Freedom of speech, our first amendment right.

A right that wasn’t handed straight to us that many people had to fight for.

A right that this country is well known for; but is there a way to abuse this given right?

Our First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” 

Our First Amendment guarantees freedom concerning many things, most importantly freedom of speech. 

However, the First Amendment doesn’t protect certain things.

 It doesn’t protect libel which is publishing a false statement that damages a person’s reputation, also known as slander, as well as does not protect obscenity which is extremely offensive expressive language, behavior, or pictures. 

An example of obscenity is the break in at Capitol Hill. 

The First Amendment also does not protect sedition which is a conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against authority. An example of sedition is holding a meeting or planning a rebellion, revolution, or riots (where have we seen this happen before?). 

The First Amendment does not protect incitement, behaving unlawfully or provoking someone else to behave unlawfully. 

Fighting words, or words that indicate that you want to challenge someone to fight are also not protected by the First Amendment.

Classified information that the government has deemed or thinks is sensitive information is not protected by the First Amendment.

 Copyright, which is using someone else's work that is protected by the copyright law without their permission, is also not protected by the First Amendment. 

In short, the First Amendment doesn’t protect a lot of things that many believe it to protect.

Now that you have an idea of what our First Amendment is, protects or doesn’t protect  let’s get back to our question. 

Is there any way to abuse that freedom or right that we have been given? 

Teachers, Staff, and Students have been asked this question here at Costa Mesa High School and here is what they said.

Mr. Macdonald, a history and AVID teacher here at Costa Mesa High School, said, “Freedom of speech is paramount to the success of the government.” 

He believes that freedom of speech is important to our government, as it has the power to build our government or tear it down.

“While freedom of speech is very important and underpinning our nation's core. We must always consider the responsibility we hold as neighbors and Americans. We have the responsibility to choose those words wisely, and use them constructively to be better,” said English Language Arts teacher Mrs. Kahawai. 

She believes that freedom of speech is important to not only our government, but our nation as a whole and our communities within; we should be responsible for the things we say because words have the power to break and build up.

 

Mr. Hancock, a Journalism and Music Tech teacher here at Costa Mesa High School said something along those lines as well. 

“Overuse, no, irresponsibly use, yes. It’s legal to spread misinformation about the Coronavirus or the vaccine but it's irresponsible to do so.” 

Both Mrs. Kahawai and Mr. Hancock believe that we can’t overuse our freedom of speech but we can use our words irresponsibly. 

Let’s now take a look at what our students think.

“I believe that freedom of speech is one of the most important aspects of America. However, it should only be used to make positive change, not for saying things that could hurt others,” Courtney Roum, a freshman, stated. 

She also believes that freedom of speech is extremely important in our country and that it should be used to say kind things to make good changes using words that build people.

“I believe that people can overuse freedom of speech by being mean to people or using unkind words,” said another student. 

Our First Amendment that guarantees our freedom of speech is truly a gift that many people in other countries don’t have, so use it wisely. 

To fight for things you believe in, to speak for those who don’t have a voice, and to make true change in our nation.