Do People Really Have Free Speech

This is a very touchy subject, especially about freedom of speech in America.  For years I have questioned the idea that Americans have the right to freedom of speech. I do not want my opinions or comments taken as outrageous and offensive.  Many would even say I have no right. However, isn’t that the argument?

What is it that defines freedom of speech? I thought about the context and voiced my opinion. The definition of freedom of speech is “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.” The definition is derived from the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” I will tell you that “censorship” and “restraint” caught my eye. Then I remembered all the times in my lifetime and parts of our culture where we do not have freedom of speech. It is everywhere. On a small scale, you get sent to your room for being “smart” to your parents or “speaking the truth”.  On a larger scale, you can be jailed for starting a protest.

Another big example is the Internet. The Internet can be a fascinating research tool. However, it can be a cruel and unusual place for some.  You cannot state your opinion about the subject without being bashed or ridiculed for saying it. Unfortunately, what America has is the freedom to be phony within marketing and advertisement. If you go to work, you cannot say what is truly on your mind. You have to lie to run for any kind of public office. If you are honest and have integrity, you won’t be hired. Most top jobs require you to lie, it requires you to have no integrity, and that is the norm in business culture in America. In reality, USA is one big decadent culture. On the other hand, nobody has the legal authority to stop or punish your speech, unless that speech presents a clear danger to public safety (i.e. yelling “fire” in a crowded theater), if it involves the planning of a crime, or in some cases, if it has the effect of causing financial or other harm to individuals. What they do have is the right to criticize your speech, to verbally attack you for it, even to blatantly lie in an attempt to discredit you. It’s the same right that you were exercising when you provoked their attack.

Yes, we have freedom of speech by constitutional law, but it appears we do not have the right to our own opinions.

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