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PLSC352-Importance Of Free Speech In The Society

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Question:

Why is free speech important in a society? Can too much free speech have negative consequences? Are there times when we might want to restrict speech? 

 

Answer:

The right to express oneself is regarded as a fundamental human right and is a broader umbrella that covers all the essential human rights available in a society (Barbour & Wright, 2018). The freedom of speech is one such right that falls in the category and it is essential as it allows people to voice their concerns, opinions and ideas for a better society. It is one of the most important fundamental rights as it allows the society to change for the good and progress rapidly.

The freedom of speech allows the people to raise their voice and initiate a change in the society, it is to be noted that no popular human rights that are prevalent today would be possible without the idea of free speech.  Freedom of speech is a something that includes the ability to listen to someone who is speaking, and respecting the thoughts that are voiced by the person. A person should be respectful to both positive and negative thoughts that may arise on any given topic. The backbone of a free society is the openness to the exchange of ideas in the society. The notion of free speech allows individuals and groups to protect their own morals, values, ethics and philosophies and enables them to participate in discussions on various topics. The tyranny of the government can be avoided with the free speech as it enables an open communication between the government and the citizens (Barbour & Wright, 2018).

The idea of free speech can even have negative aspects to it if someone uses it in a wrong intention and defaming manner. The ideas that are shared by free speech can be good and bad but the reactions that can be evoked to the bad ideas may have significant action in the society and lead to chaos. The political rhetoric has a theory which is known as slippery slope, it basically states that the excess of free speech can eventually let the people down and impact negatively (Barbour & Wright, 2018). This is applicable in practice also as people tend to overuse the freedom and lose track of what they say and in become aggressive. People may harm the sentiments of other groups and their ideas and such action can lead to massive unrest in the entire society. The freedom of speech that hurts others is referred to as the hate speech, and such hate speeches are the biggest concern as people may take resort to such practices just because they are fundamentally empowered with a right that ensure them the freedom to voice their words. There can be situations when the government for the greater good of the nation can cut off the liberties of the citizen and this is essential in order to maintain peace in the country (Barbour & Wright, 2018). Sedition from the citizens on various platforms including the internet is an example of the instance when freedom of speech may inversely affect the country and the government. 

 


At times, it may be necessary to limit the freedom of speech in the country. The freedom of speech evokes emotions which are in contradiction to the ideals that enable a state to be peaceful and content. The freedom of speech should be regulated at times when the situation is sensitive and people are prone to conflict in an area. The idea of free speech may empower people at such times to flow in the sentiments, regard things emotionally, and hence speak distaste of some group. Such practice may eventually harm the entire society as it can disrupt the peace. In situations of emergency such as wars, riots, terrorism or political flares, it is essential that the people do not practice any communication that leads to the transmission of wrong information from one part to the other; such miscommunication can lead to serious issues and unrest in the region. The aggravation to small incidents can take place with such hate speeches and hence governmental censorship should be practiced at times when it is unsuitable for the nation (Barbour & Wright, 2018). The hurting of minority sentiments is another aspect that needs to be kept in mind while practicing free speech because it will be unethical to hurt them and such intentional practice should strictly be dealt with removal of the right to free speech and more strict actions from the authority.  

The freedom of expression is a human right which is essential but it does need regulation. Therefore, any misuse of the right should be kept in check because a right can only be successfully enjoyed when every person reaps benefit and it leads to no chaos in the peaceful society. This particular right also protects the people from any kind of governmental propaganda. Therefore, it is a powerful weapon to the citizens in a state of democracy and allows them to speak without any fear. 

 

Reference

Barbour, C., & Wright, G. C. (2018). Keeping the republic: Power and citizenship in American politics. SAGE Publishing

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