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Student Projects: Freedom of Speech

Stossel Essay Contest


Is Free Speech becoming more limited in America? John Stossel considers that in his recent Fox News hour, "Censored in America." Words can wound, so should we have increased limits around free speech? Why or why not? Does free speech have a special role in a free society?

"Censored in America" says that students are sometimes kept away from words and ideas they might find disturbing. What do you think? Are there areas in society today where we should allow more free speech? Are there areas where we should restrict free speech?

Please write a 500-1000 word essay on this topic. You should include your own examples of free speech controversies, and you must include at least one reference to the TV special or Stossel's book, "No They Can't."

Salem History

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Log in using the ID: sunvalley (notice there is no space).

Stossel Essay Grading Areas

Essays will be graded in the following areas:

  • • Originality (is the essay based on original arguments, going beyond points made by John and information included in the video/book, building a case that is logical and persuasive?)
  • • How interesting is it?
  • • Accuracy (including whether the essay directly addresses the Essay Topic and whether it references the video or book, as required)
  • • Structure (including vocabulary and writing style)
  • • Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation

World Book Online

Freedom of Speech Articles


Research databases

Stossel Essay Tips

  • Tips from the people who will grade your essay:  
  • • Proofread your essay.
  • • Have someone else proofread your essay (no, that's not cheating).
  • • Ensure that all names are spelled correctly.
  • • Check grammar rules if you're unsure.
  • • Check your facts.
  • • Double-check quotes.
  • • Additional research, while not required, will earn you extra points.
  • • Broadening the discussion to areas that were not discussed in the video is virtually required if you hope to win a top prize.
  • • DON'T rehash what is in the video (or book) or report only on examples in the video.
  • • DO use the video or book as a springboard to present your own angle on the issues and explore new examples.
  • • It is NOT necessary that you agree with John Stossel. If you write a good essay that makes a strong case in opposition to John's view, you'll have every chance to win a top prize.