The Cost of Speech

Lauren - 47119, Indiana
Entered on February 16, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: freedom
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When I was walking along the streets of downtown Nashville on a particularly hot summer day, I came upon a middle-aged man playing a guitar. Although the music escaping from the man’s instrument was pleasing, my attention was immediately drawn to a sticker that had been affixed to the front of the guitar. The sticker stated, “Talk is cheap, free speech isn’t”. Even after the man had finished his masterpiece and had moved on to another, I stood there for several minutes. I began to ponder the powerful words which were printed on the simple sticker, and I attempted to find the true meaning of the particular phrase.

After I had debated the logistic behind the words, I began to think of the First Amendment and the freedoms and rights that the citizens of our country are granted. In a country where freedom thrives, the First Amendment is often challenged, and it seems to be that many people believe in freedom from speech, rather than freedom of speech. As I was contemplating the true meaning of the quote, my role as a student journalist as well as my rights as an American citizen filtered within my mind. Being a student journalist, I come face to face with the First Amendment on a daily basis. I am constantly given the opportunity of witnessing events that happen throughout my school, and am able to tackle them with courage, truth, and integrity. These events that I witness are newsworthy, and may even be controversial at times.

While I stood there in wonderment, all of these thoughts entered my mind. I was later informed that the quote that I had encountered had survived for decades, which revealed the ongoing debate of the First Amendment and the rights it grants. Whether it be wearing a black armband around your arm, or writing a controversial, courageous story, published for hundreds to see in a school newspaper, aspects of the First Amendment are constantly present. Over time, as I have grown older, I have also realized that freedom of speech has not only been an issue in my generation, but in others as well. This I Believe.