The literal meaning of freedom of speech is the right to express our views and opinions without any fear, censorship, restraints. It has been defined as the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint by Dictioanry.com. Meriam Webster definition state freedom of speech as the legal right to express one’s opinions freely.
The addition of legal word reveals that it can be different country to country. In some countries, it is legal to express your opinion while in the majority it is not. If you have some sweet words on the state affairs they will warmly welcome it and will share a reference as well. If the words are challenging the state policies, then you are in trouble.
Several journalists, columnists, and human rights defenders have lost their lives while many are still missing. This all happened and is happening both in developing and developed countries – which articulates that there is still a lot of work to do done on making the freedom of speech a reality.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has granted freedom of speech to every individual– no matter in which part of the world someone is living.
UDHR’s article 19 states “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”.
Freedom of speech is considered as the foundation of human rights and help in making societies more progressive and develop. We can’t think of a democratic society without freedom of expression because democracy is based on freedom of speech and expression. Unfortunately, the lack of freedom of expression has badly affected democracy in many countries.
Luckily, with the access of social media, freedom of expression has been possible up to some extent, but, unfortunately, only 33 percent (approximately) of the world’s population has access to social media while the remaining are deprived. The dilemma is that in many countries social media is properly monitored and contents are censored.
The following points – if considered will help in effective of speech and our freedom will not hurt others.
- Freedom of speech shouldn’t limit frontier and should focus on humanity.
- Make your sure that the content doesn’t create violence or intends to create violence.
- Contents should be focused on enhancing knowledge of readers/viewers/listeners.
- Contents should be backed by facts and facts should not be hidden.
- Each person opinions will be different – so tolerance for diversity should be inculcated.
- Contents shouldn’t hurt other someone faith and should show respect for all religions.
- If someone doesn’t want, then privacy and secrecy should be ensured.
- Contents are yours and you should be responsible for it. To get rid of any consequence, contents should be backed by research, and strong arguments and legally rich.
Freedom of expression enhances our knowledge, gives us an opportunity to have a say and input on whatever issue we are interested. Most importantly, freedom of expression makes peaceful changes possible in a society.
There is a famous quote in Pashtu, says, you have freedom until your hand reaches my nose. It means that our opinion shouldn’t hurt others. Diversity is natural and surely there will be a difference in thoughts, therefore, each content should be supported by strong arguments and should properly be explained because the majority of the conflicts are based on communication gap or miss communication.