Reflection: Free Speech and Alex Jones

By Cameron Coyle, F/G Scholar

Freedom of speech is an idea that does not have a concrete definition, but Thomas Emerson’s opening line in “The System of Freedom of Expression” makes a factual observation when he calls it a complex mechanism, which explains why so many theories revolve around free speech. Differences of ideas naturally lead to debates about what the difference of what can and should be said, and there is no better example of this in today’s society than recently de-platformed conspiracy theorist and political commentator, Alex Jones. Continue reading Reflection: Free Speech and Alex Jones

Reflection: Art and freedom of speech

By Hayley Robb, F/G Scholar

In a profession committed to accuracy, brevity and objectivity, the foundations of the First Amendment theory are much of what journalists value. From the free trade of ideas and diverse perspectives to the uncertain truth, these theories can be extended all the way to artistic, scientific and religious freedoms too. Continue reading Reflection: Art and freedom of speech

Reflection: The Safety-Valve Justification in the digital age

By Lillie Eastham, F/G Scholar

The Safety-Valve Justification theory is unique among First Amendment theories because it is purely pragmatic (Gey, 2008) . It does not subscribe to the same idealism as other theories that claim that freedom of speech eventually leads to the truth and an overall stronger and more educated public. Instead, it argues that freedom of speech acts as a literal safety valve, so that people who feel alienated from larger society are able to air their frustrations without becoming violent or revolutionary. In this way, freedom of speech is used to protect the general public from those on the fringe of society.

This theory remains relevant in the digital age as citizens try to navigate a world in which all opinions can be dispersed to millions with the push of a button. In fact, a new kind of ‘safety valve’ has developed that helps people to evade injustices that they feel the government has brought upon them. Continue reading Reflection: The Safety-Valve Justification in the digital age