Free Speech Must be Protected

Freedom of Speech Must Be Protected

    On January 7, 2015, 13 employees from the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo died. They were shot by two Islamic terrorists as a response to their last cartoon, which depicted Muhammad in an offensive way. After this controversial shooting, many people started arguing about whether freedom of speech gives one the right to offend people or does not. Many Muslims were on the “not” side while other people thought freedom of speech was more important. In my opinion, freedom of speech does give one the right to offend people.

    One of the reasons that I believe freedom of speech gives one the right to offend people is that the First Amendment states that everyone has the right to express their opinion without punishment from the government. Charlie Hebdo is a magazine that believes it is okay to make fun of people. However, they are only sharing their opinion, but they are not deliberately offending people for no reason. They just have opinions about religious extremists and figures that may be offending to other people. They should not be shot for expressing their opinions through cartoons.


    Another reason for my opinion is that freedom of speech technically allows for all opinions (except for deliberately offensive ones) to be freely expressed by society. Expression of opinion, as stated by the ACLU, “allows each individual to realize his or her full human potential.1 It is necessary for society to share opinions and knowledge with each other, therefore helping it grow. Restricting it would result in many people keeping their possibly beneficial ideas to themselves and not contributing it to society’s knowledge.

Freedom of speech should therefore remain protected at all costs.

    Many people would disagree with my opinion because they find that free speech, in this case hate speech, sometimes causes more harm than benefits.2 They believe that it should not be okay to highly offend someone with an opinion. Although this could be true, it is already illegal to offend someone only because you want to harm them, for that is called fighting words. Charlie Hebdo, on the other hand, does not deliberately offend important figures for no reason. They share their opinions, just like everyone else who writes articles, draws cartoons, or speaks about their opinions about an important subject; they do not deliberately intend to harm people. After all, you can just ignore opinions that may offend you anyways, for Voltaire said “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”3

    In conclusion, this is why I believe that freedom of speech gives one the right to offend people. It is stated by the First Amendment that one can freely express his opinions without punishment. Freedom of speech allows for all opinions to be expressed, even if they might be offensive. Hate speech, even if it can harm many people, is still a form of freely expressing an opinion, therefore it should remain defended. All of these reasons are why I believe that freedom of speech allows one to offend people.    


1. American Civil Liberties Union. "Stand up for Free Speech" Censorship. Ed. Andrea C. Nakaya. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Freedom of Expression." 2002.Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

2. Martin, Liam. "Hate Speech Should Be Regulated." Civil Liberties. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Hate Speech: Free Expression or Clear and Present Danger?" American Chronicle. 2007. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

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

Written by
Josh L


Social Studies:    SS7CG1b, SS7CG2a, SS7G8c, SS7G8d

Common Core ELA: ELACC7W1a-e, ELACC7L1-6