We the people, may speak in any manner appearing satisfactory to needs and wants due to our possession of the freedom of speech. Although this statement may portray itself as accurate and truthful; in fact, the entire idea feeds from common misconceptions. A vast measure of Americans hold dearly to a distant from reality view on the rights and freedoms delivered to new generations as an invaluable heirloom. The uninhibited freedom to speak falls prey to limitations bound by diction chosen to define its mechanics encompassing intended capabilities.
Therefore, when Americans begin ranting with ideas ranging from brilliant philosophies to lunatic conspiracies through the facade of entirely free speech, numerous times the results prove unbecoming and unfulfilling. In an essay drafted by Roger Rosenblatt called We Are Free to Be You, Me, Stupid, and Dead he conquers the controversial issue of when free speech has gone too far. Rosenblatt argues the unique opportunity provided by eccentric exhibits of free speech stimulates growth and mandates expansion of the mind (502). Without its presence, thoughts would never find opposing challengers and innovation would never find willing inventors.
Although, occasionally inappropriately represented, the right to employ a voice and opinion plays the utmost importance in promoting the United State’s positive continuation. Contrary to copious benefits, the freedom of speech also entails negative responses strenuous to the country’s peaceful existence. In recent years, the right to expression has discovered a new outlet to project from, the Internet. People fearlessly bash and bully behind screens blind to the blasphemy blatantly brought into existence by their devoted venue service.
Opportunity to elease hateful and discouraging views radiates through social media as people across the country participate in ‘Twitter fights’, ‘throwing shade’, and ‘cyber-bullying’. These seemingly mundane occurrences become propelled by the endless power initiated by the availability to speak freely without physically being seen. Although not always appearing an issue, the harm emanating from the surplus of distasteful voices located on the Internet pioneers devastating effects on extensive collections of people. American teenagers hold the greatest susceptibility to hurtful side effects from exceedingly unrestrained cyberspace speech.
According to surveys conducted, “Forty-three percent of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last year” (Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts 1). For those undeserving adolescents their lives become eternally scarred by times of depression, remorse, and thoughts of anger and revenge, “Over 50 percent of teens felt angry after they were cyber-bullied. Roughly one-third of teens felt hurt, and almost 15 percent of teens felt scared by cyberbullying experiences” (Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts 2).
What dangerous decisions the country’s youth pursue due to emotions enticed and elicited by hectoring comments online range from life altering to life threatening; ergo, suffering harsh damages. In Rosenblatt’s essay he brings forth the interesting point, “You think you know what you will tolerate” (501),in reference to zealot displays of speech. The Internet holds the answer to that ponderable statement and proves free speech can be taken too far; ask anyone agonized by unrelenting critiques born through usernames, profile pictures, and status updates.
Nevertheless, freedom of speech warrants creativity and self expression unattainable through any alternative channel available. Ideas can only conceive a legacy if profoundly pondered, combated, improved, and exposed. Roger himself encountered the critical cycle for brain strengthening while traveling in less sovereign countries stating of his experiences, “The mind expands, the mind settles, then is shaken up, resists, and expands again” (503). As Americans unleash the turbulent reflections trapped inside, the world can be introduced to radical improvements, observations, and speculations that lead to paramount alterations.
For example, before the United States found establishment The Federalist Papers, a set of essays and articles written by an author under the pseudonym Publius, circulated and induced action. Even though the ideas appeared fanatical they planted a seed of thought and as it grew it quickly sed along like dandelions in the wind. Soon, people knew the change they sought, why they so desperately required it, and were drafting plans to acquire it; regardless to the fact that their freedom to speak was still being abridged by oppressors.
One of the later revealed authors of The Federalist, lames Madis accurately stated, “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty” (BrainyQuote). Numerous instances in today’s society, issues of enormous significance seize prevalence by speaking freely about the contention at hand and thus augmenting acknowledgment and setting in motion the expounding of freedom and equality. In addition, freedom of speech partakes in such vast portions of everyday life that limits applied would spiral out of control into profuse quantities of other intertwined sectors of activity.
Therefore, not only would one right be constrained but also multitudes of additional rights would be subjugated. Forms of language and communication assume quintessential roles in nearly all functionings underwent in the country including protecting other rights. When Roger Rosenblatt commenced composing his essay he traveled abroad to find legitimization for his reasonings, recalling that, “it has been instructive for me to spend time in places where freedom was limited” (502). He unearthed the tragic implications of relations lacking free speech and the real terrors that can commence when he attempted to evacuate a hotel in Tbilisi.
The clerk told him, “that another, more fluent, clerk would be along shortly… “Would you mind coming back in fifteen years? ” (Rosenblatt 503). The sheer atrocity of this innocently disguised question comes from the honesty in which it was spoken, Mr. Rosenblatt very probably could have been held in the hotel for fifteen years because when his ability to correspond disappeared so did his ability to protect himself. How could Americans defend and preserve the liberties promised if they lose one of the most significant weapons of defense they possess?
In recent years, citizens have experienced such difficulties; one business fighting a case of eminent domain bravely expressed their opinions on a sign outside the shop only to be reprimanded and forbidden from keeping the sign displayed (Institute for Justice). As the battle to use their voice continues, an attorney working for freedom attested, “This case demonstrates just how intertwined our constitutional rights are—how protecting free speech is essential to protecting our other fundamental liberties, including property right. ” (Institute for Justice).
Once one realizes the magnitude of free speech, one cannot but agree with Rosenblatt’s argument. Furthermore, to withhold and inhibit free speech will never entirely eliminate the voices being smothered. As Roger Rosenblatt endured in countries of constrained inhabitants, “the secret publication of books, the pirated music, the tricky subversive lines of poetry read at vast gatherings of tens of thousands. And the below the surface comedy” (503) will continuously arise no matter the discouragement present. In a country founded on its freedoms, the retraction of any of those privileges will be met with extreme adversity.
Moreover, “since free is the way people’s minds were made to be” (Rosenblatt 502) the restriction of verbal expression will only cause riots and outrage. Currently, various universities and colleges have faced the backlash of unjust speech limitations on their campuses. One student attending a college in Arizona prepares to sue the school for, “her school’s so-called “speech zone,” arguing the policy “severely limited” her right to free speech and due process” (Harkness). Reactions to a decrease in the liberty to speak freely induces immediate retaliation and hardship, in addition, to being entirely unnecessary.
To keep the peace and stability, the United States must keep the freedom of speech as it was intended to be used, freely. Overall, as Roger Rosenblatt stated and explained in his article defending the freedom of speech, the United States must not procreate censorship of any greater extent on its citizen’s voices. In fact, “The Founding Fathers had actually meant it when they allowed someone to do something that would outrage the rest of us” (Rosenblatt 501). Without America’s free speech, the country would wallow in despair and angered uprisings.