Theories Of Freedom Of Speech

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Freedom of speech in the United States is guaranteed under the First Amendment. Despite this being a right, there are many different theories that have developed over the years in order to defend freedom of speech or arguments that wish to restrict speech more than it currently is. By comparing and contrasting the theories of free speech, I will explain why the law currently regarding freedom of speech is reaches the expansiveness in which the freedom should carry and the justification for it. Before the theories are explained, we should outline what parts of speech are currently not protected under the First Amendment. Unprotected speech includes obscenity (for example, works that lack serious value), fraudulent misinterpretation, defamation…show more content…
Emerson says freedom of speech is justified when it is used as: a way to attain the truth (taken from Mill), a way to assure individual self-fulfillment (taken from Redish), a way to secure participation by people in society (taken from Meicklejohn), and a way to balance stability and change in society (Lecture 8.2). Emerson combines the main components of each argument and forms it into something that protects freedom of speech from multiple points. Mill’s component is used as a means to protect and uphold truth, and he adds his own component at the end to balance out society as it changes with time. He uses Meicklejohn’s component to protect participation in voicing political goals/discussions and involvement, while remembering to include the right to expression, autonomy, and growth, taken from…show more content…
However, I also believe Emerson leaves some room in his theory for unprotected speech. Regarding current unprotected speech, I believe his point of attaining the truth would mean he does not support defamation and fraudulent speech. Defamation and fraudulent speech would be the exact opposite of obtaining truth. His aim to ensure political participation would also not protect fighting words, imminent lawless behavior, or cases of obscenity, because they can carry the weight to obstruct people from partaking in not only political discussion and participation but also general
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