Freedom of Speech and Expression

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) article 19, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the charter defines this to include freedoms to speak freely without intervention from any party or individual and to inquire about, accept and convey information and thoughts through any media and irrespective of what others think of. This it is also captured in the international human rights law and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as an indication on how fundamental and absolute this right is to any country and particularly the United States of America.

The freedoms of speech and expressions like other human rights are anchored in various international charters, statutes, protocols and conventions and also constitutions of various states.

Freedom of expression forms the basic framework of any democratic society. It underpins all other freedoms since if an individual is unable to speak freely or express his opinion without any combat then he may not likely benefit from other rights. Furthermore without this freedom of expression then openness in any society may not be achieved.

Despite the above positives of the freedom of speech and expression, Just like other human rights and freedom, they are governed by certain limitations certain limitation which has been subject of debate among scholars due to the pivotal and central nature of this freedom of expression. This debate has taken various dimensions including meaning limitation on autonomy or rather limitation on ones ability to act independently where others argue that limiting this freedom may open up doors for dictatorial governance.

The assumption underlying this limitations is to guarantee that honest and correct information is reflected in all forms of speech and expression and also to prohibit any combative ,deceptive ,misleading and hate speech . The freedom of speech and expression are most cherished by the citizens of the United States of America and are protected by the first amendment to the American constitution. The factors governing the regulation of particular kind of expression depends on the type of speech, the circumstance why the speech was made, and its impact on other people.

Consequently, the supreme the Supreme Court has listed seven forms of expression that may be subjected to regulation by government to a certain extend without interference with free Speech Clause these are (a) core political speech (b) speech that incites illegal or subversive activity (c) fighting words; (d) obscenity and pornography (e) symbolic speech (f) commercial speech and (g) student speech.

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