Today’s discussion about Freedom of Speech is a topic on the May 10-Minute Teacher calendar. Download a copy from the link below, hang it on your fridge, and use it to initiate a conversation with your kids anytime.
Today, people are always expressing themselves. Sometimes we do it in a blog post, other times we share our thoughts on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. We also talk to friends, family, and strangers about our religious beliefs, our political views, and everything in between. Freedom of speech is one of the most basic elements that allow us to continue in a democratic state. We have the right to talk about our choices and share our opinions with others, and to oppose things that we feel are detrimental to our liberties. With this freedom, we can speak out when we feel there is a wrong and ask others to help us make things right.
The first amendment was included in the Bill of Rights, a document that was created to address important elements that many felt were missing form the new Constitution and was implemented in 1791.
The First Amendment to the Constitution includes Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Here is a brief description from Scholastic.com:
“Freedom of Speech. This freedom entitles American citizens to say what they think, provided they do not intentionally hurt someone else’s reputation by making false accusations. Neither may they make irresponsible statements deliberately harmful to others, such as yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. There are many issues about which Americans disagree, from child-rearing practices to baseball teams to Presidential candidates. Freedom of speech enables people to state their opinions openly to try to convince others to change their minds.
The First Amendment also gives you the right to disagree with what others say without fear of punishment by the government authorities. However, if you make an outrageous statement, such as, “The earth is flat,” free speech will not keep people from making fun of you. If you express an unpopular opinion — for example, that students do not get enough homework — don’t be surprised if your classmates avoid you. The First Amendment does not prevent social or peer pressure to conform to what others think.
Freedom of the Press. This freedom makes it possible for Americans to keep informed about what is going on in government. It helps them to be responsible citizens. Reporters and editors can criticize the government without the risk of punishment, provided they do not deliberately tell lies. Newspapers, magazines, and books, as well as television and movie scripts, do not have to be submitted for government inspection before they are published. This censorship would violate the First Amendment.” (Source: Scholastic.com)
Questions for conversation:
1. What do you think life would be like if we did not have freedom of speech?
2. What kind of news do you think we would see in the newspaper if there were no freedom of the press? Do you think there would be a newspaper?
3. What kind of speech or communication is not protected by freedom of speech?