While speech is severely restricted in some countries, the First Amendment protects free speech in the United States.
However, there are some limitations pertaining to indecency and obscenity in speech.
“Well, you just have to be aware of the laws relating to that, but generally the local (laws) determine what is obscene,” said assistant professor of Communications Beth Garfrerick. “You can spout obscenities in various places, but you just have to be aware of what the local law is.”
Freedom of speech is a basic right, said senior Todd Erickson.
College is an excellent time to begin exercising this right, Garfrerick said.
“You’re finding your voice,” she said. “So, it’s a good time to be able to expound on the voice that you’ve found.”
But when students are learning to speak up about their ideas, they should not forget to allow others to share theirs, too, Garfrerick said.
“You need to hear different ideas, and then you can evolve,” she said. “As you find your voice, give everyone else a chance to voice their opinions as well.”
It is troubling when students try to suppress others, Garfrerick said.
“My biggest concern about First Amendment issues is students misunderstanding,” she said. “It should be all voices are allowed to be heard. I’m very concerned about students who want to shut down the voice of those who have a different opinion than their own.”
While Americans do have freedom of speech, some try to prevent others from using certain words like “retarded” or “gay” as insults.
A video .Mic News Media titled “Let’s Flip the Script on the R-Word” addressed the issue of using this word.
Most people are not targeting a specific group when using this word. Instead they use it to explain something negative that happened or someone who acted foolishly, according to the video.
However, the Department of Communications takes precautions to prevent this misunderstanding, Garfrerick said.
“Thankfully, in the Department of Communications we do educate our students on what (freedom of speech) means,” she said. “You just have to have alternate voices on everything and give them a listen at least.”
If students disagree with an event or speaker on campus, then they simply do not have to go, she said.
“I think (freedom of speech) is important for college students,” said junior Zena Colwill. “I think students should have just as big of a voice as any other adult.”
To read other student opinions on why freedom of speech should have limitations go to florala.net.
Freedom of speech should have restrictions, said freshman Parker Bonds.
“I think there should be limitations because one of my high school buddies just got killed,” Bond said. “He got shot and died. Everybody was sharing stuff, acting like they were best friends and stuff. It really hurt his family more than it helped them.”