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Free Speech Viewing Guide Answer Key

  1. Why is freedom of speech essential in a democracy? It ensures that the public can have conversations on pressing issues while allowing a variety of viewpoints to be expressed. It also helps citizens hold their government accountable. 
  2. In your own words, define the “marketplace of ideas.” Answers may vary. Students should note this is the idea that individuals can freely exchange ideas with each other through creativity, discussion, and dissent in order to find truth. 
  3. What did the Sedition Act of 1798 ban? It banned individuals from speaking in a disloyal way towards the government, president, or Congress, or to bring them into contempt or disrepute. 
  4. What did the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 do? They banned speaking out against American involvement in World War I and the draft. 
  5. What is the “Clear and Present Danger” doctrine? The idea that Congress can ban speech if it likely to bring about “substantive evils” that the government has a right to prevent. 
  6. In the modern day, what are some limits that the government may apply to speech? Statements that are false, obscene, or incite violence may be restricted in some cases.