- Thesis:Free speech should not have any limitations to allow the society to progress at its maximum potential.
- Benefits of unbridled freedom of expression
- Emergence of new ideas
- Establishment of justice
- Critics of Freedom of speech
- Free speech gives rise to chaos or peace?
- Expressing unorthodox views about social customs – Destructive or beneficial?
“Every human has a right to utter what he feels as true and every other man has the right to knock him down for this”
Issue of freedom of speech invites mixed responses from different sections of society. Some deem it as unhealthy and detrimental to the harmony of the nation while there are others who think it prerequisite for development of any nation. Those who view it as deleterious to the society contend that birdied free speech may hurt sentiments of masses, thus causing social instability, or the unfettered flow of ideas may lead to criticism of cherished cultures and social traditions. while these views are partly correct but they fail to understand the essence of free speech which is free to allow unorthodox views of flourish. As the traditional views are accepted by everyone and they hardly need protection. Thus, free speech should not have limitations to allow the society to progress at its maximum potentials.
Benefits of unbridled freedom of expression
Emergence of new ideas
One of the major benefits of freedom of expression is that it provides environment for intermingling divergent ideas. As in a free society,every individual has the right to say what he deems as correct. This contributes to intertwining notions which leads to emergence of new ideas and innovations. To understanding this point take the example of Italian Scientist Galileo,although he proposed an idea that was totally different from orthodox view that was Copernican theory. Yet Galileo’s unorthodoxy opened the gate of modern era science and gradually lead to the development of the world.
Establishment of justice
Another major benefit of free speech is that helps in establishment of just society where honesty and uprightness prevail. As people are free to criticize and oppose, this often leads to prevalence of truth in society. Propaganda and false nations have no place in liberal society. There are many examples in annals of history where justice is established because of power of liberty to speak. For instance, Antony used his oratory skills to unveil the murderous plot by Brutus against Caesar. Thus, freedom to speak allowed to attainment of veracity in the society.
Critics of Freedom of Speech
There are many critics who argue that free speech should have limitations. Some of these arguments are discussed below for understanding of importance of freedom of expression.
Free speech gives rise to chaos or peace?
First, those who advocate bridled freedom of speech asserts that through free speaking power can hurt feeling of others. For example, one might criticize any other’s political affiliation or religious opinions. This, so the argument goes, leads to the chaos and instability in a society. However, view fails to comprehend benefits of criticism. If a person criticizes any opponents views, he may be producing an enlightened picture of the issues in hand. This may ultimately lead to improvement and progress of the society. For example, religious discussions can bring about uniformity in religious beliefs and controversial issues may be resolved if free speech on it is allowed. This would result in establishment of peace and harmony in a society.
Expressing unorthodox views about social customs – Destructive or beneficial?
Second major argument of those who aspire limitations on free speech is that expression of opinions without any restriction gives one of the powers to lament cherished social customs and traditions however, this argument can also be viewed from another angle that is only by criticizing the social norms one can highlight pros and cons of these traditions.
As John Stuart Mill, a renowned free society activist, argues that even a false statement may be deemed to make a valuable contribution to public debate, since it brings about “the clear perception livelier impression of the truth, produced by its collisions with error” there are many events inhuman history which exemplify the power of eloquence in eradicating social evils from society. For instance, slavery was considered custom in 16thand 17th century and it was due to propagation of antislavery ideas by human rights organisation that the menace was eradicated in the world.
Likewise, Malala Yousufzai highlights patriarchal culture of tribal society through her ability to speak. Thus, free speech allows extermination of cruel social traditions from a society.
Thus, free speech can play significant role in development of humanity. The need of the hour is to allow prejudices to be openly expressed,then to either identify and reject them or to accept them. Any impediments to liberty of speech may result in evolution of oppression and tyranny in a society.
It is opportune to conclude this discussion in the words of George Orwell who once said“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”