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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Censorship in the United States

 In general, censorship in the United States, which involves the suppression of speech or other public communication, raises issues of freedom of speech, which is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
This freedom, though fundamental, has also been accompanied since its enshrinement with contest and controversy. For instance, restraints increased during periods of widespread anti-communist sentiment, as exemplified by the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. It is also legal to express certain forms of hate speech so long as one does not engage in the acts being or urge others to commit illegal acts. However, more severe forms have led to people or groups such as the Ku Klux Klan being denied certain marching permits or the Westboro Baptist Church being sued, though the initially adverse ruling against the latter was later overturned on appeal in the US Supreme Court. Thus while legal history has defined certain finite limitations, courts have historically held in general that freedom of speech, in order to exist and function, necessarily extends to even the unpopular, offensive, and distasteful.

The First Amendment is against censorship imposed by laws, but does not give protection against corporate censorship, the sanctioning of speech by spokespersons, employees, and business associates by threat of monetary loss, loss of employment, or loss of access to the marketplace. Legal expenses can sometimes be a significant unseen restraint where there may be fear of suit for libel.
Analysts from Reporters Without Borders rank the United States 47th in the world in terms in their Press Freedom Index, falling from 20th just two years earlier partly because of reaction to the Occupy movement. Certain forms of speech, such as obscenity and defamation, are restricted in major media outlets by the government or by the industry on its own.

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