Are limits on freedom of speech justified by war?  

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There are two viewpoints about whether the government should be allowed to limit our freedom of speech during times of war. I’ll present the views of both sides, and then you can make an informed decision.

During times of war, it is common for the government to limit our freedom of speech. From the perspective of the government, this is necessary because the government doesn’t want our enemies to believe that our people don’t support the war or the war effort. If our enemies believe this, it may encourage them to continue fighting us with the belief that if our people don’t support the war or the war effort, we might have to stop fighting in the war. In World War I, the government passed the Sedition Act. This law made it illegal to publicly criticize the government or the President. The Espionage Act also made it illegal to conduct anti-war activities. The people generally put up with these restrictions because they didn't want the war to drag on because our enemies might have believed that the American public didn’t support the war or the war effort.

On the other side of the issue, there are people who believe the government shouldn’t be able to limit our freedom of speech during times of war. These people believe that being critical of the war or the war effort may send a message to the government how the American people feel about our involvement in the war or about how the American people feel about the war effort. The protests during the Vietnam War would be a good example that represents this point of view. Many Americans were against this war, and they let the government know this through various protests and defiant actions. These actions included protests, demonstrations, not registering for the war, and not serving in the war if drafted for it. The ability to criticize the government is one of our basic freedoms. This freedom is one of the factors that separate us from other governments that try to suppress the rights of the people they govern. These people would argue that it isn’t acceptable to limit our freedom of speech during times of war.

Now it is your turn. What do you think of the government suppressing our freedom of speech during times of war?

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