American Values of the Freedom of Speech and the Press
by Andy Schultz

American’s have many different values they hold close to them. Some of these values are
the amount of money they are making, their job status, their popularity in school and in other
functions, and a good education. The biggest value Americans have is the Freedom of Speech and
the Press.
The value we get from the freedom of speech and the press is enormous. It allows us to
understand what is happening in the world and to share our feeling’s on certain subjects. This
statement was tested in one court case about a student in a high school in Pine Forest, North
Carolina in 1971. The students name was Charlie Quaterman, his crime was that he published an
underground newspaper that he handed out in school. The school suspended him for ten days and
had him on probation. He refused to let the school stop him from telling others what he and his
classmates thoughts on things. In one of his papers he wrote “WE HAVE TO PREPARE TO
FIGHT IN THE HALLS AND IN THE CLASSROOMS, OUT IN THE STREETS BECUASE
THE SCHOOLS BELONG TO THE PEOPLE. IF WE HAVE TO-WE’LL BURN THE
BUILDINGS OF OUR SCHOOLS DOWN TO SHOW THE PIGS THAT WE WANT AN
EDUCATION THAT WON’T BRAINWASH US INTO BEING RACIST. AND THAT WE
WANT AN EDUCATION THAT WILL TEACH US THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT THINGS
WE NEED TO KNOW, SO WE CAN BETTER SERVE THE PEOPLE!!!!” (Zerman, p.3). He
had challenged the school and the courts by what he said. He won his court case and showed
people that the freedom of speech and the press is a privilege and a tool to value.
The freedom of speech and the press should at least have some limitations. That’s what a
poll taken in the 80’s said. “...a majority believed that the public’s right to know is subordinate to
an individual’s right to privacy, that the harm certain information, were it be aired, would inflict
on the subject far outweighs whatever benefit it might offer to the rest of us.” (Zerman p.24). This
is saying that if the news or papers get a hold of some “juicy” tidbits about something that would
hurt either the persons status or their credibility, it should not be given out, only if the negative is
more than the positive.
According to what George Hay once wrote, the idea of limiting the freedom of speech or
the press is not right. He said “If the words ‘freedom of the press’ have any meaning at all they
mean total exemption from any law making any publication whatever criminal.” (Zerman p.23).
According to this, anything in the papers, the web, books, or in the news could never be censored
or blocked from the public. This also means that people will not be able to take anyone to court
because of what they wrote about them, even if it means they destroyed that person’s life. This is
taking the freedom of speech and the press to the extremes.
All in all the freedom of speech and the press is a value that all American’s have, but many
over look its power. Freedom of speech and the press is a powerful tool that should not be over
used or underused. The first Amendment grants us the freedom of speech and the press, but we
should not abuse it.