Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Limits On Free Speech And The First Amendment

The First Amendment establishes restrictions on Congress concerning freedom of speech, press, and religion, and the right to a peaceful assembly. For the purposes of this class the First Amendment inquires that congress cannot restrict freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So what does freedom of speech actually mean? According to our textbook Media Now, “freedom of speech is the idea that speech and media content should be free from government restriction” (432). However there are two limits on freedom of speech to which the First Amendment does not protect against; libelous statements and plagiarism.

A libelous statement is a written form of defamation that consists of false information that is damaging to a person’s reputation. Peter Zenger, one of the first writers to be accused of libel, actually won his case against the British Governor of New York because the court ruled that if the statement written is true, then the statement cannot libelous.

Now, plagiarism consists of using another’s created work without giving the author recognition or passing someone else’s work as your own. Jayson Blair wrote for the New York Times and was forced to resign after he was convicted of plagiarism, using fake or made up witnesses to back up arguments in his articles. He also passed off other author’s works as his own. “36 of the 73 reports [he] filed” were somehow falsified (Hamilton). The fine for plagiarism can be anywhere from making an ‘F’ in the course to being expelled from your school or university. However, in some cases, plagiarism can be considered a felony and can be punishable up to a $250,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.

It is crucial that we as students know our boundaries in the media world so one day we are not accused of any of this unlawful activity.

Hamilton, James. (2004) New York Times stays strong after turbulent year. Campaign UK, 28, 15-15. http://p8331polychrest.tamu.edu.ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/V/4GBKISMPBDL85EGH7QEN7QEHBV8YUP2HYS53C4QVI6Q41C2IY9-82532func=quick-3&short

Hoskins, Michael W. Libel Case Could Set New Standard. (2009, January 7-20). The Indiana Lawyer, Vol. 19-22. http://content.epnet.com/pdf9/pdf/2009/BTO/07Jan09/36443627.pdf?T=P&P=AN&K=36443627&EbscoContent=dGJyMNXb4kSeqLM4xNvgOLCmrlGeqLFSsK24SrCWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGus0m0q7JQuePfgeyx44Dt6fIA&D=bth

LaRose, Robert, & Straubahaar, Joseph. (2008). Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. (5th ed.). CA: Thomson Learning.Inc.

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