Imagine a dictionary with half of the words blacked out. Imagine turning to the news on television and each channel advocates for governmental affairs, or all papers are written by ruling authorities.
To Americans, this nightmare would call for a rally on the White House’s front lawn. Yet, for 63 percent of 196 countries, freedom of speech is a dream rather than a reality.
As a student journalist, the right to free speech is essential to my job. If a popular campus restaurant shuts down due to health code failures, I have an ethical right to report my findings to students.
I got into journalism because it is a career where objective people are trusted as sources for truthful information.
The First Amendment itself is an indication to the reverence of free press. After being restricted by Great Britain during its colonial days, leaders-to-be agreed that residents, media included, of the U.S. should always have the liberty of personal expression.
The very framework of this country is rooted in the freedom to argue our thoughts without government censorship.
In the country run “by the people, for the people,” I have read about journalists who have gone to jail for protecting sources. There are whispers about journalists who are in secret prisons because of information they were waiting to release. Now, an “anonymous” source on a blog leak could be a well-known reporter. Sadly, the changing definition for freedom of speech now parallels with the rising influence of the Internet.
Regardless of future restrictions, free expression will always be worth its value. When it comes to free speech, we journalists, more than anyone, are going to defend our rights to address the facts of any situation.
People, even the ones who do not enjoy us, turn to journalists for the details. If leaders manipulate our voice, then no one will believe the news, and the truth will be left to speculation.
Without freedom of speech, we would all function more like work mules.
In certain regions of the world, citizens are not taught to speak out against laws they do not agree with. Some women are not allowed to disagree with their husbands, and countries will make grisly public examples of those who write for changes to their restrictions.
Free speech and free press should be a global civil liberty. If people cannot speak for themselves, there is no sense in teaching them.
History leaves us this principle from Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”