“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 the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
We, as American citizens, have the something called the First Amendment which allows citizens to freely express themselves. The first amendment is arguable the most important amendment for America and its people. Everyone should have the right to express themselves in their words, actions, and even just showing the religion/beliefs they have. In the novel 1984, Winston, the main character, lives in a totalitarian society where freedom of speech, press, religion, and overall expression is forbidden. Although not always to the same degree as in 1984, many places around the world are being stripped of their freedom as well. May people may not see this as an issue, but it is very prevalent in today’s time and should be recognized very seriously.
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” -Benjamin Franklin. We can use a real-world example of the loss of freedom of expression when we look at a woman, in Zimbabwe who was arrested after speaking out on her beliefs of the Zimbabwe President. According to USA Today “She allegedly sent an anonymous tweet — "We are being led by a selfish and sick man” — apparently referring to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who is 93 and has ruled the country for nearly four decades.” When this woman got sent to prison for an act as innocent as tweeting something out of favor of her countries President, we see the similarities of the real world to the book 1984. In 1984, everyone that is under the ruling of Big Brother is under so much supervision and control that they cant fall in love, write in journals, have their own thoughts, etc, without the fear of getting killed or just getting killed in general. Going back to what happened with the woman in Zimbabwe we see that her freedom of expression is taken away when she was imprisoned for speaking out on her President which is very similar to Winston and his societies struggles with freedom.
When freedom of expression is taken away we see a sad society and many things within the community go wrong. In current day Russia men and women are being captured and put into concentration camps and tortured endlessly for something out of their control. “Since late last year, two gay men have been killed and about 40 men and women who are either homosexual or suspected of being homosexual have been detained in a makeshift prison, according to the rights group, the Russian LGBT Network.” As states by The New York Times. In 1984, Winston is punished for falling in love with a girl named Julia. “Big Brother” finds out about Winston and Julia falling in love and capture Winston. While Winston is under Big Brothers even tighter
control he has to be tortured and nearly killed during Big Brothers interrogation process to find out who Winston’s ‘lover’ is. This directly relates to the men in Russia because they had their freedom of expression evoked over something they can’t even control and were tortured for doing what they love and that doesn’t really even affect anyone else. because Winston got his freedom of expression taken away for doing something as natural as falling in love.
In contrast to having freedom of expression and the first amendment in just life in general, some people say that the first amendment doesn’t guarantee our freedom and that by saying that a country and/or place has freedom to do something, there are always limitations. What I say to that is we need freedom in order to really love ourselves and loving ourselves is the first step to having a safe and happy community. In conclusion, freedom of expression is something we as a world desperately need and it should be very seriously recognized throughout the globe. Without freedom of expression, our society in America alone would be vastly different than it is now.
Willingham, AJ. “The First Amendment Doesn't Guarantee You the Rights You Think It Does.” CNN Politics, 6 Sept. 2018, www.cnn.com/2017/04/27/politics/first-amendment-explainer-trnd/index.html.
“U.S. Institutions - Why Is the First Amendment Important?” Editorials, 20 Feb. 2017, editorials.voa.gov/a/the-importance-of-the-first-amendment-/3733070.html.
“United States of America 1789 (Rev. 1992).” Constitute, www.constituteproject.org/constitution/United_States_of_America_1992.
Susteren, Greta Van. “With Free Speech Crumbling Worldwide, the U.S. Must Remain a Bastion of Freedom.” USA Today, 14 Nov. 2017, www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/11/14/free-speech-crumbling-worldwid....
“Chechnya Renews Crackdown on Gay People, Rights Group Says.” The New York Times, 14 Jan. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/world/europe/chechnya-gay-people-russia.html.
Orwell, George. New American Library . Signet , 1949.