Sample Paper on Freedom of Speech and Press

Over the years, the freedom of speech and press has been immensely valued in democratic societies. In the United States (US), for instance, the freedom of speech and press is protected – as a right – in the 1st amendment to the US constitution (Nelson, n.d). The constitution prohibits the congress from making laws that encroach on the citizen’s freedom of speech, or that of the press. This decision was informed upon reflection on the vital role this freedom plays in democracy. My essay vividly explains why I agree with the proposition: without the freedom of speech and press, democracy is not possible.

Diamond (2015) defines democracy as a form of government in which the highest power is with the people who elect their leaders. In such a government, the citizens exercise this power either directly or indirectly through their democratically elected agents; the majority rules. Since the people have supreme power, gagging them or the press denies them their right. The people should be allowed to enjoy the freedom of speech since it is through this that they will exercise their power democratically. It is also through the press, as a tool, that the people communicate to their government and to each other. The press should, therefore, be free since it is important in many ways.

Firstly, the press acts as a government and public watchdog which checks the excesses of the government and other leaders. The public is made aware of what their business or academic leaders are up to. The media acts as the eye of the general public and serves them with information. According to Nelson, an eHow contributor, the Watergate scandal of 1972 would not have come to the limelight were it not for the press (n.d). The people would not have known the illegalities that President Nixon and his government were being involved in to ensure his re-election. Secondly, the press provides a level and even playing field for all. Without the press, the government would not be for the people (as democracy demands) but for a selected few: the leaders. Corruption would be the order of the day as the leaders enrich themselves at the expense of the people who elected them to office. There would be no democracy as the will of the people would not be done. Bryce (2002) argues thatwithout the press,the Enron scandal, of 2001, would not have been exposed. Enron’s executive would have continued misleading its board of directors and the general public. The press acted as an eye to the people and unearthed the huge scandal.The press is also able to sway the public’s opinion. Through the press, the opinion of the public can be changed through civic education. This way, the people become more aware of the issues affecting them and this guides their opinion.

Evidently, without freedom of speech and the press, democracy is not possible. It is only when the people are free to voice their opinion responsibly that they can exercise the supreme power vested in them. Through the press, the people are able to communicate and be informed. In addition, the people are able to put the government and its affairs on check and make their leaders more accountable. A society with the freedom of speech and the press is, undoubtedly, a democratic society.

References

Bryce, R. (2002) .Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the death of Enron.Oxford: PublicAffairs.

Diamond, L.(2015). Facing up to the democratic recession.Journal of democracy,

Nelson, T. (n.d).Advantages and Disadvantages of Freedom of the Press.eHow