On June 15th, the Espionage Act sanctioned soon after the United States entered World War I. The Espionage Act dealt with many definitive issues such as punishing acts of infiltration and sabotage. The Act, as amended by the Sedition Act, was extremely contentious for many immigrants who were opposed to war, the military draft, and violations of their free speech rights. Particularly, the Espionage Act made it a crime deliberately to interfere with U.S. war efforts by delivering false information about the war by obstructing U.S. recruitment, provoking insubordination and disloyalty.
The Sedition Act made the language of the Espionage Act more unambiguous by making it illegal to use disloyal, profane, or unmannerly language to criticize the U.S. Constitution as well as the government, anyone in the military, or towards the flag. The Sedition Act had “prohibited anyone from uttering, writing, or publishing ‘any abusive or disloyal language’ concerning the flag, the Constitution, government or armed forces”. (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell 611).
War was a very difficult time for Americans. Usually we are able to speak our thoughts because as Americans we were given the right to freedom of speech. Things were so strict back then that you would be punished for given your opinion on war strategies and how things were handled. The government had the power to punish a wide range of speech and behaviors, including, hindering the sale of U.S. bonds, flaunting a German flag, or giving a speech that supported the opponent. Individuals convicted of disrupting these laws would be charged amounts of up to ten thousand dollars and also be sentenced to prison for as long as twenty years or more (US-History – Entry Into World War 1).
Liberty and National Security go hand in hand. Liberty is protected and sustained for the long run through National Security. National Security is achieved through the people’s liberty, in a nation without liberty, the people are not secure. Also, when the government takes away the people’s rights to protect their lives, then the people have no control over their lives and are thus not safe.
It is not justifiable to violate certain civil liberties in the name of National Security. There is no “protection” worth giving up your rights and liberties for. If it is protected by the constitution, it cannot be infringed. If you strengthen Civil Liberties it will strengthen National Security. By undermining Civil Liberties, you are draining peoples’ freedom and helpfulness to fight against security threats. It weakens the democratic process and voice of the people to speak truth to power.