Pros And Cons Of Freedom Of Speech

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“‘I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it’… 73% [of the 1,000 Americans surveyed by Rasmussen Reports in 2017] agree with [this] famous line by the 18th century French author Voltaire” (“73% Say Freedom of Speech Worth Dying For” 1). Of the Americans surveyed, 85% “think giving people the right to free speech is more important than making sure no one is offended by what others say [while] 8% think it’s more important to make sure no one gets offended” (“73% Say Freedom of Speech Worth Dying For” 1). So which holds greater importance, to possess complete and unregulated freedom of speech or to minimize how often people become offended by the words or actions of others? Before juxtaposing the pros and cons of regulating the freedom of speech, a few detrimental terms need to be defined. First of all, what is the freedom of speech? According to Larry Alexander in his book Is There a Right to Freedom of Expression, Freedom of speech, which is often used synonymously with freedom of expression, has always been thought to cover more than what is literally speech, that is, spoken language. For example, no one disputes that it covers written language as well as spoken language. Moreover, it is difficult to see how it could be withheld from sign language, pictograph, pictures, movies, plays, and so forth; and, indeed, the legal protection afforded freedom of speech in countries such as the United States has been extended to all of these media of communication and expression, as well as to abstract artistic and musical performances. (8) For the purpose of this paper, the freedom of speech will be divided into three categories: literal or spoken speech, written speech, and symbolic speech. Now the questions arises, who or what determines the quantifications of the freedom of speech? It is widely understood that the freedom of speech is a human right, “a moral right that can be validly invoked by any person at any time or place” (Alexander 3); however, the court’s cannot expound the actions of a convicted person based on human rights; therefore, under the Espionage Act of 1918, four individual cases set forth the court's ability to interpret free speech. These cases include:
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