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In the eyes of most Americans, our Founding Fathers are right up there with God. Like God, the founders have given us guidelines and edicts to lead us through our lives and, like the Bible, the Constitution and the ideals of its framers have numerous interpretations. But a far more worrying similarity is that people use the Founding Fathers and the Constitution to validate their beliefs and objectives. They say things like: “The Founding Fathers wouldn't condone universal health care!” and “The Founding Fathers would want us to bomb the Middle East!” They make statements and carry out deeds in the name of these men who cannot contradict them.

Ridiculously, some people believe that the Founding Fathers wanted us to limit their greatest gift: free speech. The First Amendment to the Constitution protects and guarantees this right, not to favorable speech or “clean” speech, but free speech. Now, it's correctly understood that I can't endanger others by running into a crowded theater screaming “Fire!” if there isn't one, but nowhere in the Constitution (or anywhere else, for that matter) does it say that I can't run through town square screaming four-letter words.

Many would call such an act needlessly obscene. They'd ask, “What if there are children present?” But the truth of the matter is that that is irrelevant. Yelling expletives on public property causes physical harm to no one, and I have every right to do it. That's the beauty of free speech. We say what we want when we want, and even if another disagrees or is offended, they respect our right to express ourselves in any way we choose because in return we protect that same right for them. Voltaire once wisely said, “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Unfortunately, in today's society there are those, some affiliated with our government, who think that they are entitled to put unreasonable restrictions on our freedom of speech. These people want to censor us. They want to replace the words that we have an unalienable right to say with black bars and bleeping sounds. They claim that profanity is obscene and unnecessary, but that is a matter of opinion. What's filth to one man is gold to another.

But what's truly ridiculous is that people have been fined and imprisoned simply for exercising their freedom of speech. Lenny Bruce, a legendary comedian of the ཮s and ླྀs was arrested nine times and convicted twice for “obscenity crimes.” Howard Stern, a radio personality, was repeatedly fined for profanity by the Federal Communications Commission until December 2005, when he moved his show to satellite radio to avoid further persecution. In total, Stern was fined $2.5 million. Between 2001 and 2009, also known as the Bush administration, the FCC levied a shocking $7,928,080 in fines on obscenity, fines on free speech. I can't accurately speak for the Founders any more than those who've already tried it, but I doubt they meant for us to install a swear jar.

Censorship is wrong. Period. It is unlawful and unconstitutional, and I sure as hell am not going to discard the rights bequeathed to me in the Constitution just to pacify some prudish oppressors who don't want to hear what I have to say. I would never deny them their right to disagree with me as vocally, and colorfully, as they like.

So, in the words of Lenny Bruce, I implore you: “Don't lock up these words.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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SomethingWitty said...
Feb. 21 at 1:54 pm
I love this piece, if mainly for the irony that this website has to approve of each essay and doesn't allow harsh words.
Chad S. said...
Feb. 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm
Now why would anyone BAN a book
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm
I agree. What i think is very ironic is the fact that Fahrenheit 451, a book about censorship and how it's wrong, (which i highly recommend) was slowly censored by the author's publishing company because of its use of the h-word and d-word
savetheplanet said...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm
I agree for the most part, but a complete lack of censorship is only okay for adults. Young children shouldn't have access to sources of foul language, etc.
Inkmusic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm
 A bit long, but very well written. I agree with you all the way. This is especially relevant because last week was Banned Books Week.
Chad S. replied...
Oct. 18, 2011 at 10:33 am
What the heck is Banned Book Week?
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm
Hmmm . . . I wonder. . . yeah that's cool inkmusic. my teacher has all of these posters about not banning books and reading banned books, some of which we read in her class.
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