||[Feb. 12th, 2009|12:07 pm]
Here's another curly one for you, raised in the lengthy thread from yesterday:|
Freedom of speech.
I mentally butt up against this concept all the time, because Im torn as to my stance on freedom of speech. We dont have constitutionally protected freedom of speech in Aus, but it's still an interesting proposal.
Freedom of opinion? Absolutely. Go for it. Believe whatever you want, and more power to you.
But taking those opinions and putting them out into the public sphere, especially on a large scale? That I have concerns with, and more so when opinion is presented as hard fact.
And here's the thing: If we uphold freedom of speech, we uphold it for everyone, including people actively promoting ideas or concepts that set out to harm or hurt or destroy. We uphold the right of people who want to say that rape victims were asking for it, that POC are born to be criminals, that a woman's body is not her own, or that people with disabilities should be euthanised. It's the fetid, dark, nasty flipside to the shining ideal of freedom of speech for all.
What happens when that person is in a position of power? A minister, politician, or public figure of some kind? Do they have a greater responsibility to have, as James so succinctly put it yesterday, greater 'presence of mind' and 'empathy' in expressing their opinions than Random Citizen? Or do they have the same indivudal rights as someone with less of an impact on the public consciousness?
If we uphold freedom of speech, we also should expect to have our opinions challenged, dismantled, or called into question. The ability to say something doesnt mean it will be respected. A person saying 'No, you're wrong' is exercising free speech, too.
There are, of course, laws in most countries surrounding things like hate speech or incitement to violence, so in a way, there is never a true state of absolute freedom of speech, at least not on this planet.
As mentioned at the start of the post, it's something I struggle with. From a logical standpoint, I know that if I want to demand complete freedom of speech for myself, I should give equal opportunity to everyone to voice their opinions, no matter how wrong I might think they are. But then I come up against people like Danny Nillah who's hateful statements make me want to wrap tape around his mouth and never let him speak again.
What do you think? I dont claim to have any answers, but it's an interesting ethical and moral debate.