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Freedom of Speech

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By Edited Apr 3, 2014 1 5

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  -Voltaire 


The phrase ‘Freedom of speech’ is the most heeded but at the same time the most controversial issue of the society today. It demands a complete liberty of expression of thoughts into speech by an individual. A layman would define it as “say anything, any time, any where, to anyone”. However, the exact definition is as follows:


“Freedom of speech is the right of an individual to express his or her opinion publicly without any interference, censorship or restriction”.


The right of freedom of speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction but with certain limitations. Not only in the United States the freedom of speech is the most demanded right in most of the countries today and it is the basis of many democracies around the world. Freedom of speech is also a foundation for the freedom of thoughts or vice versa as every human being is free to think the way he wants to, thus it is of utmost importance to express it openly as well. Now the question is do you personally agree with absolute freedom of speech? How do you personally feel when you are free to say anything about anyone at any time? Sounds good to you, isn’t it?


Being able to speak freely is important, as every person needs to have right over is own opinions and expression of his opinions, however at the same time it is also important to realize that if you have an absolute right to say anything and you want others to respect your right, remember that at the same time others have that right too, and you are also equally responsible to respect their right too, as quoted by George Bernard Shaw,

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, "Maxims: Liberty and Equality," 1905.

It is this responsibility that makes it effective. As you demand freedom you are ought to provide freedom too. If you want others to be tolerant of what you say, others demand that too. Also, practically it is very difficult to pursue absolute freedom of speech. The basic reason is that man is a social animal. We live within a society, and hence we have to respect our society too. The promoters of absolute freedom are always restricted by the societal pressures if not any government restrictions. Too much freedom can led to problems like racism, religious and cultural conflicts etc, hence freedom of speech is only significant when practiced ethically in an organized society and thus require certain limitations or restrictions otherwise its not meaningful, as quoted by Samuel Hendel,


“The fact, in short, is that freedom, to be meaningful in an organized society must consist of an amalgam of hierarchy of freedoms and restraints”. 



Jul 21, 2011 4:02pm
I am all for freedom of speech. My wish is that decency would be the guide. After all, let 19s do unto others as we would want them to do unto us.
Mar 27, 2012 5:44pm
Freedom of speech seems to be an integral part of dynamic, creative and fair societies. However the maxim 'One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself', which has been part of most of the major religions and ethnic traditions, is equally important. This maxim is found not only in Christianity but Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism and others. Freedom is paramount but hate speech should not be tolerated.
Mar 28, 2012 12:11am
“Freedom of Speech” truly means reasoned and responsible discourse, that people should be able to freely exchange ideas and philosophies without fear of censorship or retaliation. Hate speech does not fall into that category because there can be no reasoned debate when an antagonist is slinging racial slurs.

Free speech is good -- ABSOLUTE free speech, to spew absurdities or creating a dangerous situation (yelling “Fire!” falsely in a crowded theater) is bad. Good issue to bring up! A thumb for posting something thought provoking.
Apr 16, 2012 2:44pm
You should have a right to ecpress your mind in public without the fear of cessorship
Apr 21, 2012 4:36pm
"Freedom of Speech" is an idealistic concept. People should be able to speak freely, but throughout history this privilege has been abused by some to incite hatred and violence. Free speech is fine, but as vicdillinger says, absolute free speech is bad - and dangerous.
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