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Free Speech

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dguy
Words 856
Pages 4
David Guy
Professor Adams
English 102
January 30, 2013
Free Speech
Since the birth of this great nation, free speech has been among the key facets that hold it together. The founding fathers felt the need to restrict the government’s power by sharing that power with the people through the passing of the First Amendment. This amendment states that the government can pass no law limiting the freedom of speech or press (“Freedom of Speech”). After all, if it hadn’t been for religious persecution, the pilgrims would not have left England to found a new nation. As Americans, we can express our opposition of the government’s actions and goals without repercussion. One form of free speech, elections, allows us to cast a vote for the candidate we see best fit to have a roll in our government. The idea of free speech suggests an equal partnership between government and citizen rather than an oppressive relationship seen in Communist countries like China and Cuba. Countries like these have developed using Communist methods, and for the most part relinquishing free speech rights from their citizens. Free speech guarantees the absence of tyranny and provides the most beneficial relationship between government and citizen. In the early 1620s, the first pilgrims came to the New World seeking religious freedom, but they ironically did not implement that idea into their culture. They had been denied the right to free speech in England because they held different beliefs than the Church of England. According to the Puritan document, “An Abstract of the Laws of New-England”, it states that any person who doesn’t conform to the church’s doctrine shall punished by banishment (Arlandson). So freedom of speech really only applied to those in agreement with the Puritan church. Thankfully, that is not the America we live in today. Thomas Jefferson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, said that “civil punishments of unbelievers or nonconformists would produce only hypocrisy or meanness in them”. The founding fathers all believed in true freedom of speech and religion, so the First Amendment was drafted guaranteeing all US citizens freedom of expression. When writing the Constitution the delegates knew they had to prevent these free states of America from developing a tyrannical monarchy like that of England’s under King George III. Free speech was implemented to keep America a democracy. Free speech has been a controversial topic throughout history. It hinders governments from having complete control. Adolf Hitler knew this, so when he came to power he made it a point to suppress free speech and gain complete control and loyalty of the people. After he turned Germany into a one-party dictatorship, Hitler launched a massive propaganda campaign (“Nazi Propaganda”). The Nazi Propaganda Ministry took control of all forms of communication in Germany. Book burnings took place, libraries were raided by Nazis looking for any literature with non-Nazi ideals (“Nazi Propaganda”). Once Germany turned into a brainwashed Nazi state, free speech was no longer a problem. Everything the Nazi Propaganda Ministry said became absolute truth to the German people. Everything the German people then spoke was in accordance with Hitler’s agenda because propaganda is all they knew. Free speech became an illusion. Now we look back at Hitler’s Germany and can plainly see that, but at the time, sadly, Germany didn’t. Today, Germany still is attempting to account for the atrocities that took place under Hitler. There is a minority of the Nazi generation that denies the fact that the Holocaust took place, and it is causing controversy on the free speech issue. Germany has written free speech into their law, but there is an unofficial line drawn concerning the Holocaust’s victims and survivors. The Basic Law is basically a German Constitution and provides free speech to all citizens providing one’s personal respect is not compromised (James). Today, most free speech limitations involved holocaust deniers causing racial pain and defaming the dead. One case that made headlines was that of Ernst Zündel , who was deported from Canada to be tried in Germany on charges of inciting racial hatred and defaming the dead (James). He has been associated with a German website promoting the denial of the Holocaust and anti-Jewish literature. Germany believes in free speech, but not at the expense of Holocaust survivors. Free speech is vital to a successful world. Without free speech, we as a society could not make social advancements. The term has had various meanings, as demonstrated by the early Puritan settlers and modern day Germany. Free speech is a tool, if used properly, to maintain a delicate balance between a government and its citizens.

Works Cited Arlandson, James. "America the Blasphemous?" Articles:. American Thinker, 30 Sept. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.
"Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press." Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press.
Lincoln University, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.
"The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students." Nazi Propaganda and Censorship.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.
James, Kyle. "Trial Highlights Limits of Free Speech in Germany." DW.DE. Deutsche
Welle, 20 Feb. 2006. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.

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