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The System of Federalism and the Impact on Free Speech

By:   •  March 11, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  982 Words (4 Pages)  •  164 Views

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MARCH 3, 2018



According to webster dictionay, the definition of federalism is as follow, “the distribution of power in an organization between central authority and the constituent.” According to google dictionary the definition of freedom of speech is “the right to express our opinions without censorship or restraint.” In our present situation, our government is the central authority and We the people are the constituents. Drafted in the Bill of Rights, in the First Ammendment, we have the right to Free Speech. But who determines what constitutes free speech. Is it us, the people or is it the federal government? To me it should be the people who determine what free speech is. But the federal government has a say in what we can or can not say. Based off of the definition of freedom of speech, since the government can censor what we say, do we truly have freedom of speech? What did our founding fathers really mean by this? P. A. Madison stated on the Federalist blog that the founding fathers intended freedom of speech to mean one thing, “Freedom of speech and of the press served one purpose in America: To remove the fear of the common law doctrine of seditious libel so citizens could freely speak or publish without license their grievances against public policy or conduct of public officials. One of the distasteful things found under the common law was the government practice of criminalizing or shielding itself through requiring license to publish of any criticism it felt made people dissatisfied with their government or government established religion.”

There have been many times when Freedom of Speech has been put to the test.  A positive impact of Federalism on Freedom of speech is it is a gift to all Americans. In America you have the opportunity to speak openly on how you feel about certain topics, an opportunity that a lot of countries do not have. Freedom of speech is seen as a basic right and is essential to democracy. It is essential due to the fact that the government is put in place to help us. We are able to use are voice and share our opinions with them on what we are thinking.  By allowing us to speak freely the government can get a feel for what the people are wanting and how they feel about certain topics. This is key to the success of democracy. Along with these things, another positive of Freedom of speech, the government can not dictate what is written by the papers or broadcast on the news. Freedom of speech gives Americans the opportunity to truly express their views.

While the positive is great, there are many negatives to this concept. One example that I like is the Westboro Baptist church. This group of “Christians” spew what I view as Hate speech at soldiers funerals. As a veteran this makes me extremely mad. Types of things they say are Thank god for IEDS, soldiers are being killed because of our countries support of gays.  To me these statements are very hurtful, and hateful towards the families burying a loved a one. But because of Free Speech the were able to do this. Until President Obama signed an act banning protests at the funerals of service members. There have been restrictions placed on freedom of speech by the government that bring the question of whether or not it is a violation of our basic constitutional rights and whether or not there is actually true freedom of speech.  Also even though we have free speech, the government can interpret threats as the see fit. So not everything we say or do is protected by the First amendment and freedom of speech. People who send threats to elected officials in the government can be tried and punished for their "protected rights" to say what they think. Sometimes speech can be considered a crime. Some instances of this are, terroristic threat, malicious harassment, also when some threatens to kill or cause physical harm.


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