[EFC Blue Ribbon - Free Speech Online]
Freedom of Speech

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."

-Louis D. Brandeis

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Access are often intertwined, and thus it is possible that what you are looking for is archived in the files related to Censorship. Another element of the topic involves the privileged use of cryptography for exchange of information.


This is possibly one of the most current and topical subjects that is covered in this course and a subject that seems to endure from year to year. The objective of this class is to raise the awareness of students to the topic and to explore a variety of viewpoints, all of which purport to support the first amendment to the US Constitution.

Deviant Behavior

One of the concerns expressed regarding the Internet has been that it has become the vehicle for the dissemination of pornography, expressions of hate and racial prejudices, and unpopular views. WVTF, the radio station of Virginia Tech, discussed these issues with Erin Mailer, an ISP from Lynchburg VA, and Clifton Bryant, Professor of Sociology at Virginia Tech, in the 26 September 1995 "Evening Edition" program. A 7 minute audio clip of their opening statements is available as a REAL AUDIO file. Mr. Mailer describes the kind of restrictions that users can have placed on the service while Prof. Bryant points out that most new technologies attract those with "deviant" tendencies to find new ways to express themselves. [Reproduced by permission of WVTF, with thanks.]

Various Concerns

The concept of "Freedom of Speech" is becoming more and more confused with "Freedom of Expression" wherein some extend the meaning of the word speech to include numerous forms of action. From the outset (at least in the US) speech was taken to include the written word. Today the "written word" clearly includes postings on the World Wide Web, the posting of what is considered by some to be pornographic or racially offensive have raied the ire of other veiwers. Recent interpretations have included flag burning, the open publication of proprietry materials, general civil disobedience, and "cyber-squatting". Consequent to these interpretations, we have chosen to sub-divide this study into several different elements.

Free Speech

Free Expression

Openness of Information

International Aspects

Class Projects

Current Events

Organizations Concerned with Free Speech (and some with the general concept of Freedom from Governmental Control/Oversight)

Many of these sites have extensive listings of publications and postings.

Examination Questions



Last updated 2002/05/02
© J.A.N. Lee, 1996- 2002.