You are on page 1of 2

An Examination of Freedom of Opinion

Freedom of speech and opinion has long been a topic of debate. As far back as th
e founding of the United States people have debated over to what extent should o
ne be allowed to express their opinions. What if these opinions hurt another s rep
utation? What if one s opinions offend someone? In today s world, the debates are id
entical, however, there is a striking similarity between one s own opinion and the
ir tolerance of another s. Essentially if a person s opinion coincides with someone
else s, they are willing to tolerate the public expression of this opinion, even i
n an obnoxious way. In this instance, they wholeheartedly support the right of f
reedom of expression. Similarly, if a person s beliefs differ from ones being publ
icly expressed, they are much more likely to suddenly oppose this freedom of exp
ression. This inconsistency causes many of the debates, so a rigid rule on freed
om of expression must be set in place to stop them. The public expression of one s
opinions must always be protected as these opinions each have value as they hel
p to maintain society s democratic values.
As far back as the late 1700 s, people have debated over the freedom of opinion. I
t was difficult to determine which opinions should be allowed to be publicly exp
ressed and which were too risky or detrimental to express. Around 1787, shortly
after the Constitution was drafted, the Founding Fathers began to draft a Bill o
f Rights after much public pressure. The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights s
tates all the various protected forms of freedom of expression, including, most
notably, freedom of the press and freedom of speech. These rights, as stated in
the Constitution, are inherent and to be equally guaranteed to all people. So by
law the government cannot restrict these viable forms of expression, save sland
er and libel. All opinions are equally worthwhile and protected in the eyes of t
he law. This guarantee by the law does not except a person from societal repercu
ssions after expressing their opinions. Whether openly expressing views against
same-sex marriage as ardent Christians often do or openly expressing one s opinion
regarding a sports team, one must use common sense, taking into account the sit
uation first. For example, it is perfectly viable to talk-down a sports team in
a blog-post, but no so wise in a bar filled with this teams sports fans. This di
stinction is very important to recognize; if something is protected by law, this
does not necessarily make it wise to do.
This past year, the Supreme Court s momentous decision to legalize gay marriage i
n the U.S. has resounded the one of fundamental principles of the nation, that al
l men are created equal , but has also sparked new debates over freedom of express
ion. Prior to this court ruling, society began to slowly become more accustomed
and supportive of gay rights. In today s world society has greatly improved in the
ir support, especially when compared to the homophobic 1960 s. But in some ways, i
n an effort to guarantee long-awaited equality to gay Americans, we have essenti
ally forgotten about the rights of those who oppose gay-marriage. For example, a
s the New Republic described Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty was suspended for
publicly expressing his views against homosexuality. Although the private networ
k A&E is not obligated to act in accordance with Constitutional rights, in this
case he should not have been suspended as he simply expressed his opinion in a m
anner which does not interfere with another s rights. He should be allowed to expr
ess his opinion without fear of losing his job; a key principle of a democratic
society. However, any societal criticism which may result from Robertson s stateme
nt is perfectly viable; societal repercussions are the price one must pay in ord
er to publicly express their opinion.
In the entertainment world, a prevalent example of freedom of opinion can be see
n in the TV show The View. The show is based almost entirely on the expression o
f conflicting viewpoints on controversial current events. The women on this show
are fully allowed by law to openly express their opinions without fear of losin
g their job. However, many of them are met with much opposition from society. Fo
r example, Raven Symone recently received numerous death-threats for her stance
on supporting gay-marriage. Between the ten women on the show, about half are co
nservative and half democratic. This seems illogical as it appears to intentiona
lly introduce unneeded conflict in the show. However, in reality this partisan s

plit is vital to the main purpose of the show, as it encourages debate and allow
s the public to see and hear conflicting opinions; experiencing both sides of a
controversy. On a small scale this valuable freedom of expression directly refle
cts those protected in the Constitution, which play a vital role in the preserva
tion of the United States democratic values as a whole.
Overall, the inherent right of freedom of expression greatly in encouraging and
preserving democracy. The right to lawfully express one s opinion distinguishes de
mocratic societies from the unjust one s in the past. However, one must realize th
at while lawful, this freedom does not ensure protection from societal criticism
or repercussions. Nonetheless, the plentiful and conflicting opinions in today s
society, although can be irritating at times, constitute an integral part of dem
ocracy and is one of the prime factors which helps preserve it in today s troubles
ome world.