Czech Republic – Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms
Denmark – Grundloven
France – Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Germany – Article 5 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Netherlands – Dutch Grondwet
United States of America – United States Constitution
Coming at a costly price, freedom of speech, press, and religion have been a right to us Americans since 1791. As part of our first amendment, everyday citizens can voice their opinions freely without fearing punishment. Journalists are free to scrutinize our government and the things it does.
The press, in my opinion, is like another part of the checks and balances system in America. Eager to find a story, journalists keep government officials in line, improving the nation as a whole. For example, journalists probably have more information on the finances of politicians and government programs than the IRS does. Politicians take one step out of line and a swarm of journalists will not stop harassing them until they are ashamed to show their face in public.
But freedom of the press is a privilege that few countries enjoy. Outside of North America and the European Union, countries like Syria, North Korea, Iran, and China all have very strict rules about what can and can’t be said. China for example, not wanting to take any chances, has banned access to facebook and twitter.
Although censored speech may appear to go hand in hand with oppressive or strict governments, should we be fighting for the rights of other countries’ citizens?
It’s true that free speech and press will improve a country as a whole, but freedom of speech not hard earned will do little for a country. The reason that freedom of press and freedom of speech in America is effective is because the first people to call themselves Americans fought a bloody war to achieve what many of us take for granted.
To say that granting freedom of speech and press is the same as fighting for it is like saying money earned has the same value as the money your parents just give you.
Not only will granting free speech freely be ineffective to do for others, but it should not be the United State’s concern to meddle in the way other countries handle their citizens. It is ignorant for the United States to assume that its beliefs are the only morally or ethically just beliefs.
Lastly, I think it’s wise for American citizens to know that journalists who travel abroad to keep in mind that there is no such thing as international freedom of press. Journalists go into dangerous parts of the world putting their life on the line knowingly, so citizens of America or any European country shouldn’t be surprised when something tragic happens. Journalists can’t expect to be welcome in a country where the news they report defames a federal government.