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Freedom of Speech

For use with Talking Point worksheets

Moderator: TalkingPoint

Freedom of Speech

Postby TalkingPoint » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:44 am

What is Freedom of Speech?
Freedom of Speech means that people can express their ideas and opinions verbally without fear of interference, limitation or censorship. Weighty documents such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have enshrined this freedom as a basic human right.

So what is the difference between Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression?
Freedom of Expression is a broader term than Freedom of Speech including, as it does, forms of expression other than speech – books, banners and even forms of artistic expression, for example. In addition, it protects the right to search for, receive and communicate information and ideas as well as covering the means by which information and ideas are expressed. As such it includes modern modes of communication, like the Internet.

Are these Freedoms absolute?
In theory, yes, but in practice realistic limitations are placed on them. The law of the land must be taken into account, for instance. Giving speeches and carrying banners which incite hatred are not permitted by law in many countries, in an effort to maintain law and order. The prohibition of activities like these is an example of Freedom of Expression being curtailed.

Champions of Freedom of Expression
Through the centuries there have been many defenders of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression, from the Ancient Greeks to the modern day. Perhaps one of the first, in the West at least, was the poet John Milton. In the mid-seventeenth century he wrote Areopagitica in which he put forward several arguments in favour of free speech. Centuries later Noam Chomsky pointed out that believing in free speech means believing in free speech for all, even those whose ideas are diametrically opposed to your own. In the light of this, perhaps the most interesting champion of free speech was Evelyn B. Hall, a British writer, who is alleged to have said "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!"

Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. Freedom of Speech means that people can __________ their ideas and opinions verbally without fear of interference, limitation or censorship.

2. Freedom of Expression is a __________ term than Freedom of Speech.

3. The law of the land must be __________ into account.

4. Giving speeches and carrying banners which incite hatred are not permitted by law in many countries, in an __________ to maintain law and order.

5. Through the centuries there have been many __________ of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression.

6. Noam Chomsky pointed out that believing in free speech means believing in free speech for __________, even those whose ideas are diametrically opposed to your own.
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