The first amendment protects the freedom of religion, speech and the press, and assembly and petition of the citizens of the United States. Freedom of speech is one of the most important liberties that is given to Americans. It is also one of the most complicated, because it is difficult to identify how far courts should go in defending one’s freedom of speech. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and many individuals believe that hate speech must be defended, and the Supreme court has defended this side this many times. Much of the general public believes that hate speech shouldn't be tolerated or defended and that there should be restrictions on the freedom of speech. One of the most debated and controversial topics in the news today regarding the first amendment is free speech and the Ku Klux Klan. For example, there were KKK demonstrations in Charlottesville over the summer because the city planned to remove a Robert E. Lee statue. The freedom of speech is a liberty that every citizen should have, even if their speech is unpopular or it advocates for violence, like the members of the KKK.
"Brandenburg v. Ohio." Oyez, 26 Oct. 2017, www.oyez.org/cases/1968/492. In 1969, Clarence Brandenburg spoke in a Klan rally and was convicted under Ohio law. This law made the advocation of “crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform” illegal. This case went to the supreme court, where they asked the question, “Did Ohio's criminal syndicalism law, prohibiting public speech that advocates various illegal activities, violate Brandenburg's right to free speech as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?” The members of the supreme court ruled that the Ohio law did violate Brandenburg’s free speech rights.
“ACLU-EM Defends KKK's Right to Free Speech.” American Civil Liberties Union, 7 Sept. 2012, www.aclu.org/news/aclu-em-defends-kkks-right-free-speech. The article “ACLU-EM defends KKK’s right to free speech” is about the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri (ACLU-EM) filing a lawsuit for the KKK against the City of Cape Girardeau. The KKK members were going to put handbills on parked cars, but the City of Cape Girardeau considered it a crime. “Defending the rights of groups that the government tries to censor because of their viewpoints is at the heart of what the First Amendment and the ACLU stand for, even when the viewpoints are not popular,” said Brenda L. Jones, the executive director of the ACLU-EM.
Miron, Jeffrey. “Limiting Free Speech Isn't the Answer.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2011, www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/01/15/miron.arizona.free.speech/index.html. In the CNN opinion piece “Limiting free speech isn’t the answer”, Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer at Harvard University in the economics department, argues that placing restrictions shouldn't be put on free speech. He believes that “the harms from government restrictions on speech are worse than the harms from free speech itself. If government can determine what constitutes acceptable speech, it will use that power to restrict speech in inappropriate ways.” Basically, he is saying that limiting free speech does more harm than good, and gives the government power that could be abused.
Heyman, Steven J. "Free Speech Has Limits." Civil Liberties, edited by Roman Espejo, Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, libraries.state.ma.us/login?gwurl=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010118267/OVIC?u=mlin_s_tabor&xid=3486074a. Accessed 25 Oct. 2017. Originally published in Free Speech and Human Dignity, Yale University Press, 2008. In the article “Free Speech Has Limits”, Steven J. Heyman argues that other rights limit free speech and that free speech is alienable. He says that free speech must be regulated to defend the security of individuals, as well as privacy. The author states that “an act of expression should be regarded as presumptively wrongful and subject to legal regulation when it causes or is otherwise responsible for an infringement of a fundamental right belonging to another, and the actor has a level of fault that should make [them] responsible for that result.” This is saying that free speech should be regulated when it interferes with the rights of others.