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Civil Rights in America Essay

The Cornell University Law School defines a civil right as “an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury” (2008). An example of a civil right in the United States is the freedom of speech. It is safeguarded in the First Amendment of the Constitution because this right allows for the free flow of ideas among individuals, organizations and other entities even if these opinions are unconventional, contentious or downright distasteful (Wang, 2001).

The clash of opposing ideas in society facilitates the process in which the truth will emerge. Suppressing thoughts that counter another thought will not bring about a well-rounded understanding of an issue at hand and will lead to insufficient knowledge on which the public will base their positions, decisions or actions. Only by trying and testing ideas through competition guaranteed by free speech can the public become objective.

Further, the freedom of speech is also one of the ways in which persons express their individuality and pursue self-development (Wang, 2001). Another example of a civil right is the freedom from involuntary servitude. The Thirteenth Amendment ended the more than two centuries in which slavery, the classic form of involuntary servitude, existed in the United States (Missouri Bar, 2006). This granted every inhabitant of the country, no matter what the race or ethnicity, gender or personal beliefs, the security from this form of inhumanity.

However, involuntary servitude has a wider meaning in that in not only encompasses slavery but also peonage. The Thirteenth Amendment also protects against voluntary or involuntary labor of a person as a form of debt payment or a means for the fulfillment of obligations (Missouri Bar, 2006). The right against involuntary servitude assures citizens of their dignity and freedom even in times of economic difficulties. This right specifically protects persons of the lower economic status from the exploitation of the more affluent.


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