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This website was submitted as final project for the ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING class (MMC 5015) taught by prof. David Carlson at the University of Florida, College of Journalism and Communications.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees American citizens liberty of speech, and protection from government or legislative interference. Speech in this context can range from spoken to printed words to images, from taking position (and opposition) to carrying it out, from speaking one's mind to violently debating issues.

Likewise, organizations and institutions also enjoy First Amendment protection. Of those, the media as the fourth estate are at the top of hierarchy. The "watchdog" role that the media have traditionally held could not possibly to accomplished in the absence of protection and freedom of expression.

While the First Amendment covers a broad range of speech, its provisions are not absolute. Under certain conditions, courts have the authority to censor or punish speech. The government must prove there is a compelling interest to request censorship, and the restriction on speech is narrowly tailored to accomplish such interest.

Not all media are granted the same level of constitutional protection. Broadcasting receives the least, given its "uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of all Americans," as Justice Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court put it. For that matter, this website looks at obscene and indecent speech in broadcast media, and restrictions that courts have tried to place upon it.

Given the topic under discussion, some may find parts of this research offensive. Please consider carefully whether you want to proceed or not.




intro | indecency | obscenity | sources | author

Although the author of this site is associated with the University of Florida, the ideas and opinions expressed herein are in no way endorsed by the University.

Copyright © Cristina Popescu 2002
To use material from this site, please contact me.
Last updated Thursday December 5, 2002