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Free Speech vs The Right of Children Essay

The ethical implications of such a topic must be carefully reviewed in order to reach an overall judgement and conclusion as to whether every citizens right to express freedom of speech is an exclusive entitlement, or whether certain limitations ought to be implemented in order to safeguard the innocence of youth. This essay aims to underline that the latter must take precedent over any reckless expression of this right. William Orville Douglas once stated that “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions” (Douglas, 49).

This, although, provokes ones belief that freedom of speech is a duty bestowed upon all of us to convey, it quite clearly fails to acknowledge the duty, and more importantly, the responsibility every adult has to protect the early stages of a child’s life from the evils our world presents. This paper will ultimately underline the obligations and duty each adult faces in order to protect the innocence of youth. It is surely every reasonably minded adults obligation to watch over and regulate what our children view.

In such a society where information is so readily accessible and available via the outlets of the internet and television, the dangers of being exposed to the vulgarity of pornography and the severity of violent themes presented in television shows has never been more apparent. The entertainment industry thrives on the younger audiences following such 2 shows as wrestling and obtains profits at the expense of the corruption it invokes in the psyche of children. Statistics show that teenagers who regularly tune into professional wrestling shows are far more likely to be involved in violence in their adult lives (Taylor, 1).

This surely is an indication that our right to express violence as an questionable privilege has insinuations that directly affect the youth of our society. Ann Mainville-Neeson aptly asserted “don’t abandon safeguards in the name of freedom of expression”. Although she was directly observing the rights of women, the same notion can be adopted in our argument confirming that freedom of speech is a privilege that must be wielded sensibly. Chomsky observed that “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like” (Chomsky, 183).

This statement is flawed in that it does not account for the level of morality freedom of speech invokes. The question whether freedom of speech is appropriate is undeniable. After all the right is protected under statutory law, in particular Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Brownlie, 299). The argument remains of proportionality and whether the justification of merely quoting statute is enough to qualify anyone to thoughtlessly portray images that may hinder the standing of our children in later adulthood.

Interestingly, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly instructs that, although the freedom of expression and speech is a fundamental right and can be enjoyed without any interference from the 3 government, the Supreme Court still recognize that such enjoyment must not summon any form of action that can cause violence or a breach of the peace. If this fact was to be correlated and run parallel with the observations made and results collaborated by the Southern Medical Journal, then one could argue that serious ramifications may be incurred and reform necessary to coincide with the law of the land.

The availability and open accessibility to pornography, both soft and hardcore to children must be reviewed. Arguing that this is merely an avenue for those involved in the pornographic to articulate their freedom of speech and expression is absurd and holds little regard for repercussions that their exposure may have to young minds. Andrew Maisel stipulates that parents can control a degree of how much their own children are exposed to pornography on the internet is by banning the use of internet altogether. This concept, although harsh, offers a insight as to the desperate nature and dilemma most parents are left in.

A situation leaving the parent to contemplate restricting online use for their children is a huge step backwards, yet it is often considered as an alternative. A lesser of two evils if you will. The pornography industry must take steps in order to reduce the number of people who are inadvertently subjected to explicit, and often illicit, material. Henry Waxman and Steve Largent’s report on the level of accessibility of pornography suggests that even accidental access can have detrimental effects. They cite the hypothetical example of a teenage girl innocently typing in 4

“Britney Spears” into a music video search again and retrieving a result list of which 70% of the results contained pornographic titles (Waxman, 9). The question of responsibility over undoubted financial profit comes is raised again, and unfortunately, it seems as though the industry prefers the well being of its own existence by attracting further attention to itself, to fulfilling their duty as adults and protect the children and ensure their smooth, educated transition into adulthood. However, Soraker poses a possible reason as to the uncontrollable nature of pornography on the internet.

“The increasing use of frameworks within which Internet users can contribute nontextual information constitutes a serious obstacle to government attempts to accurately censor and monitor Internet traffic” (Soraker, 40). The basic notion that too many sites are available for users of all ages to file share and contribute to the problem presents us with further difficulties in tackling the fundamental issues in question. Once again we are faced with queries founded in the level of responsibility and proportional morality. Our society seems to cater far more to unconventional behaviour.

So much so that such acts have entered into the mainstream of society, and what was deemed taboo a decade ago, is now part of our day to day make up. It is each and every adults responsibility to ultimately allow their children, whether it be their own or ones of their community, to benefit from a culture free from such pervertions that will eventually serve to destroy their 5 innocent attributes. The unfortunate phenomenon remains that industries operating within the media will continue to function and canvass their ideals, which will undeniably capture our youngsters attention. Profit and financial

gain will remain to be an overriding factor that will drive the industry. All this with so little regard for the affect their actions will have on our children is a terrible tragedy. Surely the responsibility rest squarely upon the shoulders of the parents and other adults who have the control and voice to rise up against such barbaric exploitation. The future certainly looks bleak if our children pass on the violent and perverted tendencies portrayed in today’s media onto their own children and thus creating a snowball effect whereby the situation gets worse with every generation.

The time to act is now. Freedom of speech is a right that many countries do not have the benefit of enjoying at all. We, however, seem to abuse this right. Brandish it, manipulate it and even use it as an excuse to further push the boundaries. A measure of responsibility must go hand in hand when we discuss the issue of free speech. It seems, however, that the majority of us have forgotten that aspect.

WORKS CITED

Douglas, William Orville, “Right of the People” Greenwood Press. 1980. 48-49 www,consumer affairs.com, “Young TV Wrestling Fans Take More Chances” Southern Medical Journal. February 2008 1-2 Chomsky, Noam. “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky & the Media” 1993 183-185 Brownlie, Ian. “Principles of Public International Law” 5th Edition. Oxford 1998. 299-299 http://www. superkids. com/aweb/pages/features/netporn/, “Parents, Kids and Pornography on the Internet” 1-2 Waxman, Henry & Largent, Steve. “Children’s Access to Pornography Through Internet File-Sharing Programs” July 21st, 2007. 8-11 Soraker, Johnny Hartz, “The Information Socity” Penguin. 2007. 40-41


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