Free speech should have limitations 2

Outline:

  1. Introduction
    1.1) Hate speech adds fire to the fuel as it brings global chaos through blasphemy and cultural sensitivities.
  2. Ideology and the historical perspective of free speech (in a western context)
    2.1) In the constitution of US, UK, and other western states.
    2.2) Hate speech of anti-Islam brings turmoil. i.e; (new US president) Trump’s Islamophobia.
  3. Why should free speech have limitations?
    3.1) Global chaos- A direct fall out of the unbridled speech
    3.1.1) Political unrest across the world owing to violation of the human rights.
    3.1.2) Anti-Muslim speeches and ill-will among countries and religious community
    3.1.3) Sectarian gaps by refusing privileged rights to minorities.
    The incidents of controversial statements for sacred religious personalities and resultant issues have been created in Pakistan from 2010 to 2016.
    3.2) Eruptions of the extremism as the corollary of free speech
    3.2.1) Clash of civilization.
    3.2.2) Distrust and Hostility deteriorating the social fabric
    3.2.3) Violent public reaction at derogatory remarks and the reciprocity goes on e.g. two people attack the French Magazine for publishing blasphemous caricatures rendering 12 staff members dead. In return, there began another series of offensive acts.
    3.3. ‘Free speech’ serving as a tool for the western agenda
    3.3.1) Bias against Islamic norms and preaching.
    3.3.2) Contradictory reaction towards the ‘Free speech’ demonstrated by Western powers e.g:-
    i) Favoring Satanic verses by Sulman Rushdi
    ii) Blasphemous movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ in 2012
  4. iii) Blasphemous caricatures with derogatory remarks published in Denmark in 2008 and by ‘Charlie Hebdo’ now – all in the pretext of freedom of speech but intolerance at demonstrations against these acts taking place all over the world.
  5. Measures to redeem the belligerence
    4.1) Well-defined law making by the UN to protect the religious sentiments.
    4.2) Promoting dignity and peace ‘for all’
  6. Conclusion

Essay

Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinion and ideas. It is the cherished desire of every individual living in a civilized society but there should be a very common and general rule of right and freedom; “my right stops when it infringes upon your right”. The question that why free speech should have limitations is the globally echoed question for which the answer is quite absolute. Words have consequences and they frequently inspire actions. A primary function of language is to communicate with others in order to influence them. If speech does have an influence than free speech should have limitations. Despite the global democracies speak eloquently about the protection of human rights and dignity their unbridled freedom of speech has triggered potential issues of religious and cultural prejudices stirring the violent riots across the globe. Free speech should not put the world’s peace and an individual’s dignity at stake, and for this, the international organizations have a decisive role to play. On the objectionable, YouTube video the then UN secretary Ban Ki Mon was of the view “My position is that freedom of expression which is a fundamental right should not be abused by such disgraceful, such shameful acts”

The apparent assumption of free speech defenders is that offensive speech is essentially harmless- that is just words with no demonstrable link to consequences. But the question of whether speech can really incite someone to bad behavior seems irresponsibly obtuse. The speech created an impact. If that weren’t so, there would be no multi-billion dollar advertising industry, no campaigns for political office, no motivational speakers or books, no citizen-led petitions, no public service announcements, and no church sermons. Along with a myriad of other proven examples where speech leads others to act. The vitality of imposing restrictions to restrict and manage free speech can be from the ‘Rwandan Genocide’ in 1994. Rwandan radio station, RTLM (1993-1994) played a critical role in provoking the Rwandan genocide. It projected the racist propaganda, charging the racial hostility, which ultimately led to the butchery. As per the estimate of the Harvard University, approximately 50,000 of the deaths were caused by the station’s broadcasts. Although the views in all the transmissions, were mere expositions of the opinions held by the tellers, they were in open contradiction of the greater good. Hence limiting and keeping checks on free speech is crucial.

Though having a lopsided stance on the right of the free speech the western democracies still have certain statues on the right of free speech. Many countries criminalize hate speech in a more encompassing way, although enforcement is often weak and spotty. A typical example is of Canada, where it is illegal to “expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt. On the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination” (Canadian Human Rights Act) and to willfully promote hatred against any identifiable group. (Criminal Code of Canada). In 1990, the Canadian Supreme Court stated that hate speech can cause “loss of self-esteem, feeling of anger and outrage and strong pressure to renounce cultural differences that mark them as distinct”. The United States, however, stands almost alone in its veneration of free speech at almost any cost.

Free speech is supposed to follow certain socio-religious and political restriction hence a word spoken out triggers retaliation. The repeated saga of free speech has erupted issue of clash of civilization. This head-on collision of both ideologies has depleted the qualities of tolerance and sensibility from the societies. As in September 2012, the reaction of the Muslims on the profane movies explained the emotional state of the Muslims. The claimants of the free speech manipulate the idea of freedom of their vested interests. Even BBC critiques these movies to be an obnoxious production in which certain blasphemous dialogues have been dubbed. Unless the legal actions to prosecute the producer strong and furious demonstrations were observed in the whole world. In a Libyan city Bin Ghazi, furious demonstrators attacked the US embassy killing 3 workers along with the US ambassador. In Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, the UK, and Germany were also the countries where Muslim extremist retaliation was witnessed. This extremist reaction has yielded nothing but has further sharpened the gap between Islam and West aggravating the “Clash of Civilization”, between Islam and the Western societies.

Free speech restricts the growth of values of peace and mutual harmony around the globe. Free speech, when taken in terms of hate speech, is destructive to the world communities at large because it is divisive and promotes intolerance and discrimination. In democratic societies that stand for equality and freedom, it makes no sense to tolerate hate speech that actively works to oppose values. Further hate speech violates the spirit of the human right codes and laws, diminishing their purpose and effect. Taking the example from the history that how free speech stirred the peace of the world by violating the democratic values, Satanic verses; known as ‘Selman Affairs’ were first published in the UK in 1988. Many Muslims accused, the author of blasphemy and in 1989 Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering his assassination. Numerous killings attempted killings and bombings resulted from the Muslim anger over the blasphemous novel. Conclusively free speech that is intemperate in nature and rampant is usage piques certain issues for human dignity and values. In this regard, free speech should be bridled with certain limits.

Western world has essentially developed a lopsided and prejudiced stance on the ‘free speech’, which provokes disaccord when it comes to term with religion Islam. The skirmish it creates is really hostile in nature. Generally west defends the free speech but its advocacy comes to an end when the subject of certain ideologies related to Christianity or holocaust. An ice cream company of UK used the idea of featuring a pregnant nun enjoying the ice cream to satirically convey the message about the quality of their product. The publication of that advertisement ignited and enkindles the chord of many catholic. The magazine was compelled to shrug off the advertisement and to apologize on the eve of Pope’s visit to the United Kingdom. The authorities construed that no such advertisement could be placed hurting the religious sentiments of the population. But it is the case only with Christianity that their beliefs cannot b poked. No other religion enjoys the same protection in the UK according to their laws in Constitution. Such is the case of ‘Free speech’ which reveals a derisive dissimulation of the west with the rest of the communities of the world.
Conclusively free speech should be delivered with predefined fundaments. The challenge of the time is that all religious parties of the world should sit on a table to articulate a comprehensive law against offending the religious sentiments. The law should be drafted in such a manner that it may provide protection to sacred personalities, places and beliefs without curbing the freedom of speech. People should be allowed to differ in their opinion but they shouldn’t be allowed to insult each other’s beliefs. In United Nations, Pakistan had tried many times to articulate a law against blasphemy, but it has received criticism from western democratic and human-right organizations. For instance in 2006, after publication of caricatures and then in 2009 Pakistan tabled the suggestion. In 2012, Pakistan again urged the western countries to find a peaceful solution. A well defined law is the only way to prevent such events in the future. Moreover Muslim Ummah needs to shun the extra sensitivity and have to show some patience.

Muslim world should cultivate tolerance and patience against such activities. As Quran Majeed has showed the Muslims the right way to react: “For sufficient are we unto thee against those who scoff”. This ayah illustrates that God has told the scheme of reaction to Muslims. It is also evident from the Sunnah of Holy Prophet (S.A.W) that he never answered the insulting speeches and acts against him. So ullema should preach the virtues of patience and tolerance to the Muslim masses setting aside their political interests. Muslims should record their protests peacefully and sensibly.

In the nut-shell, it can be said that west has used the freedom of law in favor of its vested interests. Although West protects its own religious beliefs and sentiments yet it hesitates to provide the same right to the Muslims. This act of the western democracies negates their own claim of equality and justice for all human beings. One can find many examples of this injustice to Muslim community in modern democracies of the West. This conflict between Islam and west has damaged the social fabric of the society hence hampering the social and economic growth of the world. But with constructive approach and consistent efforts from both civilizations, they can form a feasible agreement in the best interests of the world. According to the UN secretary Ban Ki Moon “All of this freedom of expression should not be abused by individuals… some people abuse this freedom. This effort to provoke, to humiliate others by using (religion) beliefs cannot be protected in such a way”

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