The First Amendment
to the Constitution
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or to the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The five freedoms of The First Amendment protect: speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. Together, these five guaranteed freedoms make the people of the United States of America the freest in the world.
"The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas...the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out." Complete freedom for "the thought we hate" is necessary to allow an unregulated marketplace of ideas or else violence will result.
"Those who won our Independence... valued liberty as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty."
Voices, Videos, and Visualizing Freedom of Speech
Freedom of expression is integral to democracy and to the search for truth. The best remedy for the speech we don’t like is not suppression, but more speech.
"Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones."