Freedom of speech is the most cherished liberties in the United States of America; this freedom, however, often conflict with other rights and liberties. Freedom of speech and First Amendment are often interchangeably used but do not refer to similar thing. The various positions that have been taken by the courts and political commentators concerning the meaning of the First Amendment indicates that there will be no single principle of First Amendment speech that can bear the problems of freedom of speech. First Amendment framework can, however, inform the debate on freedom of speech. The First Amendment framework will highlight the issues and the questions that will be asked of free speech. First Amendment provides the criteria by which participants and claimants will judge and organize the controversies surrounding free speech.
The First Amendment framework has dominated modern American debates, both political and legal regarding the freedom of speech. Free speech must, therefore, meet the criteria that are set out in the First Amendment. The criteria of free speech that are inconsistent with the First Amendment are unrecognized or considered faulty and dismissed. The First Amendment has endured more than 200 years without any chance and alteration. This stability is the testament of its significance and role in United States of America (Nelson 19).
Freedom of expression is understood to mean all activities such as publishing, petitioning, speech and assembling and al wordless actions that communicate messages. The First Amendment says that the congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of people to assemble peacefully and to petition the government for redress of their grievance. Freedom of expression, particular freedom of speech, in the United States of America is long established and widely accepted, though; it is a contested constitutional right or principle. Based on arrangements of a legitimate government and limits of democracy, there is always lack of consensus on what freedom of expression entails and how it should be applied (Nelson 21).
The value of the freedom of speech and expression plays a critical role in a modern democracy. The lack or the absence of legal guarantees of the freedom of speech is a critical criterion that is judged by a democratic or an authoritarian. Freedom of speech often goes unconstrained in a legitimate government. Freedom of speech is limited by national security interests and constraints that are aimed at protecting the dignity and reputation of an individual. This legal limitation represents an ongoing tension in balancing the interests of the state and that of individuals with the interest of fostering rich, vigorous and uninhibited public discourse on one hand and protecting the personal dignity and interests of an individual on the other hand.
Freedom of expression with relations to the general public has been justified in the following three main spheres: search for truth, upholding personal development and democracy. Freedom of speech contributes to the development of democracy and we should accept the fact that free speech results in truth; free speech is, therefore, a valuable tool in democracy. Freedom of speech rights entails balancing and cost-benefit comparison. Balancing involves examining specific facts of each case and articulating competing rights and interests that are at stake. The balancing of freedoms of expression with public rights and claims involves judging the interest of the government in curtailing free speech against the interests in the First Amendment (Nelson 26).
Nelson, Samuel P. Beyond the First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech and Pluralism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Print.