Censorship and the First Amendment - the American Citizen’s Right to Free

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Adopted in 1791, the First Amendment to the constitution, states that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The freedom of speech documented in the First Amendment is not only a constitutional protection, but also an inevitable part of democratic government and independence, which are essential values in our society. The American citizen’s right to free speech should be held as the highest virtue.

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Freedom of speech is essential part government and is protected by the First Amendment. According to the “liberty theory”, proposed by some legal scholars, freedom of speech is an essential part of the liberty of every person, who pursues an individual self-determination and self-realization (Cox, 1981). Thus, freedom of speech is also a part more of an over-all right to freedom of personal development and self-expression.

Another theoretical ground to support the freedom of speech is called “tolerance theory”. It holds that the ability to teach and promote tolerance is one of the most important assets of freedom of speech (Cox, 1981). The “tolerance theory” implies self-restraint, which is the only appropriate response to any ideas, even those that we may personally dislike or hate.

Even though the First Amendment free speech standards do not apply to private employers, they determine if there is some other interest that governs the employee’s ability to speak freely.

Employees who work in the private-sector do not, as a rule, have First Amendment protection for their speech in the workplace.

A private sector employer could take the absence of a direct First Amendment right as providing free rein to discipline, terminate or retaliate against employees for their speech in the workplace. The private sector employer should take into account the effect of the anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII, RCW 49.60 (the Washington Laws Against Discrimination or “WLAD”), whistle blower laws, and various local laws.

These laws provide a level of protection for certain types of expression in the workplace, and thus should be considered even if the right of speech associated with these laws is not a “First Amendment”.

In terms of monitoring employees, the list of things a corporation can't do is a short one — it's basically narrowed to eavesdropping on an employee’s personal conversation. But not all snooping is meant to be spiteful. Example; an employer suspects an employee might be about to quit, or is managing their own small business on company time, the employer might look at the employee’s personal social media. The employee might not have been doing any of the things the employer had thought instead, your employer sees you blowing off steam about him/her and takes offense and then you get fired.

Companies have to have the freedom that is necessary to run their businesses the way they want and fire people who are seen as doing a bad job. But, those decisions should be based on legitimate business rationale not emotion or favoritism. In theory it would be nice to walk away, look for a different job, but in most cases, people are unable to take the risk so they just put up with it.

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