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ESL students, international visitors, and many American citizens often express shock, dismay, and outrage over television programs. How can the news show people struggling on a rooftop, a criminal cursing the police, or a comedian mocking a vice-presidential candidate – or the sitting United States president? What about those pseudo-pornographic junk shows and awful words that children should never hear? Or that crazy commentator stirring up trouble with lies and hateful generalizations?
Free speech does not mean polite, wise, or smart speech – even on television and the radio. Gossip, pseudo-news, and sensationalism also sells. While television is regulated, cable shows remain a free speech zone. Is this smart? Yes!
“The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a great deal of rubbish.”
Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), U.S. Supreme Court Justice