freedom of speech
Origin of freedom of speech
Words nearby freedom of speech
MORE ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH
What is freedom of speech?
Freedom of speech is the right to express yourself publicly without the government interfering.
In the United States, the freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States through the First Amendment. (In other countries, freedom of speech may be protected or restricted based on a country’s constitution or laws.)
Although the term contains the word speech, freedom of speech extends to nonverbal means of expression, such as writing books, drawing pictures, wearing certain clothing, or performing dances.
Freedom of speech is often thought to mean that you can express yourself however you want in person or in media (including on the internet) without government interference. as long as you don’t break the law. In most cases, this is true in the U.S., since the Supreme Court has often ruled that the government can only restrict a citizen’s free speech if there is a credible fear of danger or threat.
However, there are some forms of expression that are not considered to be protected by the right to freedom of speech, such as speech that is thought to encourage sedition or insurrection against the government. Similarly, threatening to harm someone can be considered a criminal offense. The classic example of the kind of speech that is not protected is shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater (when it is not true)—due to it being potentially dangerous to others (the people in the theater).
There are some aspects of freedom of speech that are often misunderstood. The Constitution only protects your right to freedom of speech from the government. A private business, such as a social media platform or the company you work for, can restrict your speech if it violates their rules or negatively impacts their business. This is why social media platforms can ban people for violating the terms of service and why companies can legally terminate employees for some forms of expression, such as using language around customers that’s considered inappropriate.
Why is freedom of speech important?
In the United States, the right to freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, ratified in 1791. According to the amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.”
Although the amendment only mentions Congress, the Supreme Court has ruled that no government body can restrict freedom of speech.
The Supreme Court has also ruled that the right of freedom of speech protects even unpopular or offensive speech. For example, burning American flags (that you own) or expressing racist opinions is protected by the First Amendment.
However, the Supreme Court has restricted freedom of speech in certain circumstances that don’t involve threats or illegal activity, such as defamation, libel, fighting words, obscenity, and false advertising.
Besides these instances, the government is also able to restrict the freedom of speech of government employees. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can legally punish broadcasters who don’t make an effort to prevent children from being exposed to content considered inappropriate.
Did you know … ?
What are real-life examples of freedom of speech?
This photograph shows Vietnam War protesters outside the White House. The government cannot silence peaceful protests like this one due to the right of freedom of speech.
In general, Americans are fiercely protective of their freedom of speech, although many people do not realize that private companies can limit speech.
I'm so thankful for freedom of speech.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) November 21, 2018
Freedom of speech is essential to every function of our country. Medicine too.
— Dr. David Samadi (@drdavidsamadi) July 30, 2020
What other words are related to freedom of speech?
True or False?
The right to freedom of speech only applies to verbal communication.
How to use freedom of speech in a sentence
Those are troubling numbers, for unfettered speech is not incidental to a flourishing society.
There is no such thing as speech so hateful or offensive it somehow “justifies” or “legitimizes” the use of violence.
In other words, the free thinker defending freedom of thought.Houellebecq’s Incendiary Novel Imagines France With a Muslim President|Pierre Assouline|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
We need to recover and grow the idea that the proper answer to bad speech is more and better speech.
Tend to your own garden, to quote the great sage of free speech, Voltaire, and invite people to follow your example.
Alessandro turned a grateful look on Ramona as he translated this speech, so in unison with Indian modes of thought and feeling.Ramona|Helen Hunt Jackson
And so this is why the clever performer cannot reproduce the effect of a speech of Demosthenes or Daniel Webster.
For this use of the voice in the special service of will-power, or propelling force, it is necessary first to test its freedom.
He said no more in words, but his little blue eyes had an eloquence that left nothing to mere speech.St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
It was a life full of freedom, and I shall never cease to be grateful for it, but I must go home soon and look after my affairs.Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton
Cultural definitions for freedom of speech
The right to speak without censorship or restraint by the government. Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment (see also First Amendment) to the Constitution. (See clear and present danger.)