Debate It!

The First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech was intended to protect citizens against government censorship. Citizens are free to express their views, even (and especially) if their views are critical of the government. The First Amendment protects citizens who express their personal and political views in songs, and content-based restrictions on speech are unconstitutional. But can the FCC punish broadcast networks if a musician uses explicit language? Does it matter how the language is explicit—violently explicit? Sexually explicit? Politically explicit? In this activity, students will apply what they know about the First Amendment by considering two scenarios and debating the constitutionality of certain government actions.

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