Restricted Speech In America

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Restricted Speech

America is the land of the free, and the home of the brave. The right of free speech is the most exercised when an individual is a citizen of the United States of America. This gives citizens the right to express their opinions verbally. This begs a question: Where does the right to speak begin to exceed the limit of free speech? Many individuals exceed this right by threatening others. Individuals who violently threaten others should not be protected by the right of free speech because it suggests violent acts upon others. Although it may provoke violence, some may argue that those actions are simply exercising the right of free speech.

Many teenagers provoke each other by the act of bullying. Bullies act on verbal or digital harassment, which causes troubling events to the victims. Individuals who bully others should not be protected behind their rights, because by doing so, it puts other individuals in harmful situations. Americans have a right to express themselves in many ways. Artists express themselves by either writing music, or creating pieces of art that some may label as offensive. Individuals may argue that offensive music and art should be brought to a minimum. People who demand a limit on art should not receive such a request because then it restricts the artists right to free speech and expression.

Individuals who act dispurpivley as protest during a public event where one is giving a speech should not be allowed. Action should be taken to those who prevent one from speaking, because it is argued that this act violates the right of free speech. Individuals who are employed by a company may be restricted to what they can and can’t say to ensure professionalism. Individuals may argue that some ways an employee may dress should be limited because the company has standards. Although some may argue that threats, bullying, demanding a limit on artists, protestors, and employers are simply exercising their right of free speech, these acts exceed that right and should have a limit on what is considered free speech.

Verbal threats towards hospital staff, prison guards, and social workers is an issue that is rarely spoken of in America. An individual has the right to speak their opinion on another individual, but some take a step too far. Prisoners affected with AIDs or HIV threaten to infect prison guards by spitting on them (Thomas, 1999). Hospital staff members debate whether to leave the field due to the high amount of verbal abuse. 95% of registered nurses report at least five incidences where they have been verbally abused per month (Zigrossi, 1992). Peggy Hoffman, vice president of Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, observed that “for years, people that work in health-care institutions and mental institutions and correctional institutions viewed these things that happened to them as an inherent part of the job,” (Thomas, 1999).

This act should be taken seriously, given that individuals speak of doing harm to another; However, no action has to be taken until physical harm has been done. Americans should limit the right of free speech and take action towards these threats to prevent future harm. Public schools are widely exposed to bullying. Many individuals question what is considered bullying, and argue that children and teenagers are simply giving their opinion on each other. Most Americans consider this act a “normal childhood experience” that has been overlooked by school staff and authorities (Jacobsen & Bauman, 2007). Bullying must intend harm, must be repetitive, and the victim and instigator must have social and or physical differences to initiate domination (Olweus 1993).

Cyberbullying is the act of harassment online. Most instigators are anonymous because they have the protection of a digital screen. The act of cyberbullying can happen at any time of the day, and as often as the bully desires. Verbally or virtually bullying an individual may include destructive comments towards ones appearance, threats, speaking untruly of others, and teasing (Gale 2018). Verbal bullying has been an issue that little action has been taken to prevent, because authorities cannot control what one may say; However, if ones speech causes mental harm such as little amounts of psychological well- being, high amounts of psychological distress, and poor social adjustment, many people may argue that this act should be restricted if ones words intend such harm (Rigby, 2003).

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Legal action should be taken if a bullie’s words cause an individual to harm to themselves physically. From the beginning of time, art has been the heart of many cultures. From photographers to choreographers, the human body has been an inspiration to create such art. Whether it be complete nudity or slightly provocative, many individuals find this form of art offensive and demands that it should be taken off the market (Myrie, 2005). Individuals have a right to their opinions and beliefs; However, how one may act upon exercising this right may be exceeding the limit of free speech. In public places such as art galleries, nudity is displayed as art.

While many people may argue that censoring nudity must be demanded for the sake of young eyes, individuals have a right to express their likings and entertainment. Individuals who find this form of art offensive have the choice and right to not look at it. If individuals frown upon nudity in art galleries, they have the choice not to visit that certain gallery. The human body is not only displayed in art galleries, it is sung about in the music industry; However, the music industry has a wide variety of genres, and individuals who find certain language offensive may chose to listen to another genre. The individuals who dislike nudity and provocative language are not being forced to see or listen to such art; Therefore, Americans should not limit the artists creations and ban certain art and music, giving Americans freedom of speech on both sides of the argument. Protesters have been around since the 1960s; actively persuading the public into making the right choice (Guild National Lawyers, 2006).

Citizens of America have the right to protest in an assembly because it exercises their right to the first amendment (Guild National Lawyers, 2006). A protest is an act of which a group of people who share the same view assemble and express an objection to a certain subject; However, many Americans question where the line is drawn between a protest and a riot, and to what extent does protest violate the right of free speech. A riot is a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd of individuals. A protest may occur when an individual is speaking about a subject that many individuals may disagree on. Ann Coulter is an American conservative who has viewpoints that many individuals disagree with. These individuals assemble in protest, challenging her viewpoints when she speaks.

Coulter planned to speak at UC Berkeley; However, the event was canceled after protestors threatened violence (Svuluga, 2017). Public speakers should not be fearful of speaking because individuals protest in violence. Individuals who disrupt a peaceful speech and silence the speaker can be argued that they are violating the speaker’s right of free speech. A violent protest that silences the speakers can be argued that it then turns into a riot, which is illegal and violates the first amendment. The first amendment protects the right of free speech; However, many individuals may ask how protected is an individual when one is employed and at work. An employer may control an employee’s pay rate, but can such power control what the employee is allowed to say or wear at work? Many individuals may argue that the right of free speech protects what one can say, yet being employed by another may restrict that right when one is in the workspace (Benedict, 2008).

An employer may argue that the way an employee presents themselves should be modest and professional to accommodate with the company’s high standard; However, the employee may argue that their freedom of speech and expression is being violated. This begins a debate that questions if the employer is allowed to request what the employee should and should not wear at work. The employee has a choice to work with such a company, and the employer has the company’s standards to uphold. If the company does not stand for what an employee suggests, and if the employee wishes to work for the company, they should respect the standard that is professionalism. Many individuals disagree with how American teachers are limited in the way they educate children, and question the teaching methods required to inform students of basic knowledge; However, a teacher’s freedom of speech must be limited to prevent the next generation’s chance of not being properly educated (Benedict, 2008).

Teachers must follow the academic rules and regulations to properly educate children, and should be restricted to follow only what the state and school provides as academic resources. By restricting employees and teachers, some argue that it protects the company’s reputation and ensures that the next generation is well informed academically. American citizens have the right to speak freely, but one may argue for a limit of speech to prevent harm to others. Individuals who threaten others cause terror to the individual of whom they are threatening. Speaking to suggest the intention of violence should not be a right that Americans can exercise, because inducing violence and physically harming a citizen is illegal. School systems and authorities should draw a line between free speech and bullying. Individuals who bully may drive the victim to harm and risk their well being. Freedom of speech should not be protecting individuals who bully others to induce mental or physical harm.

While individuals have the right of expression, artists should be protected by the first amendment when a group of people demand a limit on what art should be made public. Free speech and expression should not be taken advantage of to induce harm. Individuals may peacefully protest to stand for what they believe in; However, when the protest becomes violent and forcefully silences speakers, this act should be considered a riot. Speaking freely while the group is not allowing another to speak is violating the other individuals right to speak freely. Many employees believe that they have a right to speak and dress how freely they want while they are at work; However, if the company which they are working for requests professionalism and a limit to an individual’s speech and conduct, the employee has no other choice but to either resign, or follow the company’s standards. Individuals may feel entitled to free speech in every situation; However, if such actions bring harm, violence, or violation of conduct, then there must be a limit to what Americans consider free speech.

Works Cited:

  1. Benedict, Louis M. The First Amendment and Academic Freedom: Faculty as Employees and Citizens, Bowling Green State University, Ann Arbor, 2008. ProQuest,
  2. Gale, 2018 “Bullying.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, 30 Sept. 2018. Guild, National Lawyers. “Your Rights to Demonstrate and Protest.” Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources, edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., Gale, 2006, pp. 26-29.
  3. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 30 Sept. 2018. Jacobsen, Kristen E., and Sheri Bauman. “Bullying in Schools: School Counselors’ Responses to Three Types of Bullying Incidents.” Professional School Counseling, vol. 11, no. 1, 2007, pp. 1-9. ProQuest, Atkinson 8 Myrie, Evelyn. “City Hall Wrong in its Nudes-in-Art Gallery Ban.” The Spectator, June 25, 2005, pp. F09. ProQuest, Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Rigby, K. (2003). Consequences of bullying in schools. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48, 583-590. Svuluga Susan, William Wan, and Elizabeth Dwoskin “Ann Coulter Speech at UC Berkeley Canceled, Again, amid Fears for Safety.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 26 Apr. 2017, Thomas, Don. “Threats Common, AUPE Charges; Guards, Social Workers, Hospital Staff Decide to Go Public with Complaints.” Edmonton Journal, May 15, 1999, pp. B5. ProQuest, Zigrossi, Suzanne T. Verbal Behaviors Perceived as Abusive by Hospital Staff Nurses and Supervisors and Influence on Intent to Leave the Organization, University of Rochester, Ann Arbor, 1992. ProQuest, Atkinson 9
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