Is freedom of speech in America still necessary?

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Answered by: Ahmed, An Expert in the Civil Liberties - General Category
The most treasured and irreplaceable aspect of our Constitution is its inelastic adherence to ensuring freedom and the individual rights of citizens. None of the liberties enshrined in our charter statement have proved to be as imperative to the continuation of a free society as the ability of citizens to speak their minds without fear of penalty, persecution or imprisonment. The bedrock of expression and civil discourse in the modern era is freedom of speech in America, as prescribed by our founding fathers in the U.S. Constitution. So it has been in this country, through peaceful times of prosperity and plenty and those few occasions when the nation has been at war. In order for the United States of America to remain that last bastion of hope for the individual rights of man, most important among them the freedom of speech in America, we must continue to protect and preserve our Bill of Rights and allow people of disparate political persuasions to speak freely, unimpeded.

There are certainly moral exceptions to a person being allowed to say anything they please. If words are designed to spread secrets of state to other nations that would do us harm, that would be treason. If one were to shout "fire!" in a crowded enclosure, that individual may find himself arrested for inciting a riot. At the same time, it is no crime to be heard advocating the positions of known hate groups like the KKK or others. This is due to the fact that while many or even most people may find such views to be distasteful and offensive, that alone is not enough to block the right of such individuals to express their opinions.

It is understood in this country that the majority does not always know best. Throughout our long, and at times dark, history, it has on occasion been unpopular to give voice to causes that history would later judge to be righteous. These include the abolitionist movement against slavery, the suffrage movement, civil rights and others. The exercising of free speech by citizens in largely responsible for the pressuring the government to end the unpopular, and in some views, unrighteous war in Vietnam. It is in times of disagreement when the principle of freedom of speech should be treasured even more.

Our entire Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, is a living document, which means it is susceptible to change over time as needs arise. How then would it be possible to "create a more perfect union" if individuals were barred from offering valid criticisms of the prevailing law of the land? The founding fathers knew that no system of government is infallible. There are times when it falls on private citizens to voice their concerns and redirect the path of a wayward nation. Injustices must be addressed, issues must be discussed, common Americans must have a seat at the table. For that reason, freedom of speech in America is still as necessary today as it has ever been.

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