The President of Iran, a known terrorist supporter, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is invited to speak at one of America's foremost universities. That is the true definition of freedom. He is accused of extreme social injustice, human rights violations, and even denying the existence of the Holocaust. The freedom of speech amendment allows this man to speak out, and how it may seem as if this situation does not improve people's lives, it, in fact, gives our citizens a great advantage, more than the eye can see.

There are those who believe that he should never have been permitted to speak but in the interest of free speech, it was the right thing to do. Columbia University exercised its American right in not only allowing him to verbalize his ideas, but in also giving its students the opportunity to listen. This was done in the true spirit of America whose rights have defined this nation for centuries. Just because we fear or disagree with someone's ideas, that doesn't mean that we should not allow them to exercise free speech.

The mere fact of knowing your enemy's ideas and what is going on in the world around you is a spectacular right which many in other countries never experience. Having a foe convey his personal beliefs and evil plans is an extraordinary advantage to an opposing country. Knowing one's enemy will help maintain the security of our nation in the long run. We need to understand the world we live in, in order to defend ourselves and our lives will improve.

The power of speech is constantly used by presidents, military leaders, celebrities, and ordinary citizens. America has the right to defend itself and using the power of free speech to change the world is what makes this country so great.

Your Essay

The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia invited students to explore constitutional rights during this fall's 2007 American Freedom Essay Contest, which was cosponsored by The Inquirer. More than 2,000 essays from 100 schools were entered in three age categories. Alexander Sliwecki, a 10th-grader taught by Megan Schweitzer in Cinnaminson, won the high school category. Winners earned a field trip for their class.

Sophomore Alexander Sliwecki lives in Cinnaminson.