Freedom of speech

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.
– Voltaire

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

But do we really have freedom of speech? The offence principle limits forms of expression that can be seen as offensive. So essentially we are told we can say whatever we want, but not certain things.  Freedom is being without limits but ‘freedom of speech’ isn’t entirely a freedom. We are limited and restricted in holding some opinions and expressing them. We may be able to express our views to an extent, thus we do not hold the freedom of speech as is claimed.

Although the offence principle is somewhat beneficial in preventing huge outbursts of hatred, I feel that limiting offensive opinions should come from a moral perspective. Instead of being stripped from a freedom that we should have, we need to change people’s views. Freedom of speech ignores the problems at the very core of society. It doesn’t change how people regard other genders, races or religions. It simply disregards these issues and hopes that not hearing them means they are gone. Not only does freedom of speech oppress us and reveal that we are not free individuals, but it also stirs the pot of tension and hatred.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. Ignoring the problems won’t solve them, we have to address them. We are being force fed dogmas just to silence our stands. They tell us we are free, yet we are merely slaves. We are slaves in a time where the whip has been replaced by words and it is not our bodies that our sold, but our minds. I believe in freedom of speech and expression without limits. I believe in truly being free. I believe in peace and coexistence and changing the distorted views that some may have.

Soon the time will come when we will have real freedom of speech. How soon this will be depends on how ready you are to lose everything you have for what you believe in.


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