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Freedom of Expression

  • Date Submitted: 02/19/2011 04:41 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 51.9 
  • Words: 1059
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Freedom to communicate ideas without restraint, whether orally or in print or by other means of communication.
Related Terms: Expressive Association, First Amendment, Speech, Heckler's Veto
Freedom of expression is a derivative of a basic human right sometimes expressed in more limited language such as freedom of speech, freedom of thought or freedom of the press.
In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms covers all the bases by stating:
"Everyone has the ... fundamental ... of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication..."
In Edmonton Journal, Justice Cory of Canada's Supreme Court wrote:
"It is difficult to imagine a guaranteed right more important to a democratic society than freedom of expression. Indeed a democracy cannot exist without that freedom to express new ideas and to put forward opinions about the functioning of public institutions. The concept of free and uninhibited speech permeates all truly democratic societies and institutions. The vital importance of the concept cannot be over-emphasized."
In R v Zundel, Justice McLachlin wrote:
"The purpose of the guarantee is to permit free expression to the end of promoting truth, political or social participation, and self-fulfillment. That purpose extends to the protection of minority beliefs which the majority regard as wrong or false.

"The guarantee of freedom of expression serves to protect the right of the minority to express its view, however unpopular it may be; adapted to this context, it serves to preclude the majority's perception of truth or public interest from smothering the minority's perception. The view of the majority has no need of constitutional protection; it is tolerated in any event. Viewed thus, a law which forbids expression of a minority or false view on pain of criminal prosecution and imprisonment, on its face, offends the purpose of the guarantee of free...

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