Freedom of Speech and How It is Necessary Free

Total Length: 356 words ( 1 double-spaced pages)

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Colin Kaepernick’s political activism and his symbolic “taking the knee” have sparked a fierce debate over the power, potential, and possible limitations on freedom of speech. According to an article in The Washington Post, “survey after survey has shown that too many students at all levels — including in college — don’t understand free speech and don’t know that it is guaranteed by the First Amendment,” (Strauss, 2017, p. 1). The reason why I am writing about freedom of speech in relation to the reaction to Kaepernick is that the First Amendment encompasses the fundamental rights and freedoms fundamental to democracy. The goal of the paper is to explain the facts of the case through the lens of both ethics and constitutional law. Ultimately, I want to demonstrate to the audience why a democracy cannot function without freedom of speech. I also want to show why protesting something symbolic like the national anthem is precisely the definition of that fundamental freedom, and how it differs from hate speech.

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The specifics of the problem are as follows. First, Kaepernick’s protest led to emotionally charged outcry similar to those that ensue following flag burning. I want to acknowledge the validity of these emotional appeals while showing that ironically, taking the knee and burning flags are exactly what those flags and anthems represent in the first place. Second, I want to broach the subject of race and intersectionality to show that the attitudes towards Kaepernick reveal cleavages in American society. Kaepernick’s actions demonstrate the need for meaningful dialogue plus original, creative solutions to the problem. One solution I propose is an extensive public relations campaign related to race and racism in America, targeting young people in particular. The anti-smoking campaign has been tremendously helpful in reducing the prevalence of smoking, and in the same way I believe that effective media and public relations can reduce the antagonism shown towards those like Kaepernick and movements like #Blacklivesmatter that epitomize American values......

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Strauss, V. (2017). A lesson on the free-speech debate Colin Kaepernick started. The Washington Post, 26 Sept, 2017,

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