Know Your Rights: Freedom of Speech

How well do you know the First Amendment? Our quiz series will test your knowledge on each of the five tenets of the First Amendment and challenge your assumptions about the ways the First Amendment protects human rights in the United States. This first quiz covers some general information about your First Amendment protected freedom of speech.
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True or False: Silence is a form of protected speech.
Most people connect the right to remain silent to 5th Amendment Miranda Rights — the words you hear if you are getting arrested — but the right to silence is also protected under the first amendment. The government cannot force you to say anything.
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True or False: Obscenity is protected under the First Amendment.
Obscenity is not a form of protected speech, but the definition of obscenity has changed over time. The U.S. Supreme Court set up a test for obscenity in its 1973 decision Miller v. California. Generally, offensive speech is not protected if it violates an existing law AND and lacks any artistic, political, scientific, or educational value AND would be considered objectionable and meritless by the average citizen. Since artistic value is pretty subjective, it’s very hard to prove that speech obscene.
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True or False: Hate Speech is not protected under the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court does not recognize the concept of hate speech. However, if the hateful speech is connected to a "true threat" or contains "fighting words" then the speech would not be protected.

Freedom of speech may protect hateful speech, but it doesn't protect actual violence, direct threats, and other more tangible forms of discrimination or intimidation.


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Which of the following would have the weakest First Amendment protections?
While commercial speech is protected, it is less protected than political speech or artistic expression.
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Which of the following groups has limited free speech rights?

Although all groups are protected by the First Amendment, the court has allowed the military to enforce some minor restrictions on freedom of speech for active-duty soldiers to promote morale and meet certain overriding demands of discipline.


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True or False: Slander is protected by the First Amendment.
Libel and slander are both forms of non-protected speech. The First Amendment was designed to promote truth by protecting controversial political opinions and supporting a free press. Slander (a false statement to hurt someone's character) and libel (publishing a hurtful lie) hurt the pursuit of truth. Perjury, or lying under oath, is also not protected.
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Which of the following types of speech is never protected by the First Amendment?
The government can regulate false advertising, especially when the deception could harm consumers. Commercial speech is granted a lower level of protection than other forms of speech.
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True or False: Social media companies can ban users for offensive speech?
Social media companies are private platforms. The First Amendment only protects you from the Government and state actors.
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Your Senator posts about a new law on Twitter. In the comments, you criticize the law as well as other policy issues. You get blocked. Can this Senator block you on Twitter?
Even though Twitter is a private platform, the Senator is using it in an official capacity to announce policy. In this case, the private platform becomes a public space, and the Senator can't block you without violating your rights. Put simply, private platforms and citizens can block you, but public officials cannot.
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