Freedom of Speech Discussion

Learning Goal: I’m working on a website development writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

As stated in Gift of Fire, the First amendment was written to protect offensive and/or controversial speech and ideas. There is no need to protect speech, in any form including publication, that people do not object to. Some ideas may be considered offensive by most people; some ideas may be offensive to relatively few people. The following list is information or material that can be found on the Internet that some groups/legislators/governments have tried to ban:

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  • Hate groups ( (Links to an external site.))
  • Pornography
  • Nazi materials/memorabilia
  • Abortion information
  • Anti-abortion information
  • Alcoholic beverage advertising
  • Depictions of violence
  • Some political speech/information
  • Some religious speech/information
  • Information on how to build bombs
  • Medical information (a doctor argued that people were getting bad medical advice)

This is not a comprehensive list. While different countries have different laws protecting (or prohibiting) freedom of speech, all of this information is legal within the U.S. There may be some restrictions on who is allowed access (i.e. in the U.S. it is illegal to distribute pornography to minors). All of the information listed above is available in other formats (books, magazines, newsletters, movies, TV, etc.), however, the Internet has made such information easier to access at any time. For this reason, many feel that the Internet should have some restrictions. A U.S. federal judge ruled that “as the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the Internet deserves the highest protection from government intrusion.”

How do you feel about freedom of speech on the Internet? Do you feel some ideas/information should be subject to censorship? Why or why not?

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