Freedom of speech issues are constantly in the media today. There are plenty of incidents where people’s constitutional rights were met with great and unnecessary force. The First Amendment in the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, press, and the right to petition the government. These freedoms are impeded when their freedoms are met with retort. When free speech is not allowed in the public sector, honesty is no longer accepted.
This, in turn, sets the precedent of honesty as being looked down upon and considered rude. Why should someone’s opinions be punished because they don’t go along with what is standard or declared acceptable by others. By infringing on the freedom of someone’s speech, it is the same as punishing them for being who they are. Freedom of speech should not be obstructed or met with retort by the government, but only by private groups, institutions, or organizations that individuals choose to be a part of, such as place of employment, school, club memberships, and the like.
Freedom of speech is not only a reflection of what someone says, but of who someone is. When someone is not permitted to be who they are, they are forced to be someone they aren’t, hindering them from developing as a person. Natural law, principles that are the basis for human conduct, have instilled in every person that it is morally wrong to enslave someone. The word enslave is defined as causing someone to lose their freedom of choice or action. One’s freedom of choice and action are compromised when their civil liberties are interfered with.
The government should not interfere with someone’s right to speech in the public sector as complete freedom of speech is essential in regard to allowing the true freedom of choice and of action. An example of the importance that free speech has in the world today is the dictator Kim Jong-un has over in North Korea. Jong-un has taken away freedom of speech from the citizens of North Korea. In doing so, this has given Jong-un the ability to completely rule over the people of North Korea. ne that speaks against the ruler is taken to a prison camp, which closely resembles the ruling of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
History has made it extremely obvious that discarding others’ freedoms is not acceptable and the act of doing so is inhumane. The private sector is a different case entirely when placing sanctions on free speech. One should be responsible for what they say in the private sector because whatever opinions and ideals expressed by someone that belongs to a particular private group, institution, organization, and the like, is a direct reflection of that group and can potentially promote different values and opinions that differ from that of the organization’s.
An example of this is Muslim terrorists who claim to be fighting for and promoting their religion when in actuality, they are doing the exact opposite. Other Muslims claim that the terrorists do not represent their true religious views after all. This negative representation that the terrorists impose on their self claimed religious affiliation leads to false stereotyping. It is easy to misinterpret the claims of a select group of people that are affiliated with a large group in the private sector, and associate them with the views of the larger group.
Members of an organization, institution, or group, serve under a leader or group of leaders whose power does not come from the members, but rather those who started the organization and who they thought would benefit and lead the organization in the direction they envision. The public sector is exactly that, public. The leaders in the public sector are elected to represent the public, whereas the leaders in the private sector are elected to represent the organization as a whole not necessarily the individual people who belong to the organization.
Speech allows people to express what they feel or how they interpret information that surrounds them. People come from all different walks of life, creating an array of different views, traditions, customs, and norms. Honesty holds little to no value when someone’s honesty is met with punishment. Punishing people for speech, excluding hate speech, conditions honesty to hold less worth. The punishment of speech promotes the idea that fitting in is more important and admirable than being an individual, thus discouraging critical thinking for one’s self.
From a young age, people are and have been conditioned to tell others what they want to hear rather than being honest in order to simply avoid conflict and be accepted by others. Complete freedom of speech encourages honesty instead of being cowardly and not speaking as an individual. Regulating free speech in the private sector not only gives power to the upper echelon in society but gives power to all. The government’s purpose is to bring organization and leadership to the people that elected them.
With complete freedom of speech in the public sector, those elected to lead, lose the ability to take away the freedom that they, the people, deserve and are entitled to. Nelson Mandela once said, “Freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets. ” Freedom is not rooted in doing whatever one pleases. The price for one’s own individual freedom does not come at the price of someone else’s. If there is to be freedom for all, restraint on speech is vital. Freedom of speech is a right that is implemented into the first amendment.
The Bill of Rights were the first laws that were created in the history of the United States; in order to protect the rights of all individual citizens of the United States, not only select groups of people. That being said, these rights should not be taken away from anyone. These rights and freedoms are violated when the speech of one or more individuals is threatening to another individual or group. In order for true freedom of speech, prohibition of hate speech is vital. Freedom of speech is not free if it inhibits someone else.
The United Nations, composed and implemented the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This covenant was created to protect the rights of all humanity and promote freedom, peace, and justice for all. The last line in the preamble states, “Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)” (United Nations).
This quote further elaborates the responsibility that is required of all, for the freedom of humanity in its entirety. The quote above, interpreted as follows, is that in order to obtain the freedom for all, individuals have the duty to protect each others’ same freedoms that they, themselves possess, by not promoting hatred, whether it be discrimination, violence, or more the like.
With the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights being created, the abuse of free speech and other human rights, by instigating hatred and violence, is illegal as cited in part III, article 20, line two, “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law” (United Nations). This line is not contradictory to freedom of speech, but rather it is the promotion of, not only the freedom of speech, but all other freedoms entitled to humans as well.
Freedom of speech being a right for all human life gives great reason to fight for and defend the promotion of true free speech, along with other natural rights. In order to keep speech truly free in the world, it is imperative to educate, especially the youth, what true freedom of speech actually is and stress the importance of it through encouraging acceptance and tolerance of race, religion, political and moral views, and any other differences that others possess.
The education of the youth on the subject matter of accepting others for their differences is of the utmost importance due to how impressionable children are. When children grow up in a negative environment, they are more likely to regurgitate that negativity the rest of their lives and the same can be said with a positive environment. In order to create a better future that yields less racism, discrimination, and hatred, the youth must be properly taught that discrimination is wrong and must not be accepted.
Educating the youth about the consequences of hate speech alone will not alleviate the problems associated with hate speech, such as hate crimes, violent protests, and war. That is why legislation like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights must be in place to punish offenders. In order to do so, there needs to be a distinction between hate speech and the speech that simply offends people because it goes against their views.
To determine whether or not the speech is hatred or simply offensive, it is essential to determine the intent and the reputation of the speaker, along with the setting of the speech. Protecting the freedom of speech of everyone is best done by actually allowing people to speak their minds. Not everything negative someone says is hateful. Honesty should not be replaced with a lie in order to not offend someone. That is why determining the intent of someone’s words is important. There is a clear difference between criticism and hatred.
Criticism is aimed to encourage someone to do better by explaining what someone should do differently in order to improve. Criticism does not stem from motives of hate, though commonly misinterpreted as such, but instead from motivations of care and compassion for the other, which usually comes from honesty. Hatred, on the opposing side, has the purpose to create conflict with and discourage others. Antithetical to criticism, hate speech degrades the person who the speech is aimed towards by purposefully attacking them or if the speech was in inappropriate circumstances.
Setting too plays a pivotal role in the determination of whether speech is coming from motives of hatred or encouragement. For example, the likelihood of negative comments about a certain race, religion, or any other characteristics or views that differs from the person speaking directly after an incident dramatically increases the likelihood of the speech being viewed as hateful. In order for one’s speech to be perceived as criticism, all criteria, whether it be intent, reputation of the speaker and the setting of the speech, should be appropriate and fitting.
There is a time and a place for everything, and even if criticism e intent, society will not necessarily agree, given the timing of the speech. Freedom of speech is not restricted by prohibiting derogatory and hateful speech, but instead it enables freedom for all of humanity. It has the purpose to encourage whereas hateful speech is geared towards discouragement. To help prevent hateful speech, it is pivotal that the youth become educated on the difference between criticism and hateful speech.