An introduction to the right to freedom of expression

Members of Westboro Baptist Church pictured in have been specifically banned from entering Canada for hate speech. In Europe, blasphemy is a limitation to free speech. Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both.

An introduction to the right to freedom of expression

Members of Westboro Baptist Church pictured in have been specifically banned from entering Canada for hate speech.

Before plunging into the details of the proliferating controversies over freedom of expression on the Internet, you need some background information on two topics. The first and more obvious is the Free-Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Freedom of expression is an important human right which is essential for a society to be democratic. It enables the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information and thus allows members of society to form their own opinions on issues of public importance. The right to freedom of expression in paragraph 2 is the freedom to communicate opinions, information and ideas without interference, no matter what the content.

Justifications for limitations to freedom of speech often reference the " harm principle " or the "offense principle".

Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both. However, Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression: Feinberg wrote "It is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably be an effective way of preventing serious offense as opposed to injury or harm to persons other than the actor, and that it is probably a necessary means to that end.

But, as offending someone is less serious than harming someone, the penalties imposed should be higher for causing harm. There is no longer an argument within the structure of the debate to resolve the competing claims of harm. The original harm principle was never equipped to determine the relative importance of harms.

A number of European countries that take pride in freedom of speech nevertheless outlaw speech that might be interpreted as Holocaust denial. Ohio[29] expressly overruling Whitney v.

An introduction to the right to freedom of expression

Paulin which the Supreme Court ruled that hate speech is permissible, except in the case of imminent violence. The Internet and information society[ edit ] The Free Speech Flag was created during the AACS encryption key controversy as "a symbol to show support for personal freedoms.

Inin the landmark cyberlaw case of Reno v. Dalzellone of the three federal judges who in June declared parts of the CDA unconstitutional, in his opinion stated the following: Because it would necessarily affect the Internet itself, the CDA would necessarily reduce the speech available for adults on the medium.

This is a constitutionally intolerable result.

Introduction to Freedom of Expression

Some of the dialogue on the Internet surely tests the limits of conventional discourse. Speech on the Internet can be unfiltered, unpolished, and unconventional, even emotionally charged, sexually explicit, and vulgar — in a word, "indecent" in many communities.

But we should expect such speech to occur in a medium in which citizens from all walks of life have a voice. We should also protect the autonomy that such a medium confers to ordinary people as well as media magnates.

The Government can continue to protect children from pornography on the Internet through vigorous enforcement of existing laws criminalizing obscenity and child pornography.

The strength of the Internet is chaos. We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organisation. It is central to the Information Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits of the Information Society offers.

This includes factual data, personal datagenetic information and pure ideas. The commodification of information is taking place through intellectual property law, contract lawas well as broadcasting and telecommunications law.Freedom of Speech in America Introduction.

Freedom of speech is the right to articulating one’s ideas and opinions without fearing the government of retaliating, societal sanctioning or censorship.

Freedom of expression & media

The right to freedom of expression upholds the rights of all to express their views and opinions liberally. It is essentially a right which should be promoted to the maximum extent possible given its essential role in democracy and public participation in political life.

Freedom of speech and expression would include artistic speech as it includes the right to paint, sign, dance, write poetry, literature and is covered by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution because the common basic characteristic of all these activities is freedom of speech and expression.

Freedom of expression is also the right to voice opinions in common.

An introduction to the right to freedom of expression

It gives the majority and the minority each the chance to be heard and the minority the opportunity to become the majority. Most importantly, freedom of expression is the right to challenge any form of state tyranny by force of words and ideas.

Introduction to Freedom of Expression As previously mentioned about substantive due process, when the state is interfering with a person’s interest that is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, the state’s interference needs to be analyzed using the framework developed by the Supreme Court for analyzing federal inteference under the Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.


It prohibits any laws that establish a national religion, impede the free exercise of religion, abridge the freedom of speech, infringe upon the freedom of the press, interfere with the right to .

OHCHR | SR on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression