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.
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?
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?