By: Matthew Larson
People in America have always enjoyed many freedoms. These freedoms range from speech or expression to the right of owning a gun. The United States Constitution states that in the first amendment we are granted freedom of speech. But, where do these boundaries of freedom stop. In advertising there is no freedom of speech and the boundaries are not limitless. Why is it that we can have this freedom, but when a company tries to display a message there are guidelines?
It is simple, companies already have the power over influence and if we granted companies the ability to say whatever they wanted then censorship and all the rules would head out of the door. Therefor there are laws in place that assist the guidelines set by organizations appointed by the government. But, in Washington who is the ultimate decision maker? There is a set of individuals that regulate the freedoms we have. If someone were to get murdered in an advertisement then there would be great concern from viewers. However what about if someone gets murdered in a real life setting, or how about a group of protesters speaking aloud about something they feel very strongly about. If a business wants to speak out in some fashion against something they believe in though it’s considered unethical and immoral.
Advertising is interpreted as a distinct form of speech, which could and should be protected by the right to free speech. However there are some exceptions lies in advertising, certain types of advertising for kids, advertising for harmful products, and hidden persuaders. These are types of advertising that very apparently cause harm. They take away people’s freedom of choice at an often very deep and unconscious level. They harm people’s health and they mislead people and force them to buy stuff that they really don’t find necessary to buy. The freedom to increase one’s profit doesn’t outweigh the benefits of limiting these kinds of advertising. It is a general rule that the freedom of one shouldn’t limit the freedom of another.
Historically, advertising has not received the same constitutional protection as political speech, one form of free speech the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the First Amendment. Political speech was valued for its role in guiding us toward a more just, democratic society, "a more perfect union." But, over the past few decades the courts have taken a different view, granting free speech rights to commercial interests. It is both limiting and is not clear on how congress can take a position to limit advertising speech rights. Stations could be the censor rather than the government. It is a belief of many that we should be given the right to hear what we choose and say what we want to say.
There is no indication that a true freedom of speech will be granted to advertising. Laws will continue to be made and passed limiting what we can really see, and though there are many companies and businesses that stretch the boundary of this freedom. I will remain to be seen if someone will break this boundary with an effective and very appealing message. People have to take the initiative to create a society in which we can be able to hear all kinds of speech on every platform and on many levels.
Limiting Free Speech (15): Restricting Advertising Posted on January 29, 2009 by Filip Spagnoli