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Be Careful What You Say!

Written By: calirollgrl on December 7, 2009 No Comment

America may be seen as the land of the great, with the freedom of speech and the press, but what does that really mean? That does not, but any means, mean that you get to say whatever you want whenever you want. For you see, according to the Supreme Court, there are rulings in which dictate how far you can really take your freedom of speech.

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union: The case looked over the anti-indecency sections in the Communications Decency Act, and the Justices of the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck the provision down, stating that it had violated the freedom of speech. This case is extremely important because it was the first case that the Supreme Court ruled in regards to materials distributed over the internet.

The act was unconstitutional and unreasonable with exception to obscenity and child pornography since the restrictions on the freedom of speech were extremely overboard. The Internet is therefore not a medium that the government can regulate such as broadcast media, and is instead classified as media such as the press and speech.

But nevertheless, that doesn’t mean we’re unrestricted. That just means that we must adhere to the restrictions placed on the Freedom of Speech. For example: time, place manner restrictions, fighting words and special cases such as obscenity. Fighting words are essentially words that lack public value and are said to insight violence. Obscenity is defined in the Miller test, and include pornographic materials that are unsuited for certain audiences. Slander is also not protected, so it is necessary to be careful to the validity of certain statements.

In the past, we’ve seen the hot debate as to if ‘Google’ should submit to the Chinese government’s insistence on censoring certain events and issues, and the government winning.  The idea of censoring speech is extremely relevant today as the students in Iran are being censored by the government because their organization on the internet is being regulated.

So the United States protects and respects the freedom of speech simply because of the founding principles the framers our country to be. Though the internet is a place where the wild things are, freedom is endless and the creative juices exempt you from any sort of brain finger typing filter, ultimately, what you post can taken down if it insights violence or is unfit for the public. Some blogs may lack social value, and there may be inflammatory statements made on the internet, but still, the internet remains relatively free with it being very rare to have content based restrictions.

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