the abuse of freedom of speech

The first Amendment of the United States says that we have freedom of speech. But I feel like the freedom of press abuses this power because it gives different views to people towards how to view the government, the world, their lives. Which is why there’s mixed feelings with the press. The press lies and tries to influence you to think that the government is doing the right thing. Free all have free will, and we all have different perspectives in different things. The media should give their viewers information that is true, and something that doesn’t tell them to do something or not. Is the government telling the media to say lies to the public?

Only as strong as the people around you!

As the new election cycle gets rolling we have to remember that the ball is generally in our hand when it comes to electing our new president, senators and governors. This is basically because our government only works because the people that are being governed are consenting to it. This consent will only hold true if the government protects our natural rights. Otherwise, the government loses power and anarchy ensues. We can also see this with our current president, he’s currently seen as an eligetiment president because he had won our electoral vote but in the popular polls he had lost. Everyday he gets some criticism from both parties because of his actions, and he has not done as much as most other presidents.

Where is the fine line that distinguishes free speech from hate speech?

In the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”, Article 11 states that free expression is “one of the most precious rights of man”, which was later carried over into the Bill of Rights. Since it was included in the first amendment, it goes to show how important this key idea is to Americans. However, how far can one push the idea of “free speech”? I think that it’s very difficult to specifically define what is considered free speech and what is considered hate speech–there is a lot of grey area. This right to free speech is vital to what makes the United States unique and it appeals to those in countries who do not get to exercise this right. As for the political cartoon above, I think this is a good representation of how people manipulate the “free speech” right as an excuse to spew hatred and discrimination against those who differ from them.

Is Constitution Designed for a Federal or Anti-Federal Government?

This picture, in my opinion, represents the whole sense of conflict that you are able to see in the constitution itself and the process of making the constitution. In one way the formation of Untied States of America is to defend the people against the power of the tyranny and to provide people with necessary freedom. However, the formation of the constitution comes from the fact that the original article of confederation does not provide enough power for the government. Therefore, even though most people tend to argue that constitution is the model of modern political philosophy. Many other people nowadays are raising the question, that the liberalism that America declared at the time, is not coherent with the ideology of liberty.

My question then is: If the constitution does not fully reflect the political liberalism rising at that time. What does?

Too Young For Inalienable Rights?

Former NBA player Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union have recently revealed their 12-year-old child Zaya (known formerly as Zion) as their transgender daughter.

The married couple has received a lot of backlash for this, as many have argued that their daughter is too young to make this type of decision on her own. However, many have also supported the couple, saying that they are doing what’s right by supporting their daughter’s decision.

The Declaration of Independence states that all people are born with certain inalienable rights including life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. However, do you think there should be a certain age limit until people are old enough to be allowed to make these types of decisions for themselves? Or did the parents make the right decision by giving their daughter freedom to find her sexuality on her own at a young age?

Voting for the wrong reasons?

America was founded on the basic principles of freedom of speech and democracy. However, as of recently, the rise of mass media has contributed to possible voting for the wrong reason. Here I have an image of my laptop sticker that says “I voted.” While some people get the sticker because they are proud that they performed their civic duty, I wonder if others vote merely for “social clout” to show off to friends. I feel that many people in our generation choose to vote because it is trendy or will somehow improve their image and how others perceive them. While I acknowledge that it is important that they are still actually doing the action of voting, I feel that intention here matters. Throughout much of our discussions, we have talked about intention when one is performing actions, and I began to wonder what the Founding Fathers would think of us now if they were to see how the United States operates today?

Symbols Are a Pathway Towards Expressing Free Speech, Writing, and Printing

Photos by the Stuart Art Collection, UC San Diego

UCSD helps encompass one of the most important features of our society and of documents such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. As stated in article 11 of this document, “the free expression of thought and opinion is one of the most precious rights of man; thus every citizen may freely speak, write, and print, subject to accountability for abuse of this freedom in the cases determined by law” (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1987, Article 11). Thus, this image relates to the reading because this is UCSD’s silent tree, which is part of the Stuart art collection here at UCSD. This tree’s name can be misleading for those who take it literally, but in fact, the tree serves a very important purpose. Numerous protests over the years have taken place at this tree, which is a symbol for not only the UCSD community, but also our world of today to learn from. Protesters come to this tree to protest, and they are in no way violating any laws, but rather, exercising their ‘most precious rights’ by speaking up about subjects they care about, writing up proposal and speeches that can also be heard at rallies that take place here, and printing/making posters to visually capture the attention of many. Thus, should more symbols of free speech and expression be promoted/established in the world beyond UCSD, and where should they be implemented? What are some other examples of other symbols of free speech, writing, and printing?

calpirg out here reminding me to vote

Shown below is a CALPIRG sticker encouraging students to vote for their cause. Exercising our right to vote has been a hot topic lately with the primary elections coming up. Throughout the course of US history, suffrage has evolved from being limited to white males over the age of 21 to including any US citizen over the age of 18. This right stems from the definition of democracy: a government ruled by the people. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen states that “[l]aw is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation.” In other words, every citizen can be involved in the discussion and creation of laws. This notion is derived from Rousseau’s social contract theory where people enter a social contract by willingly submitting to the general will of society and execute this general will by participating in government matters. Voting is one way to contribute to shaping a government that meets the people’s expectations. However, this begs the question of whether the people are the best judges of the change they want to see in society and how to go about bringing that change. Without considering the amount of time needed to count the votes, would it be better to let the government’s decisions be decided on the direct vote of citizens or the vote of an educated and elected few?

CALPIRG voting sticker on a pole near PC bus stop

Is It Free Speech If We Silence What We Find Offensive?

This photo I took is not really that recent, but I feel as if this is pretty relevant to this week’s topic. I took this photo during a rally that happened during New Year’s in Vegas. It was an organized rally by these protesters- so there were not really violating any laws. Who did violate the law however were the onlookers as they began to assault some of the protesters. In the Decleration of Human rights Article 10 and 11, it mentions that everyone’s opinions are equal to anyone else’s. I didn’t agree with these protesters, but it did not mean that my opinion is more valid than theirs nor did it justify violence onto them. The perpetrators were preaching about freedom of speech and morality as they beat down protesters which was highly ironic in a grim way. That night was an eye-oppening experience for me since I got to really see what some people regarded as equality.

The Protection of Online Privacy

This picture represents the current issue of Internet privacy: one that has turned into a paradox of conflicting interests and miscommunication. In the Declaration of Independence, the Fifth Amendment protects individuals against self-incrimination, which then protects the privacy of each individual’s personal information. In other words, an individual has the right to determine which information about them is collected, and additionally how that information is used. This is demonstrated when Internet browsers and social media apps allow its users to choose levels of privacy settings, giving options to share publicly to only share minimally with close friends. Despite these options users have, problems are still occurring, and identity theft is still a prevalent issue. Recently, Facebook was forced to call off the launching of its dating service in Europe because they failed to show they had performed legally required tests of privacy risks for their users. These slip-ups allow for identities to be bought and sold like common merchandise across the entirety of the Internet. Breaking into social media platforms or websites, stealing personal information, and using it for personal gain is unfortunately common. Despite the Declaration of Independence dedicating several Amendments to the rights of privacy of citizens, the fourth, fifth, ninth, and fourteenth as some examples, current issues of soliciting personal information are still relevant with the technology of the Internet. Thus, should the government take further steps to prevent the hacking of social network accounts, and thus better ensure our right to privacy as stated in the Declaration of Independence? If so, what should those steps be?

Freedom of Expression is (almost) Always Welcome Here

Within the Graffiti park, you can find a beautifully painted mural of Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican painter who took inspiration from nature, her culture, and herself. Kahlo’s art embodied elements of her own identity, so it’s fitting that the college student who painted this mural added a few modern elements to the painting. Just to name a few: coffee, instant ramen, a cell phone, the the book that Kahlo is reading all seem to be important parts of the anonymous painter’s identity, and there are much more that I’m certain the painter could never fit into a single painting. The Graffiti Park allows a safe place for artists to express themselves. Freedom of expression is such an important right in America, yet many Americans either forget that others are allowed to express different opinions, or forget that you can be held responsible for abusing said freedom.

This tribute to Kahlo couldn’t possibly make passerby feel so uncomfortable that they feel the need to report it and get it taken down, but the same can’t be said if Kahlo were replaced with a certain cheeto man wearing a red cap with the letters MAGA printed on the front. This isn’t a declaration of my political beliefs. Far from it. Rather, I am stressing that it is important to remember that freedom of speech goes both ways. Most higher education institutions seem to house a majority of liberals, and I fear than many conservatives are too afraid to express themselves because they don’t want to be criticized. Of course, if exercising that freedom leads to one or more individuals getting hurt or killed, then the punishment dished out to the perpetrator is justified no matter what their political beliefs are.

Freedom of R̶e̶l̶i̶g̶i̶o̶n̶ Christianity

The First Amendment of the Constitution describes that citizens have rights to their own freedom of expression and their own religion. This most likely stems from the fact that original settlers of the United States were trying to escape religious persecution and wanted the right to be able to express their thoughts and practice their own religion. There are religious ideologies and sayings embedded all throughout our society, and it serves as a foundation of the beliefs of the government and the decisions that our government makes. “In God, We Trust” is on the back of our currency, we say God’s name in the Pledge of Allegiance, we recognize Christian holidays, and many politicians appeal to Christian religious beliefs as a basis of their campaigns. Despite the impression that there is a separation between church and state in the American government, the superiority of the Christian religion and ideals is evident within every aspect of our society. My question is, is does this undermine the statute of equality that is implied within the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” if religious superiority is embedded within our own Constitution? Doesn’t this alter the view of citizens and create prejudices against those who are not Christian? Can we truly be equal if there is no separation of church and state?

Manifesting the legacy of our ancestors

Amendment 1 of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution expresses the sentiment that Congress will not make laws preventing people from exercising free religion or demanding that people follow a specific religion. Furthermore, it grants people the right to freedom of speech. This relates to the picture below of the graffiti boards near the student center. These graffiti boards are used for students to artistically exercise their freedom of speech and for years, students have used them to make a statement, philosophical, political, or otherwise. In this particular picture, the board in question addresses Islam Awareness Week. In the corner it states, “I am who I am because I’m Muslim.” The person who made this makes a very important statement: their religion is a part of their identity. As a part of the U.S. Constitution, freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. Yet in recent times due to terrorism on the part of some individuals, the entire religion of Islam has been discriminated against and looked down upon. This student clearly and proudly states, however, that the people they are today can be attributed, at least in part, to their religion. So here we see this student exercising both their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion against opposition. Therefore, we see the very existence of these graffiti boards as a manifestation of the rights of freedom of speech and religion granted to us in the Bill of Rights, proof that we still try to stick to the values our ancestors intended America to have. From this comes the question: if religion is linked to one’s identity and should be protected, should all parts of our identity be protected by the law? What other parts of our identity (that aren’t addressed by the Bill of Rights) do we still need the government to protect?

Problems with the Constitution and our Current Government

Apart from the laws protecting rights that were made for an older time, such as gun laws made for when people had muskets and primitive slow weaponry, there are other laws and conditions protected by the Constitution that prevent progress in modern times.

A big problem, in terms of the structure of our government, is that we have a system that’s built for inaction. There are many veto points with which The House can veto the Senate and vice versa. Members of each of these Congress branches are elected upon different schedules and represent different populations (in the sense that senators represent states of varying sizes, congressmen represent gerrymandered districts of equal size). When the chambers are controlled by different parties, which has become almost the new normal, they don’t agree on much. And their willingness to compromise seems to have shrunk.

That’s not the Constitution’s fault; rather, it is a change in the norms of U.S. politics. However, the Constitution currently provides and previously provided no method of breaking the impasse (as other systems of government generally do). You can just as easily note that it’s not the fault of a highly ideological member of Congress who prefers inaction to compromise. It’s just that when both situations obtain, you get gridlock. If we did have a chance to consider structural changes in our system of government, I suspect we would try to build in some new ways to overcome such standoffs. Hopefully, in a future similar to current, where conflicting ideologies present a favorable option and an unfavorable option, there is something in writing to ensure that desires for change can circumnavigate gridlock via party ideologies and allow action, despite a stalemate.

Is Buying Police the New Trend?

Last year, John Hopkins University decided on a new Act called the “Hopkins Bill” which won a vote of 94-42. It allowed them to essentially “buy” the police in a private sector to defend the school. The university is known to be located in what people would call “a dangerous neighborhood” and they wanted the area to feel safe. However, people were concerned on how it might be “over-policing” the area and is tasked to only protect the students. However, there exists other residential areas with people nearby and according to the Act, only the students are priority. This raises the question regarding Article 12 in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in which “to guarantee the rights of man and the citizen requires a public force; this force is therefore instituted for the benefit of all, and not for the personal advantage of those whom it is entrusted.” While Hopkins is trying to benefit people by having more police, it is apparent that they are violating the 12th Article since it is not guaranteeing the rights and benefits of ALL people and citizen. This skepticism can be expanded to the general use of buying police forces for an institution or person in which it puts only a certain party as a priority and is not a benefit for all but rather for a personal advantage.


The picture I decided to choose, is a logo of a well-known and used application. In this day and age, we are widely connected in the world by technology and other media. One thing that’s common today are chat rooms on the Internet like Omegle or Discord. In these areas, no one knows exactly who anyone could be: anonymity is valued. Over there freedom of speech is allowed and cannot be stopped (of course there are still some rules). This ties in well with Kant’s value of free will and speech. Through the Internet, people are given the option to be able to create a new type of personality that differs from their in real life characteristics. Anonymity gives people the freedom to express their ideas without fear of backlash.

What can you say to the trees? Or other people? It doesn’t matter, you can do whatever you want, but talking to trees is usually looked down upon tbh.

I took a photo of the space on campus where people can freely speak about their ideas and opinions. I know that having the right to free speech is a basic topic that is very well known in the constitution. I thought it very clearly highlighted some of the important pieces of what makes America different than other countries. The ability to say whatever you feel and think (apart from slander) are very crucial pieces of the enlightenment and romantic periods that have greatly ingrained themselves into America’s culture. Letting people have their own freedom as individuals is what these documents makes, and how it gives power to the people. This spot on campus is a direct testament to people’s rights. I wonder if the movement of free speech came from the more romantic and empirical movements, or whether people wanted to spite the oppressive traditional monarchies in Europe at the time, or whether it is both and how each influences the other?

To what extent do we hold the rights of free expression?

Every time I pass the blackboard in the student center, I always spend a few seconds to look at those comments on the board. Some expressing their wishes and some directly speak out their personal views about the ongoing things. As a viewer, I always find this interesting and feel more relaxed with those written ideas on it. It creates a relaxing environment that encourages free expressions from students. As a diversified University, every different kind of idea exists here should not be disregarded, since we all have the freedom of speech and expression in many forms, which corresponds to the Article in the Declaration of the Rights of Man, “The free expression of thought and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: thus every citizen may freely speak, write, and print” (Article 11, Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen). Apart from this blackboard, there are also a few boards in front of the student center allowing students to do their paintings on. The paintings on them change frequently and range from different styles. However, there are sometimes that words on the blackboard appear to be offensive that may make others or a particular group of people feel uncomfortable.

This leads to my question that to how large the extent can one have the right to freely express their thoughts and opinions publically?

Grand Theft of India

Image result for india during british rule

This is a picture of a conflict between Indians and the British Army in India. Although, the declaration of independence wasn’t written for India, many of its argument aligned with the views of Indians during the British takeover. Indian people also had enough of the oppression from the British government and wanted their right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Indian people were also sick of the British government imposing taxes on them without the Indian people’s consent. The British government attacked anyone who spoke against their presence and power in India. Indians were divided back then based on their religious beliefs, but the hate for the British government got them to stand together. Together they were able to kick the British government out of India. India is still somewhat divided due to different religious beliefs. It was the hate against the British government that got all Indians to stand together as one. Now, I don’t what it will take.

The Pursuit of Natural Rights

“Declaration of the Rights of Man and if the Citizen” is the definition of natural rights which the National Assembly gave during The French Revolution. The painting below is “prise de la bastille” which pictured the capture of the Bastille, one of the most important events of The French Revolution. Considering the policy of King Louis XVI’s government unbearable,  French civilians decide to revolt the governing of King Louis XVI. This revolution is their pursuit of natural rights.

One of the goals of French civilians was to build a government according to Article 12 that “To guarantee the rights of man and the citizen requires a pubic force; this force is therefore instituted for the benefit of all, and not for the personal advantage of those to whom it is entrusted.” However, the French Revolution was not perfect. From 1793 to 1794, the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror, and at least 16594 people had been executed for counter-revolutionary activities during this period. But this violation of the natural rights seemed necessary in that period because, to build a new bureaucratic system that protects redefined human rights, the old one must be destroyed. In this process, people who relied on the old system for a living would definitely be affected.

Then, there rises a question that in a country that has settled a bureaucratic system will the redefinition and pursuit of natural rights inevitably lead to violations of the natural rights of some people in this system? If so, isn’t that contradict Article 2? if not, how could the old system be destroyed without affecting people relying on it?

Warning or Rumor? Should we manage speech?

I was walking out from Geisel yesterday and noticed that the chalk writing in simplified Chinese that mourns for Dr. Wenliang Li was still there. As I studied the Bill of Rights before, I am personally glad that whoever wrote it can have his or her freedom of speech practices here as a part of their natural rights. As according to the Amendment I:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…

It can be seen that the speech right, is a part of the natural right that people have according to the Constitution. People can express freely, and the government cannot make restrictions on it.

So, back to the story, Wenliang Li was a doctor in Wuhan, China. Before the coronavirus outbreak, he was one of the eight “whistleblowers” that warns his friends and colleagues in a group chat but then spread to the public that there’s a suspicion of some SARS (syndrome caused by a specific coronavirus) cases in a seafood market. However, his warning was judged by the government as rumor spreading and had him sign a paper to stop such actions. Except that, the government paid little attention to the case itself. Then the coronavirus outbreaks in China, especially Wuhan, and Dr. Wenliang Li passed away after infecting the coronavirus during work.

Though it is totally different cases between China and the U.S. and it is wrong to use the Bill of Rights as a fact to comment on this (though lots of people, even native Chinese, are questioning the government about their speech rights). But take out the political stuff and focus on the philosophy and the case itself, Will the freedom of speech give a proper solution to this case? I personally say it could be better if people hold that speech right is a part of their human rights. I don’t want it to be a joke that “-if you can time travel back to China, will you save the country? -no, you will be the ninth person that gets punished for spreading lies.”

Making Freedom “Stick”

Despite there being no apparent American iconography (actually, most of them are Asian culture references) on the stickers I’m showing on my laptop (and towards the back, my hydroflask), I still believe there can be a connection made between them and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. In the text, two articles resonate with me: Article 11, “The free expression of thought and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: thus every citizen may freely speak, write, and print” and Article 10, “No one must be disturbed because of his opinions, even in religious matters, provided their expression does not trouble the public order” (Declaration, pg. 239). These two excerpts connect to my having stickers on my laptop because each one, although whimsical and not necessarily referential to anything serious, symbolizes the value I place on what each sticker illustrates. Thus, my stickers are more than just aesthetic adhesives, but semblances of my beliefs and personal thoughts. This becomes relevant to the American thought of freedom because such documents, which provide a foundation for the American perception of liberty, hold that it is my right to express myself and my values (so long as it brings no harm to others). This is maintained even for interests which have an origin outside of the American world (as I’m pretty sure neither Aristotle nor the Final Fantasy JRPG franchise were created in the US).

Largely, the reason why I chose to discuss stickers for this assignment is because of their frivolous nature: by no measure is there a clear necessity for having such things. Despite their frivolity, stickers can represent two significant–and often, inextricably tied–notions which are fundamental to the American existence: freedom and expression. With this in mind, it has led me to wonder whether or not freedom and expression can indeed be separated, and, if one’s freedom was confiscated, they could still retain their right to expression. Would a similar outcome occur if expression was taken away for liberty?

Freedom of Speech à la Nancy Pelosi

The Declaration of the Rights of Man, written in 1789, is the foundation of American society and its ideals. This declaration determines the rights and liberties of the American people and does not limit it to any one person, meaning any and all American citizens have these rights, even those in government.

Recently, America went through the process of practicing these rights with the impeachment trials of Trump. Now, you can say what you want about how the trials were handled by both parties, but there is no denying the ultimate and most memorable act of freedom of expression and speech performed by Nancy Pelosi. By publically ripping up Trump’s speech after giving her the papers, Pelosi was demonstrating her right to “free communication of ideas and opinions [as it is] one of the most precious of the rights of man” (Article 11). While being in the public eye and in the center of a topic that is so divisive in American society, what power does a public act of expression like this have to those who agree or disagree with her?

What liberty entails

The theme of this week’s reading emphasizes the rights of the people to liberty. Within this liberty includes the people’s freedom to choose one’s religion. It is written under the U.S. Constitution, Amendment I, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This picture shows just two of the many religion that people in the U.S. are able to practice freely without worrying of consequences. In other parts of the world, in the past and even now, people still constantly struggle to express their religion due to fear of what might potentially happen to them. This right that is written in the Constitution allows us to openly speak and follow any religion that we please. We have come to the point that talking about religion even in classes is completely acceptable, I know that was not always the case in the past.

With this in mind, a question that I wonder about is, How much does this freedom affect the U.S. today and how different would it be if people are required to follow a religion enforced by the government?

To Serve All ITS People

This week’s reading of the Declaration of Independence focused on the idea that the government is an entity that should serve all its people and in the people should maintain their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If the government is not fulfilling this requirement, then the people have the right to create a new government that will fulfill these terms.

The picture I chose embodies the costs of securing these promised freedoms. The government we have gives its people a considerable amount of freedom, but we have to consider the non-monetary costs of what it means to be considered one of “its people.” In order to have the rights that are promised in the Declaration of Independence, the citizens may have had to give up a part of their personal identity or culture and conform to what it means to be a United States citizen and the immigrants that want to become a citizen have to consider the same things; this can be considered white-washing its citizens. So the question I have to ask is, do the things one must give up take away from the happiness that they are supposed to be able to pursue?