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Freedom of Speech: A Right No American Should Be Deprived Of
It is my personal belief that freedom of speech is a human right that no person, regardless of where they are living, should have to live without. The ability to speak freely and without fear of outside repercussions is one of the most valuable things Americans have but don't alway appreciate. While I would like for the people of every country across the world to be able to have free speech, I understand that that isn't the case. However, I believe that America can work to eradicate censorship worldwide and ultimately make the world a space where everyone can be open with each other and speak their honest opinion without fear of being crucified for it if it does not fall in line with the expectations of government officials. I believe that freedom of speech is an item that is key to supporting the American value of being able to criticize one's government and the American right to the pursuit of happiness.
Throughout history, there were many prominent figures who used their right of free speech to protest forms of government or political figures they opposed. Many figures used several different platform, like radio or public speaking, to discuss issues of war, race relations, and other hot-button topics. Civil rights figures such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. certainly would not have been able to make the lasting impact in the civil rights movement had it not been for their leadership qualities and public speaking abilities. Had people like them been censored by the government, who knows what the current state of race relations could be.
There are so many things in modern society that would not currently be valid or available had it not been for the introduction of free speech. For example, almost every entertainment industry, ranging from movies to music, would not necessarily be able to spread or make the works available that they want to. The press wouldn't be able to publish the stories that they deemed were worthy news if it violated what the government wanted to be displayed. a job as a journalist or any other sort of writer in politics would instantly become much more pressed to make stories or write works that only portray the government in a good light as well.
Freedom of speech/expression has also allowed many industries to arise that capitalize on the abilities of people to share and appreciate ideas or works with one another. The dawn of the online era has helped facilitate the spread of ideas even more. Sites like Soundcloud allow any user to post their music for other users to listen, while sites like youtube allow users to share video content with one another. Almost anything imaginable can be shared with people across the globe since the inception of the web. Many people have been able to capitalize on this privilege from a business standpoint by charging others to listen/see their work or charge subscriptions for others to access their content. Countless people have become extremely wealthy using just this, showing that a lack of censorship on the internet can open the gates to a whole new online industry that can help generate money for people with important things to share.
There have been many books published that deal with the implications of censorship. While some books simply detail why it is important to avoid censorship, their are other books that vividly illustrate some of the possible ramifications of living in a society of censorship. One of the most striking novels that comes to mind is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, a story about dystopian America in the future when all books are illegal and all media and shared content is government regulated. The book does a great job of illustrating dangers that could arise in such a heavily censored world, as well as illustrating the importance of being able to be open with your thoughts and share information with those around you.
To see clear cut evidence of how important the human right of free speech is to a functioning society, one need look no further than a country like North Korea, where free speech is not a right that the people are allowed. People in North Korea, and many communists countries as well, are not allowed to criticize their government and are forced to express themselves in a very particular, controlled way. This is very dangerous and unfair to the people living their, as they are not allowed to truly live their own lives and discover themselves by being truthful with how they feel. North Korea also has a very weak economy, which is no surprise considering how poorly treated the citizens are. North Korea is the perfect cautionary tale of censorship going way too far and causing serious damage in a community.
- North Korean Censorship Blinds Not Just the People, But Also Their Rulers
False media and official reports give distorted views of situations that need to be better understood, a North Korea expert says.
I can only imagine how terrible it would feel to live in a country where I do not have the right to speak freely. If my thoughts and opinions are being regulated, there is no way I would ever be able to learn anything meaningful for myself. I consider myself to be an outspoken person with strong opinions and I believe that growing up in America helped facilitate this aspect of my personality. I feel like if my government censored this aspect of my personality, then I would cease to be me and would instead just be an extension of the government itself. Not being able to be my true self would make me unhappy, and a society full of unhappy people is doomed to be unproductive. So if freedom of speech was prohibited in America, the personal implications for me would include a complete shift in my identity, and the implications for the society as a whole would most likely include a failure to be productive.
Freedom of Speech has affected my life positively in ways that I may never truly be able to understand. I will always take for granted how lucky I am to live in a country where my voice can be heard by all and I can openly express pleasure or frustration with whoever or whatever I want. The ability to speak freely has undoubtably made me a more social and honest person. I am sure other people in America feel the same way, as they most likely would not have been able to pursue what they are passionate about without being able to talk about it openly and comfortably. I have always been able to express myself exactly the way that I want to without fear of repercussion, and for that I will always be grateful.