Speech Is The Right Of Freedom Of Speech

1560 Words Mar 28th, 2015 7 Pages
George Washington once said "If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." This mentality still holds true in the United States today where the freedom of speech is held as one of the greatest rights Americans possess. However, to fully understand the first Amendment right of freedom of speech it is paramount to understand what it entails, its limitations, and how it has evolved over time. The first question that must be answered is what is the constitutional right of freedom of speech in the United States? According to the first Amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."(Constitution) Freedom of speech gives the right to openly discuss grievances, ideas, beliefs, opinions, and allows an individual the ability to express themselves without fear of punishment. However the freedom of speech that is known today is not the same as that experienced in the infancy of the United States. During colonial times the legal rights of men were based on English common law, including freedom of speech, and many aspects of speech were not protected. For example, in 1612 a person in Virginia was sentenced to death for what was considered religious blasphemy and a 1646 law in Massachusetts punished…
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