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Freedom of Speech - Essay Example

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Although the freedom of speech is considered to be a constitutionally guaranteed feature of our country’s democratic system, it is however quite possible for an individual to give a hate speech in the event that the speech given happens to promote a message of exclusion and…
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Freedom of Speech
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Freedom of Speech Freedom of Speech Although the freedom of speech is considered to be a constitutionally guaranteed feature of our country’s democratic system, it is however quite possible for an individual to give a hate speech in the event that the speech given happens to promote a message of exclusion and create a hostile environment.
According to Boss (2009), fighting words are words whose utterance has the effect of either inciting the immediate breach of peace or the infliction of injury. Fighting words are usually employed in the conveyance of visceral and direct contempt or hatred for other individuals on the basis of factors such as nationality, color, religion, race, handicap or ethnic origin. The victims of fighting words are usually silenced by their relative powerless position in society. A common presumption that is usually made by the fighting words doctrine is that an encounter between two individuals that relatively have equal degrees of power will generally result in violence.
Boss (2009), points out that freedom of speech is often described as being a liberal right; in this regard we all have an innate right to express all of our opinions without having to face any interference or inhibition from other people or the government (Paikin, 2014). However, Boss (2009) cautions that not all forms of verbal expression can be considered to be speech and similarly to most of the other liberty rights,freedom of speech is considered as not being an absolute right. All societies place limits on speech with the objective of preventing the occurrence of civil disorder and violence which in turn helps society in protecting its citizens against harassment, threats and fraud.
Boss (2009) defines hate speech as labels that are generally understood to be insulting references that denote other people’s characteristics such as gender, religion, race, and sexual orientation.
The government can largely be considered as acting in an heteronomous manner when it moves to curtail the people’s freedom of speech. This is because there are now wide ranging concerns over how the government exercises censorship. The notion of censorship has traditionally been based on the assumption that the government and people in positions of authority have access to the truth and as such are well placed to make final decisions as to what exactly should be considered to be good and right. However, this authority has in recent years come under heavy criticism as a result of the fact that as a result of some perceived heteronomy on the part of the government. An example of this is the formulation and implementation of the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act makes it legal for law enforcement officials to now be able to search people’s bookstore and library records in addition to also eavesdrop on both their local and international conversations. As such, it can be perceived that the government does not constrain itself with the same restrictions that it enforces on its people. Heteronomy on the part of the government is not a feature that is only unique to the United States, this is demonstrated by a talk given by Pamela Geller (2011), where she narrated how her friend was put on trial on hate speech charges after having produced a short documentary film on the 9/11 terrorist attack. According to the Dutch criminal court, it did not matter if what the film portrayed was true, it was still against the law.
References
Boss, J. (2009).Analyzing Moral Issues.McGraw-Hill Education.
Geller P. (2011). Truth is the New Hate Speech. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLzlQ7WrvfQ
Paikin, S. (2014) Free Speech: At What Cost? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8kcNJLpRJ4 Read More
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