Advanced Technical Centers History Paper

Do you think there should be further free speech restrictions on social media? Was Twitter’s previously policy of suspending incendiary accounts justified?

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Based on what you learned from the reading this week, the recorded lecture and the website above, please write a one-page (double-spaced) response to the prompt below.

Reflection Paper #3 Prompt:

3) Do you think that the limitations placed on free speech in The United States are too restrictive, not restrictive enough or just right?

SSP 245: Law and Human Rights
in The United States
Professor Anja Vojvodic, Winter 2023, Fall II Session
Lecture 3
Lecture 3: Introduction to Free Speech
 Our Constitution protects the right to free speech
 In fact, this human right is enshrined in the First Amendment of The Bill of Rights:
 “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of
the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
 This amendment has become a fundamental and crucial part of our culture
 But it is also at times a source of controversy
 When does speech become dangerous? Is offensive speech illegal?
Inspirational Quotes
 “Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other
form of freedom.”
—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo in Palko v. Connecticut (1937)
o …[The] constitutional right of free expression is powerful medicine in a society as diverse
and populous as ours. It is designed and intended to remove governmental restraints from
the area of public discussion, putting the decision as to what views shall be voiced largely
into the hands of each of us, in the hope that the use of such freedom will ultimately
produce a more capable citizenry and more perfect polity.”
—U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan in Cohen Vs. California (1971)
Essence and Importance
 Freedom of Speech thus grants every American the human right of self-expression
 Expressing one’s ideas and opinions is at the very heart of democracy and should be at
the heart of every progressive and forward-looking society
 Without debate and discussion, rooted in truth, a country cannot improve
 Therefore, The Supreme Court has generally favored the right to free speech over other
competing rights, such as governmental interests
Qualifications and Limitations
o Free speech is not absolute, there are restrictions to pure speech, speech-plus and
symbolic speech (such as burning a flag or displaying offensive symbols)
o Imminent danger and lawless action
o Defamatory Speech: libel, particularly written with malicious intent
o Obscenity, standard is high
o Incitement/Fighting Words
Open Questions and Controversies:
 Free Speech on the Internet, social media
 Free Speech on College Campuses
 The role of Speech in American cultural division
 When to be Silent
 Knowing Your Rights
UDHR Preamble and Article 19
 Preamble: “Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous
acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in
which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear
and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people”
 Article 19
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom
to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and
ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Free Speech in Other Nations
 Free Speech is generally protected in most nations
 However, in some authoritarian nations, speech, press and religion are not free
 China is an example of a country where censorship exists
 The United States is one of the freest countries in the world in terms of speech
 Do you think this is a good aspect of our society? Or should there be limits to this also?

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