Freedom of Speech For AllThe American founding fathers put forth the principle of freedom of speech to protect the right of all Americans to freely speak their mind.

In past decades, this concept has been challenged on many levels, but the majority of attacks on freedom of speech have been struck down. We live in a society that heralds this right as a major part of being American. And in fact, this fundamental right is why many other nations around the world look to the United States for guidance in such areas.

The US is respected and revered for its principles in this area, and it is the foundation on which a truly democratic society is built.

Although the right of freedom of speech was developed in large part to protect the freedom of the press, with the advent of electronic media and the personal use of computers worldwide, it is now necessary to extend the concept of freedom of speech to these platforms. If a person’s right to gather peacefully, worship independently, and maintain their own opinion applies to all other aspects of life, shouldn’t it be that way online as well?

In reality, the Internet is simply an extension of our social, commercial, and financial medias, and should be awarded the same protections as they enjoy. Although there are those that argue that the Internet allows for an unprecedented level of information dissemination, there is absolutely no reason that this data should be any more scrutinized than what goes on in daily papers, television shows, or on the radio.

This is not to say that there should be no regulation; the Internet simply merits the same level of examination that all other media outlets require.

Having freedom of speech on the Internet is just an extension of having freedom of speech in all other areas of society. Of course, this is not something that should be taken for granted. As with all other forms of media or expression, there are those that abuse this right, and they should always be dealt with accordingly.

On the Internet, the same standards of decency, honesty, and intent should be upheld as is dictated by the law; however, this is where the government’s involvement should end. As is often argued, it should be up to individuals, parents, educators, and scholars to dictate what is or is not appropriate for themselves, not legislators.

There are those that argue that it is unlawful or immoral to allow online visitors to have access to material that some might find offensive. However, just as a consumer can choose whether or not to view a Rated R movie, listen to music with a warning label, or view legal pornography, so too can an individual decide whether or not he will navigate to a certain webpage on the Internet.

In short, freedom of speech is linked to freedom of choice. The majority of Americans would champion both of these rights. Regulating speech on the Internet would be a slippery slope leading to the demise of freedom of speech overall.

Because computers rule so many daily lives, the government’s involvement in legislating its content would undoubtedly open the door to the demise of that very freedom in many other areas of society that the courts have so diligently tried to protect.

Throughout history, the newspaper business, the television and movie industry, and musicians have had to fight for their right to speak their mind. In most cases, they have won. This pattern should be upheld, and freedom of speech on the Internet is the most logical stepping stone in a path to a continued free society.

We are not all lucky enough to live in a country where these freedoms are granted to all, and those of you at risk from persecution would do well to protect your online identity as best possible.

 

 

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