"Free Speech" doesn't mean "Free from Consequences"

How far do your Rights go?

"Free Speech" doesn't mean "Free from Consequences"

With all the change and stress our country is going through, We have seen an increased amount of people refusing to follow rules based on being "A Free Country". On a similar note, I have noticed an increase of people saying whatever crosses their minds, claiming protection under "Free Speech". Is this "Freedom" truly free? I am here to inform you that while you can say whatever you want, you can still get in trouble for it.

What Speech ISN'T Protected?

There are instances where the First Amendment does not apply. A few examples are as follows:

1. True Threats: These are threats of harm to another person, from harm to murder, you can get in legal trouble for this.

2. Threats against the President: This is viewed as Treason, and the punishment for this, even if you are joking, is very severe.

3. Incitement to Violence: Encouraging others to harm groups of people, institutions, or an individual is punishable even if you were not the one committing the act of violence, or no action was taken.

4. Incitement to Suicide: In a Juvenile Court, it was recently ruled that pressuring/encouraging someone to take their own life can be ruled as manslaughter.

5. Slander/Libel: A smear campaign, when argued by the right lawyer, can be considered defamation of character, which usually entitles the victim to significant financial compensation.

6. False Testimony/Witness: When they say "Speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" in court, they aren't fooling around. Lying on the stand, or reporting a crime that didn't actually happen are very illegal. This speech is not protected by the 1st Amendment.

As my History Teacher so eloquently stated, "Your rights end at the tip of your nose". This means your rights are not allowed to infringe on another person's rights.

What do the 1st/ 14th Amendment ACTUALLY protect?

The 1st Amendment does ensure free speech, and the 14th does ensure states cannot deny your rights ensured by the Constitution, but does that make your speech truly free? It actually doesn't. Outside of the fact that it doesn't apply to the instances stated above, these Amendments only protect you from the Government. This ensures that neither the State or Federal Government cannot sensor your speech (Much like Orwell's 1984) or take legal action against you for doing so.

Can you get in trouble for your "Free Speech"?

You absolutely can. Free Speech protected by the First Amendment does not apply to Institutions, Businesses, or Individuals. These places are allowed to censor you, and usually have Terms and Conditions or Community Guidelines to ensure that. Not agreeing to these terms usually bars you from using their services, and failure to abide by these rules can lead to consequences. Here are a few examples:

1. Using inappropriate language in the workplace can result in you being fired. This is usually outlined in your contract.

2. Students in school have to sign a Student Handbook/Contract before entering school, saying they will abide by the schools idea of proper conduct. Failure to do so can result in detention, suspension, or even expulsion from extracurricular activities, or from the whole school.

3. Certain Apps/sites have rules against bullying, harassment, and hate speech. If anything you post gets reported and falls into either of those categories, your post can be permanently removed or you can get banned from the App/Site permanently.

4. If you are using excessive vulgarity in a place of business, especially family businesses or businesses that have a lot of children, they have the right to ask you to leave. If you refuse to leave, they are allowed to force you to leave, either with their own staff, security, or calling the police should things escalate.

On a more individual level, other people are absolutely allowed to call you out on the things you say. Free Speech gives you the right to say it, it does not mean you are right for saying it. Free Speech does not Free you from reproach. as Tik Tok user @erinsamjo put it "Yes, you do have Freedom of Speech. It does protect you...from the Government. It doesn't protect you, FROM ME MOTHER******! If I think you're stupid I'm telling ya, B****! And THAT, is on the First Amendment."

Nothing is ever truly Free, and even Freedom has it's consequences. Use good judgement before you speak. A good way to do that is to ask yourself "Would I say this in front of a Child, My Parent's, My Boss, My Customers, or my Teachers?". Feel free to share with anyone one who thinks they are invincible because of their rights.

fact or fiction
Ruth Christianson
Ruth Christianson
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Ruth Christianson
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