Free Speech Zone

no speech

Free speech zones (also known as ‘First Amendment Zones’) are areas set aside in public places for political activists to exercise their right of free speech in the US. The First Amendment states that ‘Congress shall make no law… abridging… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ The existence of free speech zones is based on court decisions stipulating that the government may regulate the time, place, and manner—but not content—of expression.

The stated purpose is to protect the safety of those attending the political gathering, or for the safety of the protesters themselves. Critics, however, suggest that such zones are ‘Orwellian,’ and that authorities use them in a heavy-handed manner to censor protesters by putting them literally out of sight of the mass media, hence the public, as well as visiting dignitaries.  Civil libertarians claim that such areas are used as a form of censorship and public relations management to conceal the existence of popular opposition from the mass public and elected officials.

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