What Was Not Said

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In the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” However, what constitutes speech? Is there a distinction between pure and symbolic speech?

Speech is not only the words that are formed from the rush of air that travels from the lungs to the larynx. It is not just the oscillations of the vocal folds that flap back and forth to produce phonation. Speech is also symbolic and not simply verbal or “pure.” Speech is the sound and vibrations of my weakening heart as I see my friend falling into an ominous pit of isolation. I felt like Congress, working to make amends to a broken people of silence.

“I can’t believe she told me that!” It was not what was told to me, it was rather what was not said. It was the deafening sounds of the words that did not exit her mouth; it was symbolic speech.