Protesting... Can I say It?...What is free speech?
In the most basic sense, free speech is the expression of facts and information, ideas and opinions, in written or spoken forms, in any manner you choose on any subject you choose.
That's basically our right to say what, how and when we like!Essentially, the government or school should not ban the expression of any idea. That means they may not declare one point of view as correct and ban or disfavour political ideas or attitudes that it deems false. Making us keep quiet while a favourite programme is on TV is a different matter all together though!
To criticise or otherwise seek change also requires knowledge of what is going on in the first place though, so make sure you have the facts before you start! Click here to read about how to act. There are also important statutory protections (Laws) on people's rights to learn about certain government bodies, such as the freedom of information laws.
This does not mean that a person can say anything in any manner at any place or at any time. The courts have recognised certain exceptions to free speech and certain circumstances where its exercise can be curtailed. This could include kinds of speech is any that includes words inherently likely to cause a fight, defamatory statements that falsely assault a person's reputation, certain kinds of obscene/racist speech, and deceitful commercial speech advertising goods or products. Let's face it we often hear calls to certain demonstrations banned etc. and this is why.
Your school will not restrict what is said, but it will restrict where, when and how it is said. Such "time and place and manner limitations", so long as they are neutral with respect to who is speaking and what is being said, are allowed as long as they don't unreasonably inhibit the ability to get the message across. We see common examples of this in Northern Ireland with the "Orange" marchers. The dispute is often about where they march and not if they can march.
You generally have the right to exercise rights of free speech and assembly so long as they do not interfere with the operation of the regular school program. However, you can get into trouble for distributing or displaying materials, which the school administration considers obscene (according to the current legal definitions), libellous, or that endorses or recommends the commission of unlawful acts, EVEN on the INTERNET!
The above applies to the political process in the United Kingdom and follows the laws of the UK.
- The Pupiline Team