Portal:Freedom of Speech
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Portal:Freedom of Speech

The Freedom of speech portal

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)--Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The right to freedom of expression has been recognized as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law. A lot of countries have constitutional law that protects free speech. Terms like free speech, freedom of speech and freedom of expression are used interchangeably in political discourse. However, in legal sense, the freedom of expression includes any activity of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.

Article 19 of the UDHR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice." The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals." (Full article...)

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Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park, photographed in April 2006
In Singapore, Speakers' Corner is an area located within Hong Lim Park where people can demonstrate, hold exhibitions and performances, and speak freely on most topics. It was launched on 1 September 2000 as a "free speech area" where speaking events could be held without the need to apply for a licence under the Public Entertainments Act (Cap. 257, 1985 Rev. Ed.), now the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (Cap. 257, 2001 Rev. Ed.) ("PEMA"). However, it was necessary for people to register their intention to speak at the venue with a police officer at the Kreta Ayer Neighbourhood Police Post any time within 30 days before the event, though there was no requirement for the police to be informed of the topic of the proposed speech. Other conditions imposed were that speeches had to take place between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., and the use of sound amplification devices was prohibited. In 2002, exhibitions and performances were permitted to be held at Speakers' Corner. Conditions for the use of Speakers' Corner were further liberalized in 2008. Responsibility for registering people wishing to speak or stage an exhibition or performance was taken over by the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, and online registration was introduced. It became possible to hold demonstrations provided they are organized by Singapore citizens and the participants are only citizens and permanent residents. Events can now be held around the clock, and self-powered amplification devices like loudhailers may be used between 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.

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The following are images from various freedom of speech-related articles on Wikipedia.

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Louis Brandeis
Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856 – 1941) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish immigrant parents who raised him in a secular mode. He enrolled at Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of twenty with the highest grade average in the college's history. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Brandeis to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, his nomination was bitterly contested, partly because, as Justice William O. Douglas wrote, "Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . . [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court." He was eventually confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 47 to 22 on June 1, 1916, and became one of the most famous and influential figures ever to serve on the high court. His opinions were, according to legal scholars, some of the "greatest defenses" of freedom of speech and the right to privacy ever written by a member of the high court.

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Jonathan Zittrain

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Elena Kagan
-- Elena Kagan, (Harvard Law Bulletin, 2005)

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