ERIC Number: ED473479
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Nov-22
Reference Count: N/A
Balancing Free Speech and Government Protection in a Time of Threat.
Covington, William G., Jr.
A common misconception among first-year university students is that the United States provides unabridged, uncensored absolute free speech rights. Evidently these assumptions are derived from popular press and entertainment industry images which place heavy emphasis on one end of the debate. It is a shock for some students to be exposed to the other side of the debate, i.e., the reality that there are some restrictions on free speech which exist, in part, for the protection of the individual. This paper first provides a historical context for free speech and government restrictions, citing court pronouncements on the issue. The paper discusses the results of the State of the First Amendment survey, taken after September 11, 2001, describing a pendulum shift in the wake of the attack on the United States. Forty-nine percent (49%) said the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it grants, a 10% jump from the previous year. It considers 1947's Hutchins Commission, which proposed guidelines related to press responsibility to be used to address the balancing question faced by decision-makers of that generation. It focuses on one post-9/11 free expression advocate, OMB Watch, an organization concerned about the government going too far in restricting access to documents in the wake of 9/11. The paper notes that the Information Age presents challenges not previously encountered in the way information is disseminated in times of war and national crisis. It finds that two mutually exclusive goals, the right of the people to know, and the obligation of the government to protect its citizens in time of war, cannot both be satisfied in their entirety. (Contains 18 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment