom Act (MFA) currently being drafted by the European Commission has the potential to make a real difference. We sent the Commission our Media Freedom Report auditing the state of media freedom in 15 EU countries, as well as a policy paper outlining recommendations which we believe the MFA should address. It should include measures to further transparency in media ownership and elaborate on rules on how to make journalistic work more safe.

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What Is the Freedom of Speech?

Alliance Defending Freedom

“Free speech” is a term that gets thrown around quite often these days. But what is it? And why is it important?

The freedom of speech is simply the ability to say, write, or otherwise express what you truly believe without fear of punishment or retaliation from the government.

This freedom is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution , which states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” The authors of our Constitution believed it was very important to protect this freedom. 

And for good reason.

Speaking is how you express your thoughts. So if government officials can force you to say things you don’t believe, you no longer control the content of your speech and thus lose the freedom to live consistently with the principles you treasure most.

Government officials who seek to control your speech are trying to control what you think and what you do. And that’s contrary to the very idea of freedom. Not only that, but it’s contrary to the dignity of the human person. Our thoughts not only cause our actions, they are the most personal possession we have.

While upholding human dignity is the most important reason to protect this freedom, it certainly isn’t the only reason.

If you want good ideas to have influence, you’ll support protections for the freedom of speech. The best ideas often come from the robust discussion and debate of many different ideas.

And this cannot exist without free speech.

What the freedom of speech is not.

Some might argue that the freedom of speech is just a piece of rhetoric used by those who want to say hateful things. But this is false.

Free speech is a right that every individual possesses as a human being created by God.

And this right isn’t just for those with certain beliefs. In fact, that’s the whole point. There are as many unique perspectives as there are people. Our ability to share our perspective with others is what free speech is all about.

As the Declaration of Independence says, “all men are created equal.” But this doesn’t mean that all ideas are equal. There will always be bad or even false ideas that we must address.

But the answer isn’t to shut down debate or silence the people sharing those ideas. The answer is more speech.

We can use our own speech to answer hateful statements with good and truthful ones. We can debate ideas we consider bad with those we believe are good.

No matter what, we need those with whom we disagree to be involved in the conversation.

Debate with our ideological opponents sharpens our ideas and may even allow us to see the truth in a new and unexpected way. Not only that, but our opponents’ right to free speech should be protected because they are human beings with dignity just like us. And if their right is taken away, then ours can easily be taken away too.

It has been said that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

What is Compelled Speech?

When we think of the First Amendment right to free speech, we often think of how it protects us from being censored by the government because of what we say.

But what about what we do not say?

The Constitution also protects us from being forced to say or express messages with which we disagree. While this may seem like a far-fetched scenario, it is becoming increasingly common. Take for example artists and other creative professionals .

Artists express their thoughts and beliefs through custom creations. Painters, calligraphers , graphic designers , photographers , and, yes, cake artists , all express their beliefs through their various mediums. But what happens when the government tries to dictate what these artists can and cannot express with their work?

Well, a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, this has been happening more and more with the spread of so-called Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity laws. These laws often seek to force creative professionals to create messages through their art with which they disagree.

Why we must protect our freedom of speech

Abolishing the freedom of speech and trying to control what people say are the tools of tyrants.

Our Founders valued free speech because they knew the consequences when it was taken away. Many of the first settlers who came to America in the 17th century were escaping England, where the King tried to force them to profess religious beliefs with which they disagreed.

This isn’t just something that happened in the past. Today, in many countries around the world, people are arrested, imprisoned, and even sentenced to death for expressing views with which the government disagrees.

We are truly blessed to live in the United States where we can share our views, regardless of what those views are. We must keep it this way.

Right now, the First Amendment is under threat.

Free speech is being attacked on college campuses

Universities are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas where students can learn from many different perspectives. Unfortunately, today, there is a culture of silencing certain viewpoints on many college campuses .

Students who want to say anything contrary to a far-left worldview are often shut down or told they can only speak in so-called “speech zones” on campus.

And it’s not just students. Professors have been denied promotions and even fired for expressing their views. Speakers invited to college campuses by right-leaning student groups have been protested and even canceled by college administrators.

Free speech is under threat in corporate board rooms

Anti-free speech culture is spreading from university campuses into corporate board rooms. Employees and shareholders at many large corporations fear sharing their true opinions. They face backlash from left-leaning leadership and co-workers that could lead to being reprimanded or even fired.

Corporations even rely on discredited sources like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to prevent right-leaning organizations from using their products or resources. This happened to Alliance Defending Freedom. Amazon continues to rely on the SPLC’s false label to prevent ADF from using their charity program, AmazonSmile.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this affects thousands of Americans who use the products and services of huge corporations like Amazon.

Free speech is under attack on social media platforms

You may have heard of “ cancel culture .” It often references scenarios like this: a person posts something on social media that expresses a certain viewpoint. Those against that viewpoint mob the post, calling for the poster to be humiliated, silenced, and in some cases, even fired from their job. Every once in a while, the poster’s personal information—such as their personal address—will be shared online in an attempt to intimidate that person.

What’s worse is that these “mobs” frequently get their wish. And in many instances, tech companies that run social media platforms censor posts or even suspend users for expressing certain views.

People should not have to fear for their job or personal safety simply because they shared their opinions online. Cancel culture is antithetical to a culture of free speech and debate.

Do you have an opinion on an important cultural or political topic that you want to share? Our Constitution protects your right to do so. But we need to be vigilant to make sure this protection is not taken away. That is why ADF is committed to protecting the freedom of speech—not just for some—but for every American.

To stay up to date on cases and issues affecting your freedom of speech, sign up for our emails below. 

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3 cases that show what free speech means

Freedom of speech means a lot to Americans.  A study found an overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. think people should be able to speak their minds — without government interference — in public, in the press or on the internet.

These Americans believe their right to speak their minds should be defended under the First Amendment of the Constitution. But as the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes pointed out, defending free speech means defending not just “free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes seated at desk (Library of Congress)

We asked Eugene Volokh, a freedom of speech expert and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, to chose three Supreme Court cases that show how freedom of speech is protected in the U.S., as well as what kind of speech is not protected.

Even offensive speech is protected:  Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)

In 1964, the leader of a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, a racist organization, was arrested for advocating violence in a speech he gave during a filmed rally. In his remarks he spoke of taking “revengeance” (an invented combination of “revenge” and “vengeance”) against African Americans and Jews. The Supreme Court ruled that the inflammatory speech was protected by the Constitution.

In its opinion, the Court drew the distinction between speech that advocates for criminal action in a general way and speech that incites an immediate crime. “So if somebody is giving a speech to a crowd outside a building and saying ‘let’s go and burn this building down,’” explains Volokh, “that might be punishable.”

“A great deal of criticism of existing rules, existing laws and existing social institutions involves speech that might be seen as encouraging illegal conduct,” says Volokh. “People need to be free to express those views.”

The importance of a fearless press:  New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)

In 1960, The New York Times published an advertisement in support of the Civil Rights movement that decried actions of the police in Montgomery, Alabama. The public safety commissioner in Montgomery sued the newspaper for libel (publishing false statements) because some of the allegations in the ad were demonstrably false.

New York Times advertisement that reads 'Heed Their Rising Voices' (National Archives)

The Supreme Court ruled that the newspaper was constitutionally protected in this instance, despite the false allegations, since the newspaper did not knowingly and recklessly publish the inaccuracies.

The important precedent of the case, says Volokh, is that “honest mistakes about government officials have to be constitutionally protected even if they are false and damaging to the official because otherwise people will be discouraged from criticizing government officials.”

The freedom to choose your words:  Cohen v. California (1971)

Nineteen-year-old Paul Cohen was arrested for wearing a jacket in a California courthouse that protested the draft with an obscenity. A lower court said that Cohen had the right to speak out against the draft, but not the right to do it with obscene language in a public place.

When the case was appealed to the Supreme Court, the Court disagreed. “The Court said that it’s important that people be free to choose their words,” says Volokh. “Even if those words are angry words, even words that are seen as offensive words. That itself can be an important part of the message.”

Does that mean you can say anything all the time?

Volokh points out that each of these cases also shows specific and very narrow limits to free speech.

In the case of the Ku Klux Klan leader advocating acts that would be crimes if they were carried out, the Supreme Court decision made clear that if his speech were encouraging an audience to immediately commit a crime — to immediately loot, riot or burn down buildings, for instance — that speech would not be protected by the First Amendment.

In the case of the newspaper that published the inaccurate information, that form of speech would not be protected by the First Amendment if the newspaper published falsehoods knowingly and purposefully.

And using obscenity in a public place would not necessarily be protected, says Volokh, if it were directed at a specific person and intended as “fighting words.”


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Freedom of Speech - Article 19(1)(a)

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all citizens. It is enshrined in Article 19(1)(a). This topic is frequently seen in the news and is hence, very important for the IAS Exam . In this article, you can read all about Article 19(1)(a) and its provisions.

Article 19(1)(a)

According to Article 19(1)(a): All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.

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You can read all about Fundamental Rights at the linked article.

Importance of Freedom of Speech and Expression

A basic element of a functional democracy is to allow all citizens to participate in the political and social processes of the country. There is ample freedom of speech, thought and expression in all forms (verbal, written, broadcast, etc.) in a healthy democracy.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed not only by the Indian Constitution but also by international statutes such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (declared on 10th December 1948) , the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, etc.

To know more in detail about the Constitution of India , visit the linked article

The Need to Protect Freedom of Speech

There are four justifications for freedom of speech. They are:

Restriction on Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is not absolute. Article 19(2) imposes restrictions on the right to freedom of speech and expression. The reasons for such restrictions are in the interests of:

The Constitution provides people with the freedom of expression without fear of reprisal, but it must be used with caution, and responsibly.

Freedom of Speech on Social Media

The High Court of Tripura has held that posting on social media was virtually the same as a fundamental right applicable to all citizens, including government employees. It also asserted that government servants are entitled to hold and express their political beliefs, subject to the restrictions laid under the Tripura Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1988.

In another significant judgment, the HC of Tripura ordered the police to refrain from prosecuting the activist who was arrested over a social media post where he criticized an online campaign in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 and warned people against it. The High Court held that these orders are in line with the very essence of the Indian Constitution.

Hate Speech

The Supreme Court of India had asked the Law Commission to make recommendations to the Parliament to empower the Election Commission to restrict the problem of “hate speeches” irrespective of, whenever made. But the Law Commission recommended that several factors need to be taken into account before restricting a speech, such as the context of the speech, the status of the maker of the speech, the status of the victim and the potential of the speech to create discriminatory and disruptive circumstances.

Freedom of Speech in Art

In relation to art, the court has held that “the art must be so preponderating as to throw obscenity into a shadow or the obscenity so trivial and insignificant that it can have no effect and may be overlooked.” 

There are restrictions in what can be shown in cinemas and this is governed by the Cinematograph Act, 1952. You can read more about this and the Censor Board in India here.

Safeguards for Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(2)

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all its citizens, however, these freedom are not absolute because Article 19 (2) of the constitution provides a safeguard to this freedom under which reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the exercise of this right for certain purposes. Safeguards outlined are discussed below-

Article 19(2) of the Indian constitution allows the state to make laws that restrict freedom of speech and expression so long as they impose any restriction on the –

Need of these Safeguards of Freedom of Speech & Expression

Right to Information

As mentioned before, the right to information is a fundamental right under Article 19(1). The right to receive information has been inferred from the right to free speech. However, the RTI has not been extended to the Official Secrets Act. For more on the RTI, click here .

Freedom of Speech – Indian Polity:- Download PDF Here

UPSC Questions related to Freedom of Speech

Yes, freedom of speech is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a).

Article 19 of the Constitution guaranteed the right to freedom. Read more here .

The 7 fundamental rights are:

On what grounds can the State limit Freedom of Speech?

The state can limit Freedom of Speech on the following grounds

You can know more about the topics asked in the exam by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page. Also, refer to the links given below for more articles. 

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A journalism professor breaks down what the racist implosion of ‘Dilbert’ creator Scott Adams really says about free speech

Scott Adams

Dilbert, the put-upon chronicler of office life, has been given the pink slip.

On Feb. 26, 2023 , Andrews McMeel Universal announced that it would no longer distribute the popular comic strip after its creator, Scott Adams, engaged in what many people viewed as a racist rant on his YouTube channel. Hundreds of newspapers had by then decided to quit publishing the strip .

It followed an incident in which Adams, on his program “Real Coffee with Scott Adams,” reacted to a survey by Rasmussan Reports that concluded only 53% of Black Americans agreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white.” If only about half thought it was OK to be white, Adams said, this qualified Black Americans as a “hate group.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with them,” Adams added . “And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people, just get the f— away … because there is no fixing this.”

Adams later doubled down on his statements, writing on Twitter that “Dilbert has been cancelled from all newspapers, websites, calendars, and books because I gave some advice everyone agreed with.”

Adams is wrong. If everyone had agreed with him, “Dilbert” would still be appearing in newspapers.

The first “Dilbert” strip – a comic centered on mocking American office culture – appeared in 1989. It became a hit, and until recently, “ Dilbert” ran in more than 2,000 daily newspapers across 65 countries.

Now, according to Adams , his client list is “around zero.”

Therein lies the moral of the story: Know thy audience.

Adams failed to grasp that being a social critic means your freedom of expression only goes as far as your audience is willing to accept it. Adams could say whatever he wanted to his YouTube audience because his listeners may have agreed with what he said.

Unfortunately for him, what he said on his program did not stay on his program.

But Adams’ comfortable salary depended on his satisfying a wider audience – many of whom found his opinions intolerable.

America’s tradition of free speech

In a country that prides itself on its tradition of free expression, it’s important to explore the limits of free expression in the United States. This can be done in part by looking at social criticism, as I did in my book “ Drawn to Extremes: The Use and Abuse of Editorial Cartoons .”

Cartoonists are limited by their imagination, talent, taste and their senses of humor, morality and outrage. If they want an audience they must also consider the tastes and sensibilities of their editors and readers.

The United States may pride itself on its tradition of free speech, but cartoonists throughout the nation’s history have been jailed, beaten, sued and censored for their drawings.

In 1903, the governor of Pennsylvania, Samuel W. Pennypacker , called for restrictions against journalists after a Philadelphia newspaper cartoonist had depicted him as a parrot during the previous fall’s gubernatorial campaign. A state representative then introduced a bill that made it illegal to publish a cartoon “ portraying, describing or representing any person … in the likeness of beast, bird, fish, insect or other inhuman animal” that exposed the person to “hatred, contempt, or ridicule.” Another cartoonist then drew the governor as a frothy stein of beer and the bill’s author as a small potato.

The bill failed to pass.

Cartoonists working for the socialist magazine The Masses were accused of undermining the war effort during World War I with their anti-war opinions and prosecuted under the Espionage Act .

And during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, newspapers canceled Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” comic strip after Kelly drew Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev as a medal-wearing hog and Cuban leader Fidel Castro as a cigar-smoking goat because they thought the strip might jeopardize the peace process.

Perhaps no cartoonist – before the ax fell on “Dilbert” – has seen his strip canceled by more newspapers than Garry Trudeau , creator of “ Doonesbury .” In 1984, dozens of newspapers canceled a series of strips wherein which Doonesbury’s dim-witted newsman Roland Burton Hedley took readers on a trip through then-President Ronald Reagan’s brain, finding “80 billion neurons, or ‘marbles,’ as they are known to the layman.” And Trudeau’s syndicate, Universal Press, refused to distribute a strip that satirized an anti-abortion documentary .

In other countries, cartoonists have been murdered in retaliation for their work. Famously, on Jan. 7, 2015, two French Muslim terrorists entered the Paris office of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 cartoonists, editors and police officers after the periodical published satirical drawings of the Prophet Muhammad.

The importance of context

Such controversies were generally caused by what cartoonists said in their cartoons. There have been exceptions. Al Capp, who created the comic strip “Li’l Abner,” saw his popularity wane in the 1960s and 1970s when he began expressing his far-right political opinion in both his strip and particularly in his public appearances.

Adams was similarly punished not for what he included in his comic strip but rather what for what he said on his YouTube program.

The context here is important. This was not the first time Adams has been censured after saying something deemed to be offensive. In May 2022, around 80 newspapers canceled “Dilbert” after Adams introduced his first Black character in the 30-plus year run of the strip. The character identified as white to prank his boss’s diversity goals.

Adams lost some newspapers when he decided to mock diversity in the business world. He lost his strip when he used racist language to attack Black people on his YouTube program.

Chris Lamb is Professor of Journalism, Indiana University .

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

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Republican Senator Models Florida’s Gun & Freedom of Speech Laws on Cuba

Under Oregon's Measure 114, 'Common Sense Gun Safety' Means Shutting Down Gun Sales

Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary, FL) doesn’t like the First Amendment. He wants anyone who writes an opinion piece—where they are compensated for their work about the Governor, Lt. Governor, or any Legislator—to register with the State within five days of the work being published. Those who do not register can be fined daily.

Of course, being compensated for one’s work doesn’t just refer to monetary payment; it can also refer to any type of recompense. For example, if you’re a blogger who wrote an opinion piece or vlogged about a lawmaker, and your blog/YouTube channel is sponsored by a local gun shop by means of a free case of ammo every month, you’d be targeted because Sen. Brodeur considers that to be a form of payment.

That’s what Senate Bill 1316 does. Among other things, the bill will “require[e] bloggers to register with the Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics, as applicable, within a specified timeframe.”

I’m sorry, but last I checked, this is the United States of America. We are not in the Republic of Cuba, the Communist hellscape that lies 90 miles south of Florida.

The idea—that anyone who expresses any political thought piece, and is compensated for their work, should report their works to the state or be punished—is completely antithetical to the reasons why our nation was founded.

I would expect this to be proposed by dictators like Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, or North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. But, to see a Florida Republican propose such legislation is sickening.

Worse though, this isn’t something completely shocking regarding Sen. Brodeur. Back in 2018, when he was a State Representative, he voted in favor of the Parkland Gun Control bill.

He had no problem stripping lawful Floridians of their Second Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights. He voted in favor of stripping any young adult under the age of twenty-one from legally purchasing a firearm. He voted in favor of Red Flag laws—which are gun confiscation orders that strip people of their Second Amendment rights, while trampling upon their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, as well. He also voted in favor of a mandatory three-day waiting period.

As I’ve always said, the way a lawmaker treats the Second Amendment is a barometer that measures how he or she will treat your other inalienable rights.

Sen. Brodeur, your bill is anti-freedom, and I am purposefully influencing the public to let them know where you stand as a lawmaker. As a Cuban-American, I find your legislation to be insulting.

About Luis Valdes

Luis Valdes

Sounds like  Brodeur needs to be given the vacay of his dreams – to Cuba – one way – permanently. Rescind his citizenship and passport on the way over. Oh, and it should be relatively cheap, just a short 90 mile jaunt.The only way he should be allowed back into the US of A is if he arrives the way many Cubans did, by 90 mile water trip on an improvised raft with little to no food/water. If he doesn’t value his freedoms that much to sacrifice to regain them, then he can stay in Cuba. Obviously he doesn’t value …  Read more »


i would pay for his one way first class ticket to havana with the exception that he does not come back. you like it so much stay there and live under that rule of law. here is a good article about him and it. he wrote it, sponsored it and no one else is interested in it. i feel sorry for the idiots that elected him, not.

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How DeSantis of him; DeSantis is attacking speech guns will be next

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Texas Supreme Court Upholds Pro-Life Freedom of Speech

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Anti-abortion activists protest outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic on January 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. The protest was organized by the Purple Sash Revolution and Priests for Life, calling for defunding and replacing of Planned Parenthood. On Friday, thousands of anti-abortion activists are expected …

The Texas Supreme Court handed down a major ruling on Friday, rejecting an effort by pro-abortion groups to silence a pro-life advocate who equated abortion with murder. 

The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and The Afiya Center and Texas Equal Access Fund filed nearly identical lawsuits against pro-life activist Mark Lee Dickson and Right to Life East Texas in Travis County in 2020, accusing Dickson of defamation for referring to them as “criminal organizations” and equating abortion with murder.

The Texas Supreme Court ultimately decided that Dickson’s statements are “protected opinion about abortion law made in pursuit of changing the law, placing them at the heart of protect speech under the United States and Texas Constitutions,” Justice Jane Bland wrote in the opinion of of the court, adding:

Such opinions are constitutionally protected even when the speaker applies them to specific advocacy groups that support abortion rights. In our state and nation, an advocate is free to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject, perhaps most especially on controversial subjects like legalized abortion,

The dispute between Dickson, who is the director with Right To Life of East Texas, and the pro-abortion organizations began in 2019, when Dickson successfully lobbied the Waskom, Texas, city council to pass an ordinance declaring the town to be a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn.” That ordinance states that abortion is “an act of murder with malice aforethought” and it conditionally criminalizes aiding or abetting most abortions should the United States Supreme Court overrule Roe v. Wade . The ordinance initially listed the pro-abortion groups, among others, as “criminal organizations” that “perform abortions and assist others in obtaining abortions.”

However, the ordinance was not the subject of the lawsuits, but rather Dickson’s speech in the wake of the ordinance’s passage. Soon after the city passed the ordinance, Dickson posted statements about it to his Facebook and to the Right to Life East Texas Facebook page. The court opinion reads:

In his posts, he encouraged others to join his campaign to bring similar ordinances to other Texas cities. In one post, he asks readers to sign a petition favoring such ordinances. In another, he quotes the Ordinance and identifies the plaintiffs in this case as ‘criminal organizations.’ In other posts, Dickson writes that the plaintiffs ‘exist to help pregnant Mothers murder their babies’ and ‘murder innocent unborn children.’

In June of 2020, the plaintiffs wrote to both Dickson and Right to Life East Texas asking Dickson to retract his statements. Dickson did not reply, and a week later, the pro-abortion groups filed two separate defamation lawsuits. Dickson and Right to Life East Texas moved to dismiss both suits under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, and said that his statements represent his opinion about abortion and are a part of his advocacy to change the laws on abortion.

Two courts of appeals considered whether Dickson’s statements were defamatory: one court of appeals ordered the suit dismissed, while another permitted the defamation suit to continue. The Texas Supreme Court said that, upon examination of his statements, their context “shows no abuse of the constitutional right to freely speak” and that Dickson “did not urge or threaten violence, nor did he misrepresent the underlying conduct in expressing his opinions about it.”

The opinion reads:

The Texas Citizens Participation Act provides for early dismissal of lawsuits that chill a citizen’s exercise of free speech unless the lawsuit has merit. Because the speaker in this case properly invoked the Act and the plaintiffs failed to adduce evidence of defamation in response, these cases must be dismissed. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court of appeals that dismissed the defamation suit before it, and we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals that permitted the companion suit to advance. …
In dismissing these cases, we express no opinion on the opinions of others. Instead, we return both sides of the abortion debate to the battlefield of speech where it belongs. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.

The court added that “perhaps no speech more deserves and requires protection from governmental censure than that critical of the government and its decisions” and that any limitation that defamation law places on free speech “may not muzzle a speaker from asserting an opinion in an ongoing debate about the law.”

Dickson told Breitbart News in a statement that he is “thankful that the Lilith Fund, which shares a name with a demon that preys on women and children, was not successful in their attempt to stop [him] from referring to their organization as a criminal organization involved in the murder of innocent children.”

“I hope the Lilith Fund and the other two abortion assistance groups get out of the baby-murdering business,” Dickson said.

“Right To Life of East Texas is thankful for everyone who has been supportive of our work and who have fought alongside us since our work began in 1976, but we are especially thankful for those who were involved in our recent representation before the Supreme Court of Texas,” he continued. “Abortion is murder, the abortion industry is involved in the murder of innocent children, and we will continue to speak out against these criminal organizations who have a reputation of hurting women and ending the lives of their children.”

The case is The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity v. Dickson , No. 21-0978 in the Supreme Court of Texas.  

Editor’s Note :  This story was revised for clarity and to add quotes from East Texas Right To Life Director Mark Lee Dickson.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.

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Deion sanders sparks religious freedom debate at colorado.

Deion Sanders

By Jeffrey Rodack    |   Thursday, 02 March 2023 09:01 AM EST

Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has been caught up in a fight over religious freedom three months after accepting the job as head football coach at the University of Colorado.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter of complaint to the university on Jan. 24 citing what it claims are "constitutional concerns with new football coach Deion Sanders' promotion of religion and potential religious coercion through the football program."

It states that the FFRF's mission is to protect "the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism."

The letter, signed by Christopher Line, FFRF's staff attorney, further added: "Multiple concerned Colorado residents have reached out to FFRF to report that CU's new football coach Deion Sanders has been infusing his program with Christianity and engaging in religious exercises with players and staff members.

"It is our understanding that on December 20, 2022, a staff member led other staff members in a Christian prayer to start an official meeting. More egregiously, on January 16, 2023, Coach Sanders directed a staff member to lead players and coaches in Christian prayer before a team meeting."

First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty organization, has also sent a letter to the university disagreeing with FFRF's claims, The Christian Post said.

"The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public school employees may engage in religious expression and exercise; therefore, public universities like CU may not target Coach Sanders (or other members of the football staff) for exercising constitutional rights on campus," First Liberty's counsel Keisha Russell wrote in the letter.

"First Amendment protections to both public employees and students, neither of whom shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

Russell said: "Coach Sanders does not lose his constitutional right to free exercise of religion simply because he is an employee of CU."

The Deseret News reported that the school has responded to the FFRF's complaint.

Patrick O'Rourke, the school's executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer, wrote that the school's Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance had a meeting with Sanders to discuss when and where coaches and players can get involved in religious expression.

"Coach Sanders was very receptive to this training and came away from it with a better understanding of the University of Colorado's policies and the requirements of the Establishment Clause," O'Rourke said.

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Freedom of speech cannot be cover for criminality, illegality and user harm: MoS Chandrasekhar

Freedom of speech cannot be cover for criminality, illegality and user harm: MoS Chandrasekhar

Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar today said that freedom of speech cannot be a cover for criminality, illegality and user harm, and reaffirmed that the intermediaries have to be accountable for the content on their platforms.

Emphasizing that safety and trust cannot be sacrificed at the altar of freedom of speech and privacy, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “For decades the model that was followed was that intermediaries were not accountable about the content on their platforms, and encouraged anonymity to prevent traceability of the illegal content. This helped the proliferation of child sexual abuse and other illegalities on the internet.”

The Minister was addressing the valedictory session of the National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) organised by the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi. 

Stating that there has been a change in approach under the government under the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “An intermediary, if it wants to do business in India, is now under obligation to carry out due diligence over the kind of content it carries and if there is content which is illegal or CSAM, it has to inform us about the first originator when a court order is produced.”

Making it clear that the Government and the Intermediaries are not in any kind of adversarial relationship, he said it is in their joint interest to ensure that the internet is safe and trusted from exploitative material such as CSAM.

Referring to CSAM content in the domain of online gaming, the Minister said “There are thousands of games which are gamified CSAM’s – we are in the process of enacting news rules under the IT Act which will make it very difficult for games that will incorporate CSAM to be available on the Indian internet”.  

The Minister also spoke of the upcoming Digital India Act, that, he said, will be a contemporaneous legislation, to deal with everything necessary to ensure that the Internet in India is safe and trusted for our digital nagriks.

“India will chart its own course to ensure that the internet is safe and trusted, not just for adults but also for children,” Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar asserted.

NHRC Chairperson Justice (Retd.) Arun Mishra, members Dr. Dnyaneshwar Manohar Mulay and Shri Rajiv Jain, and Secretary General Shri D K Singh were among other domain experts present on the occasion.

(With Inputs from PIB)

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  3. ETHOS, PATHOS, LOGOS in the FDR Four Freedom Speech

  4. FCCFU

  5. "Freedom, Speech and YOU!" 2-05-2023 The Waitin' Is The Hardest Part

  6. On the Line "Freedom of Speech"


  1. Free Speech Essays and Papers

    Our government guarantees free speech but not that anyone can make speech at any time, at any place, and talk about anything. Then this country could be an awful place to live. Imagine that loud noise from speakers and subwoofers from cars that are driven through your neighborhood 570 Words 2 Pages 1 Works Cited Satisfactory Essays Preview Speech

  2. Freedom of Speech

    Freedom of speech—the right to express opinions without government restraint—is a democratic ideal that dates back to ancient Greece. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees free...

  3. Freedom of Expression

    FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Back to what We Do Overview Your voice matters. You have the right to say what you think, share information and demand a better world. You also have the right to agree or disagree with those in power, and to express these opinions in peaceful protests.

  4. Freedom of speech

    freedom of speech, right, as stated in the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content.

  5. The Ongoing Challenge to Define Free Speech

    The Ongoing Challenge to Define Free Speech. Freedom of speech, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo declared more than 80 years ago, "is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.". Countless other justices, commentators, philosophers, and more have waxed eloquent for decades over the critically ...

  6. Freedom Of Speech In Malaysia Essay

    Explains that freedom of speech is the fundamental liberties in order to build a democracy country. Explains that hate speech leads to core issues in society, such as race, religion, and sexual orientation. malaysia restricts freedom of speech compared to america, which is more open minded.

  7. Elon Musk Is Right About Free Speech on Twitter

    A long history of free-speech jurisprudence backs him up. Elon Musk, in his effort to buy Twitter, signaled that under his ownership, the company would allow all speech that the First Amendment ...

  8. Freedom of speech Definition & Meaning

    The meaning of FREEDOM OF SPEECH is the legal right to express one's opinions freely.

  9. What Employee Speech Is Protected in the Workplace?

    Employees don't have a constitutional right to free speech at work, but employers still need to be aware of other federal and state laws that do protect workers' speech in certain situations.

  10. What Does Free Speech Mean?

    Freedom of speech includes the right: Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag). West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war ("Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate."). Tinker v.

  11. The FCC and Speech

    Speech regulations are confined to specific topics, which usually have been identified by Congress through legislation or adopted by the FCC through full notice-and-comment rulemaking or adjudicatory proceedings. These topics include: indecency, obscenity, sponsorship identification, conduct of on-air contests, hoaxes, commercial content in ...

  12. Freedom of Speech Essay for Students in English

    In the name of freedom of speech, hatred, tensions, bigotry and violence too cannot be caused in the society. It will then become ironically wrong to allow freedom of speech in the first place. Freedom of speech and expression should not become the reason for chaos and anarchy in a nation. Freedom of speech was stifled when article 370 got ...

  13. National Day of Hate should remind us of the limits of free speech

    National Day of Hate should remind us of the limits of free speech. By. Mark Goldfeder. & Gabriel Groisman. March 02, 2023 06:00 AM. L aw enforcement officials nationwide issued warnings to the ...

  14. Why is freedom of speech important: 5 reasons I

    However, the definition of free speech does not protect every kind of speech. Like all fundamental rights the right to freedom of expression is not absolute, meaning it can be subject to limitations provided they have a legal basis. The limitations must meet two conditions: 1) they are proportional - the limitations are no stronger than needed to achieve their aim 2) they are necessary and ...

  15. What is the freedom of speech?

    The freedom of speech is simply the ability to say, write, or otherwise express what you truly believe without fear of punishment or retaliation from the government. This freedom is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that "Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech."

  16. Three cases that show what free speech means

    The freedom to choose your words: Cohen v. California (1971) Nineteen-year-old Paul Cohen was arrested for wearing a jacket in a California courthouse that protested the draft with an obscenity. A lower court said that Cohen had the right to speak out against the draft, but not the right to do it with obscene language in a public place.

  17. Freedom of speech

    Adopted in 1791, freedom of speech is a feature of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. [16] The French Declaration provides for freedom of expression in Article 11, which states that: The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man.

  18. Freedom of Speech

    According to Article 19 (1) (a): All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. This implies that all citizens have the right to express their views and opinions freely. This includes not only words of mouth, but also a speech by way of writings, pictures, movies, banners, etc. The right to speech also includes the right ...

  19. Journalism professor on 'Dilbert' creator Scott Adams and free speech

    A journalism professor breaks down what the racist implosion of 'Dilbert' creator Scott Adams really says about free speech. BY Chris Lamb and The Conversation. March 3, 2023, 4:45 PM UTC ...

  20. Republican Senator Models Florida's Gun & Freedom of Speech Laws on Cuba

    Republican Senator Models Florida's Gun & Freedom of Speech Laws on Cuba. Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary, FL) doesn't like the First Amendment. He wants anyone who writes an opinion piece ...

  21. Texas Supreme Court Upholds Pro-Life Freedom of Speech

    The Texas Supreme Court handed down a major ruling on Friday, rejecting an effort by pro-abortion groups to silence a pro-life advocate who equated abortion with murder. The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and The Afiya Center and Texas Equal Access Fund filed nearly identical lawsuits against pro-life activist Mark Lee Dickson and Right to ...

  22. Deion Sanders Sparks Religious Freedom Debate at Colorado

    Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has been caught up in a fight over religious freedom three months after accepting the job as head football coach at the University of Colorado. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter of complaint to the university on Jan. 24 citing what it claims are "constitutional concerns with new football ...

  23. Freedom of speech cannot be cover for criminality, illegality and user

    Emphasizing that safety and trust cannot be sacrificed at the altar of freedom of speech and privacy, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, "For decades the model that was followed was that intermediaries were not accountable about the content on their platforms, and encouraged anonymity to prevent traceability of the illegal content. ...