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“Freedom of speech” embodied in the First Amendment is declared as “the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom” by Benjamin Cardozo, Supreme Court Justice.
Yet, even after more than 200 years of the Constitution’s first 10 amendments, there continues to be debate over what freedom of speech is.
This Human Rights issue explores the current problems, controversies, and court rulings about freedom of speech and the press. Of all the debates around freedom of speech, some disputes have been around for some time now, while others are new.
A common issue that is debated regularly is whether the freedom of speech can lose its constitutional protection over the usage of hateful or controversial speech.
As noted by Nadine Strossen, former American Civil Liberties Union national president, the public stand divided on this issue.
This is strengthened by numerous public surveys that show free-speech lovers abandon their support when questioned about controversial or hate speech.
Another closely related free speech issue is – “Should schools prohibit speakers whose messages are offensive to student groups on similar grounds of prejudice based on race and gender?”
This type of question is raised by those students who feel that hate speeches have no part on school/college campuses. It is unclear what stance these students take.
Another free speech issue that is very prominent revolves around news media freedom. There are a lot of “loud” discussions regarding the news media and what they report. This issue is especially raked up by media critics to discredit traditional news media as fake or fake media.
One more emerging issue that is making rounds is the usage of social media by public officials. The US Supreme Court recently grappled with whether the First Amendment protects an official’s speech on a private social media platform.
These issues are just the cherry on the cake, while there are many emerging debates on free speech, its use, and its misuse.
Whether we find the right solution or conclusion is another debate altogether, but these debates are not going down sooner. The fact is that though we love our freedom of speech, we are never moving away from debating over its scope.
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