The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment’s protection of speech to extend well beyond speeches and books to virtually anything that the human creative impulse can produce. The First Amendment embodies the belief that in a free and democratic society, individual adults must be free to decide for themselves what to read, write, paint, draw, compose, see, and hear.
Provocative and controversial art and in-your-face entertainment frequently test our commitment to this belief. Why oppose censorship when scenes of murder dominate video entertainment, when works of art can directly insult peoples’ religious beliefs, and when pornography abounds on the Internet? Why not let the majority’s morality and taste dictate what others can look at or listen to?
The answer is simple and timeless: A free society is based on an individual’s right to decide what art they want—or do not want—to see. Once you allow the government to censor one person, it has the power to censor you or something you like. The ACLU advocates for the principle that free expression for ourselves requires free expression for others.