Acceptable or Not?

Free Speech: Acceptable or Not?

Freedom of speech has become a significant source of conflict following the Paris terror attacks on January 7, 2015. Gunmen attacked the satirical magazine company Charlie Hebdo that published pictures of their prophet Muhammad; an action considered to be very offensive.1 Some believe that it is not reasonable to offend someone’s beliefs, while others consider free expression acceptable. I feel that freedom of speech does give one the right to offend others. It is an important right that gives the people power in a country.

Freedom of speech is an important way to improve a country. John Stuart Mill, a political philosopher, feels that the best judgement is only possible if one considers all opinions; even those opposing your own views. He says that without free speech there would be no progress in science, law, or politics without open discussion. It is also important in that freedom of expression is the base of all of our rights. It’s a fundamental privilege that makes rights like freedom of religion possible.

Furthermore, freedom of speech was considered a basic right. According to the Bill of Rights, the Congress is prohibited from making laws banning the use of free expression. The founders felt that everyone should be entitled to an opinion whether it be negative or positive. Under colonialism of the British, their people had no rights. They had no authority to speak their thoughts and disagree with their government’s actions (high taxes for example). It was important that under independence their people had the right.

Many disagree with free speech. A lot of times they argue that some things are offensive to their minority group or religion. This is understandable, however there are some things that aren't offensive to others, making it hard to keep everyone pleased. Also, being disrespectful may be rude, but there has never been a law respecting “discourteous” speech. (except for obscenity, libel, and fighting words). People are never going to accept everything they hear. The best solution is to take no notice of it.

Freedom of expression is a contentious topic. Some people feel that it is not acceptable to offend someone’s beliefs while others see free speech to be more important. I feel that it is acceptable to offend people because it is an important way to improve the government and it’s necessary to speak about things you disagree with. The United States would not be considered a republic if there were no freedom of speech.2 Also, freedom of expression was put in the First Amendment and therefore was important to the founders. This shows how they felt that everyone should have the right; something they didn’t have under colonialism. Regardless, people shouldn’t be imprudent with what they say.


1. Parker, Rick. “Freedom of Speech Lecture notes and Presentation.”  7th Grade AC Social Studies. JJ Daniell Middle School. Marietta, Georgia. January 16-20, 2015.

2. Levendosky, Charles. "Free Speech Must Remain Protected." Should There Be Limits to Free Speech? Ed. Laura K. Egendorf. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. At Issue. Rpt. from "Free Speech Relies Upon Those Willing to Fight." Progressive Populist (May 1999). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

Written by
Peter L


Social Studies:    
SS7CG1b, SS7CG2a, SS7G8c, SS7G8d

Common Core ELA: ELACC7W1a-e, ELACC7L1-6