Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Humans have made remarkable strides in protecting and preserving free speech despite an overwhelming historical legacy of censorship and suppression of dissent. Given that history makes clear how easy it is to slide into authoritarianism and sacrifice our rights in the name of security, and given that we find ourselves frequently facing the temptation to do so, this is not an unreasonable position. If the United States is one of the few bastions of free speech in an otherwise unfree world, then we must defend this freedom vehemently, or so the argument goes. While this position is not an unreasonable one, it diminishes much of the important complexity of the debate. For speech necessarily can never be unlimited, and speech can have serious consequences in many cases. With the advent of the internet and social media, now more than ever we must reconsider when and for what reasons we are unwilling to limit speech. If we cannot establish solid, consistent ways to make this determination, we will find ourselves paralyzed if and when limiting speech becomes necessary. In this paper, I will examine the various principles we might use to draw that line, their implications for speech, and especially how to apply such principles to the internet going forward, which presents today the greatest challenges to free speech that we face.
Forte, Jamie, "Free Speech and Its Limits: An Exploration of Tolerance in the Digital Age" (2022). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1837.
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