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My Gratitude for Freedom of Speech

Category: 2014 Middle School (Grades 6-8)
Student: Emma Contiguglia
School: The Nightingale-Bamford School New York, NY (New York County)
Teacher: Amanda Goodwin

Our government doesn't allow us to read certain books, watch certain movies, or listen to certain music like Americans are allowed to. I was shocked when my summer debate camp roommate from Shanghai, China told me this when we were talking about the differences between communism and democracy. She explained that in her country, the government does not want its citizens to be exposed to foreign ideas that government officials consider a bad influence. The list of illegal entertainment includes music by Jay-Z, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry; and television shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Hannah Montana. My roommate admitted that she was worried that she would be breaking her country's laws if she listened to banned music or visited illegal websites while she was visiting America.

On that day I became aware of how lucky I am to be an American and to live in our democratic country. My conversation with my Chinese roommate made me feel especially grateful to live in a country where Freedom of Speech is protected by law. The first amendment of the United States Constitution protects my freedom of expression and speech. In America I have full access to information and ideas, I can read whatever books and watch whatever movies I wish, and I can freely express my opinions. I cannot imagine life in a country like my roommate's where I would need to worry if my opinions and words were illegal and where the only ideas I could hear are those considered acceptable by the government. In America, Freedom of Speech makes our lives better because we can all learn from one another's ideas even if we or our government officials disagree with those ideas.


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