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I Can Speak Up, Hence I am Free

Category: 2010 Middle School (Grades 6-8)
Student: Alexa Carter
School: Lewis F. Cole Middle School Fort Lee, NJ (Bergen County)
Teacher: Marianne Nugent

You've just finished delivering the morning newspapers and as you take a well deserved break, you finally decide to read one. The headline reports the latest White House scandal, while the local news showcases articles on the new mayor's performance. Some say he's wasting municipal resources on lesser projects, others debate the contrary. You crumple the newspaper and throw it away, bored. None of that sounds important, right? Yet, even though some news doesn't interest you, imagine if it disappeared. Newspapers, magazines, radio and T.V. broadcasts vanished or reduced to mere one-sided propaganda. Each day, the newspapers you delivered would be about the same self-serving topics, with nothing but servile compliments about the mayor or the White House.

Freedom of speech, and the consequent right to fee press, is an entitlement many take for granted. It's the fundamental liberty to not only express views, but opposing views, to think with or against the mainstream, to voice privately or through the media the core values we stand for. As Thomas Jefferson once said: "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

When a people cannot publicly debate its beliefs and opinions, the voice of the nation is silenced, its mind restrained . There is no progress or improvement in a culture that suppresses the importance of disparate viewpoints, the value of independent thinking, the beauty of individual creativity.

"Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory." - Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

Now, take a second look at the newspaper you crumpled. The topics may not be what you're interested in but suddenly, you're happy they're there.

Now, take a second look at the newspaper you crumpled. The topics may not be what you're interested in but suddenly, you're happy they're there.

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