Because freedom of speech carries such importance, it also carries the danger of being misused. People use speech to cause other people pain, and for their own personal gain. Media often takes their freedoms too far, impinging on the private lives of civilians. Despite these problems, speech must be protected. By look at the arguments made by Charles R. Lawrence in his essay "On Racist Speech" and by Susan Jacoby in "A First Amendment Junkie," the reader is clearly drawn to the conclusion that, while speech can be misused, all speech must continue to be protected, since any limitations could cause major implications for everyone.
Yet should freedom of speech be censored Charles R. Lawrence, in his essay, explains "when racist speech takes the form of face-to face insults, catcalls, or other assaultive speech aimed at the individual or a small group of persons, it falls directly with the "fighting words" exception to the First Amendment protection" (Lawrence 1). Yet even angry words, words meant to provoke, have value, and are speech. What about words not meant to provoke, but do For example, people everyday in the United States are beaten or raped for being gay or lesbian and all they said was "I am gay." Those are not fighting words, but because they incite someone to violence, then are they not protected By excluding any words, all words are under danger of attack. Lawrence goes on to explain that the United States Supreme Court has described "fighting words" as that "by their very utterance to inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" (Lawrence 1). Could not all words fall under this category Injury to a person varies from person to person, and while words may be unkind, they are never cause for violence. It is when an exception is made saying that some words are so hurtful that a person must physically hurt another person to fix the wrong, that words become dangerous. All first amendment rights must be protected and upheld, no matter how hurtful the words can be, because if they are not, people will start to find "fighting words" everywhere and there will still be no peace.
Susan Jacoby, author of "The First Amendment Junkie," is s strict interpreter of the First Amendment rights. She insists in her article that "You can't OD [overdose] on the First Amendment, because free speech is its own best antidote" (Jacoby 31). She suggests that all speech, regardless of the level of offensiveness it has, should be protected. Honestly, she is right. While one group may argue against the use of racist speech, another against sexist, and another still against pornography, they are both arguing for and against the First Amendment. They are using speech to demand the limitation of speech. Most importantly, they have opened a dialogue. Now people will think about what they are saying. If a good point is made, maybe there will be limitations. That has happened with sexist speech. People opened a dialogue, and changes were made. Now, nasty gender based jokes are not allowed in the workplace, to limit the negative environment. Is that limiting speech Yes, and no. Yes, because a person can not be sexist at work, no because it is allowed in other places (e-mail, bars). Most importantly, they fought with words, not with violence.
When people chose to use words instead of violence, they are being safe. They