April 18, 2014

Importance of Freedom of Speech

The importance of freedom of speech can be seen from the remarkable historical speeches of many great leaders. We all have the right to express our opinions truthfully and openly, it’s perhaps a pity that more of us don’t exercise that right.

The whole concept of Freedom of Speech has generally evolved into a freedom of expression. Congress is not permitted to limit or inhibit the manner in which individuals choose to express themselves. This applies not only to speech and the written word; it also encompasses other means of expression such as music, art or the wearing of armbands and symbols to promote beliefs.

This does not, however, mean that you can say what you like whenever it takes your fancy. Far from it, for example, if a person was to falsely shout ‘fire’ in a crowded shopping mall or theater, or ‘shark’ on a crowded beach, this is certainly not covered by the Freedom of Speech, neither is speech which incites racism, sexism, ageism or any other ‘ism’ for that matter. False speech is not permitted also, for example libel or defamation. So, in a nutshell, Freedom of Speech covers all that is truthful, or is the expression of an opinion.

The Importance of Freedom of Speech

So why is it so important to be able to freely express our thoughts and opinions? Well, it’s our constitutional right isn’t it, and if we’re allowed to do it, then don’t try to stop us, even if many people don’t execute that right very often. It’s been a long time since many of us stood on a soap box and tried to convert the passing public to anything from religion (there are so many to choose from these days, with new ones popping up all the time, or so it would seem) to vegetarianism. What does Freedom of Speech really mean to the citizens of the United States of America?

  1. It promotes and encourages the free flow of ideas from which our democracy was formed, preserving democracy and all of the democratic institutions.
  2. Promotes important ideas and ideals, uncovering the truth and making our leaders accountable for their actions.
  3. Opens the minds of the speakers, and the listeners to different views and ideas.

Many famous historical figures have used their rights to freedom of speech and there have been some pretty amazing and influential outcomes. Be honest, who doesn’t come over all emotional when hearing Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech delivered when he was actively promoting civil rights, or when Patrick Henry famously said “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death” in 1775, that one’s certainly stood the test of time hasn’t it?

There’s no denying it, this Freedom of Speech business has certainly had an influential hand in the course of history, in fact, every important major twist and turn has evolved in part due to the exercise of free speech. Freedom of speech could therefore be vital to the continuation of humanity as we know it.

What was it William Wallace shouted as he was being savagely disemboweled – “FREEDOM” – or was that just Mel Gibson?