Are Limits on Freedom of Speech Ever Justified?
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Most people in democratic states emphasize that freedom of speech is a necessity. For example, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the U.S. Bill of Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights usually stipulate that freedom of speech is a fundamental human right. These documents usually underline that Congress is not supposed to make any law that respects the establishment of religion, abridge the freedom of speech or the press and redress the rights of people to resemble peacefully. Every person has freedom of opinion and expression (Sadurski 24). In this perspective, every person has the right to make their own opinions to make hold their own opinions without any form of interference. People also have the freedom to express their opinions or ideas through any media regardless of limits imposed.
The United Nations General Assembly Resolution stipulates that every person has the freedom to express their opinion. In this perspective, everyone has the right to hold opinions, receive or impart information without any form of interference from a public authority. In this perspective, states can broadcast television or cinema enterprises without the interference of public authority. However, the exercise of these freedoms is supposed to encompass certain duties and responsibilities. This is explained by the fact that they are subjected to formalities restrictions and penalties which are prescribed by the law of a democratic society.
These duties and responsibilities that are exercised in the freedom of speech are supposed to ensure that the interests of national security, public safety, protection of others rights, maintain the authority of the judiciary, prevent confidential information from being disclosed, prevention of a crime, and for the protection of morals (Sadurski 12). When people are not given the right to exercise their freedoms in a democratic society, they often become chaotic. In this perspective, therefore, governments in democratic states ensure that people are allowed to practice their democratic rights in their country. Hence, the goal of this paper is to discuss whether the limits of freedom of speech are ever justified.
The limitations imposed on the freedom of speech can be justified by the presence of certain people who are often offended when it is used to mock certain people. For example, in places of work, there are people who engage in certain activities in order to mock certain people who they regard as inferior. In this perspective, therefore, it is important to note that even though people are engaged in certain activities to express your freedom of speech, it is important to ensure that they do not offend other people by relaying the message (Wayne 5).
People would not be in a position to ask brave questions against the government or the church if there is no freedom of speech. If people have full respect for their government or the church, they would always keep their mouth shut. The first amendment in the freedom of speech is aimed at preventing people from being persecuted for their own ideas. Many people have misused their freedom of speech in the past, thereby leading themselves to be prosecuted for their own ideas. However, if an idea violates the rights of a person, then it should not be allowed. In this case, it is not necessary for people to be beaten up or be disrespected just because certain people think that they do not have value in the world or because of their skin color (Sadurski 5). However, people should not do things that offend other people.
Every person should hold himself responsible for any speech that he directs to harm another person. For example, a person may issue a speech that may cause a slander or cause certain people in a room to panic. In this perspective, an issue arises on whether one would need to limit when any person has the ability to sue another for the damages caused (Alexander 43). However, one needs to understand that the law only gives criminal remedy to something that is treated as civil.
There are various groups that become as offensive as they can to certain conservative groups. In this perspective, they normally harass, picket, threaten or even boycott. From this perspective, they can feed any strong response by ensuring that they increase the power of the government. In this perspective, they would shift the media to be on their side, thereby making the story to favor them. On the other hand, most conservatives are usually regarded as meek and they always try in vain to make sense of the childish behavior that the liberal groups engage in (Wayne 6). In this case, the liberal groups usually abuse the rights of the conservatives by stipulating that the exercise of rights by the conservative group in an abuse of the rights of the liberal groups.
Therefore, in this perspective, the solution would not be to limit the freedom of speech through the government. In this case, one needs to stand up to the bullies and claim for individual rights. For example, in high school, the best way to defeat a bully is not to cry or run to the teacher. The best mechanism to cope with this situation is by ensuring that the offender is punished and not care whether bullies would also be punished by the school. Though the government has abdicated their rights to protect the rights of citizens, it has also been noted to be busy inventing entitlements which infringe the citizens’ real rights (Alexander 44). It is, therefore, important for citizens to ensure that they do not give in to the pressures by the government and fight for their real rights.
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In an article where the Supreme Court ruled out that teachers and students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech at the schoolhouse gate, this state of affairs should be regarded as horrendous. This case can be attributed to the controversy that is observed in the books that teachers are allowed to give to their students. This also covers the extent to which the teachers are allowed to talk about books. In this perspective, most students are normally led to believe in concepts that are not fully correct. In this perspective, the teachers are normally not allowed to express their opinions on how they feel about such situations (Powers 56).
This mostly happens in elementary and high school levels of the system of education. In this case, the students do not realize that they are being given garbage information since they are not in a position to differentiate between what is right or wrong. In this perspective, therefore, one would argue that the limiting of free speech among teachers promotes false education to the students.
Therefore, it is clear that the Supreme Court tries to shield students from the real world. In this perspective, it is not right to treat students like uneducated people when they go to school to learn. It is important to ensure that the students are made to learn the truth. They need to understand that the world is not close to perfection. It is important to deliver to the students that the world today is characterized by issues such as fatalities and controversies. In this perspective, therefore, it is important for the government and Supreme Court to ensure that by limiting teachers the freedom of speech would not in any way to help the students (Powers 56). On the contrary, it will only harm the upcoming future generations. Therefore, it is evident that when people are limited in their freedom of speech, they become inefficient in terms of knowing what the real world entails.
In colleges, for example, the censorship of information is usually carried out by other students. Most of these forms of censorship do not take legal forms. Most forms of censorship are carried out with the aim of preventing the bad light of certain groups from reaching the bigger audience. Thefts of newspapers that publish articles that comprise offensive information by various segments of the student body have been known to take place at an alarming rate since the 1990s. For example, in April 2002, a thousand copies of Texas Christian University Newspapers were stolen (Nelson 23). This extreme event took place because of two controversial articles that were published in the newspaper. The articles that made the newspaper be stolen concerned information about fraternity hazing and the other reflected a situation where a player in the women’s basketball team was accused of stealing a teammates’ credit card.
It is also true that college newspaper staffs are not immune to self-censorship. Some of the advertisements that are regarded as being very controversial do not get published. For example, in spring 2001 a conservative columnist, David Horowitz, made an advertisement to 48 college newspapers across the U.S. The publication was entitled “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery are a Bad Idea.” In this case, only 14 college newspapers published the advertisement. However, several of the colleges that published the advertisement later apologized. In this perspective, it is evident that conservatives are not the only ones whose right to free speech is ignored (Nelson 25). There have been incidences when advertisements which stipulate that advertisement is not murder have also been ignored.
It is clear that issues on whether free speech can be justified are not only evident at the college level or high school level. From the examples, one can see that censorship is usually carried out for various reasons. Some of these reasons are often trivial, whereas others are personal or trivial. Political speeches normally get a lot of attention and they are, therefore, the key targets for censorship (Cram 45). The infringement of free speech in schools and outside the education environment remains a controversial issue. With regard to the issue of whether there should be limits to free speech, many authors still wonder whether free speech should be unrestricted completely.
Most forms of expression are normally harmless and, hence, protected by the right to freedom of expression. However, while seeking or receiving information from certain societies, it is important for one to understand that there are those societies that can tolerate various incitements such as murder or sale of pornography to children (Hare and Weinstein 5). However, it is important for one to understand that freedom of expression is not absolute and it can be limited whenever it is found to conflict with certain rights.
International law requires that the freedom of expression should be regarded as a rule. The limitations that should be imposed must be aimed at protecting the rights and reputations of other people, national security, public order, public health, and morals. Freedom of expression should not be limited in the case of a public official. In order for the freedom of speech to be limited, the law must be applied that is entrusted by the lawmakers. In this perspective, therefore, it is important for the regulation to meet various standards that can help clarify so that people can see the consequence of their actions (Hare and Weinstein 7). If the actions are worded in a vague manner and appear as unclear, they would not be treated as legitimate and, thus, the information should not be treated as controversial.
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It is essential to have a legitimate aim so that the freedom of expression can be limited. For example, the limitation can be carried out in the case if it is aimed at respecting rights, protecting national security or sustaining public health, order or morals. In case if these conditions are not met, then no limitation should be imposed. Hence, it is true that any limitation to the freedom of expression should be truly necessary. This means that regardless of whether a limitation is in accordance with the law, it would only pass the test if it is regarded as truly necessary so as to help protect a legitimate aim. As a result, it is true that if a limitation is not needed then there is no need to impose it (Cram 24). In most cases when the international courts stipulate that national laws should not be impermissible to limitations, such limitations are not deemed to be necessary.
To sum up, it is clear that even though people should be allowed to practice their freedom of speech there are certain issues when limitation should be imposed. There are certain cases when people are allowed to communicate freely, this can lead to issues such as ruin of a person’s reputation, cause national insecurity, as well as destabilize public order, health, and morals. Therefore, in this perspective, it is important to ensure that before limitations are imposed that the issue in question is needed. Hence, limiting freedom of speech is justified in certain occasions.
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