to Maddie Phelan,

Winner of the 2024 Bud Boucher Memorial Scholarship.

The First Amendment of the Constitution protects the fundamental right of freedom of speech. Although this right is safeguarded by the Constitution, there have been recent actions that have challenged free speech. Proponents of reducing free speech argue that speech that is offensive or makes others uncomfortable should be banned because they place their morals above this fundamental right of all Americans. Therefore, it is crucial to address the significance of free speech to counter those who seek to limit it.


Free speech fosters tolerance and mutual respect by allowing one to hear other opinions and perspectives. Although one may not agree with the opinions of another individual, the ability to hear those other perspectives allows one to approach controversial discussions with an open-mind. Tolerance is defined as the willingness to accept beliefs that are different from your own, so listening to other perspectives and accepting the fact that others disagree with your opinion helps to build this important skill. However, if certain speech is restricted because one defines it as provocative or jarring language, then one will never develop tolerance. Rather, they will continue to surround themselves with language that satisfies them, ultimately inhibiting the ability to respect others.


Freedom of speech helps contribute to the diverse American population, which is something that makes America so unique. The United States is an ethnically diverse and multicultural nation, so it is inevitable that there will be a multitude of perspectives regarding a given issue or topic. There are individuals who want to ban the ideas of certain communities because they consider their ideas as speech that makes them uncomfortable. However, the preamble of the Constitution states “we the people”, implying that every American citizen is entitled to have the rights listed in the Constitution, which includes the freedom of speech. Therefore, every individual is allowed to speak freely on any given topic, regardless of how it may make others feel. Society will then be filled with an array of opinions and a multitude of perspectives, which will create a diverse environment. Diversity is essential to progress and progress is something that Americans pride themselves on. This ultimately raises the question of why would we want to ban certain speech when that speech is actually an opportunity to accept diversity and stimulate societal progress.


Although certain words or expressions can cause discomfort, it is far more beneficial to preserve the freedom of speech. By fostering tolerance and contributing to diversity, free speech remains an imperative right when trying to fulfill the values of a representative democracy. Therefore, one’s right to free speech should not be limited because free speech allows for a society that values diversity and respects the ideas of others.


Bud Boucher.

The Bud Boucher Memorial Scholarship was established to honor the memory of Bud Boucher a longtime resident of Wilton, who loved America, was intensely interested in the political process, and was committed to participating as an engaged, informed citizen.

Learn more about Bud.