Freedom of speech is one civil right that is often abused. Taken too lightly or too heavily, people get hurt. Of course, the Founding Fathers could not have foreseen sexual harassment lawsuits, anti-bullying laws, and threats by email. So, what does "Freedom of Speech" really mean in the modern age? How are you protected? Take a look.

The Original Purpose of "Freedom of Speech"

Article 19 of the Declaration of Independence guarantees that all people have a right to their opinions and the right to voice their opinions without fear of imprisonment, retaliation, or death. Initially, the Founding Fathers created this article because they lived under the oppressive rule of British King George. They wanted to be sure that all Americans would be able to discuss openly their opinions on government and politics. This civil right has since extended itself to lots of other situations.

What This Civil Right Does Not Include

If a KKK member wants to discuss how he/she hates certain races, he/she can do that. He/she cannot threaten the lives and welfare of others, nor can he/she send death threats in any form of communication and then attempt to act on those threats of harm. Anti-bullying laws also prohibit one's right to free speech when someone repeatedly targets, verbally abuses, psychologically abuses, and/or emotionally abuses another repeatedly. Free speech does not overturn anti-bullying laws as free speech was never about the right to harm others. Likewise, sexual harassment laws prevent people from unwanted sexual advances, comments about their bodies, and lewd jokes. Free speech does not overturn sexual harassment either, on the grounds that these verbal actions cause someone else harm.

In short, you can say what you like about most things. What you cannot say is anything intentionally threatening, hurtful to the point that it causes targets or victims to be fearful, or consistently harass and pursue someone. If you feel like someone is attempting to restrain you from speaking or threatening harm, you need to speak to a civil rights attorney.

Civil Rights Attorney Services

A civil rights attorney will look at your case to determine if your freedom of speech has been infringed upon, or if someone else has harmed you and thinks that freedom of speech gives them the right to talk to you a certain way. Then you can choose to pursue a lawsuit or have your lawyer send a "cease and desist" letter. Other services may be available and at your disposal. 

For more information, contact your preferred civil rights attorney services.