In the century of democracy, globalization and multiculturalism, people have much wider opportunities that it was a hundred years ago. Freedom, as a right and as a value, has drastically changed the view of society, its pains and needs. As almost a constitution of any country states, “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”, as well as regulative laws provide protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech and thoughts. For example, the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law. . . abridging the freedom of speech. . .” (Hunsaker 25-35).
Freedom is the most fundamental duty of every person in the world. Freedom of views and speech is the most important type of interaction as without sharing there would be no history and science at all. Liberty of words shows the power especially in politics or government. Most importantly, everyone has right to think and act without causing harm or authority of any other individual.
The freedom of speech can be defined as the right of a person to express thoughts, ideas, and personal opinions through a desired media without any restrictions, just so long that these actions do not infringe on the rights of another person or national security. Free expression has been entrenched in our hearts as an unwritten law since time immemorial, even before formal recognition by any authority (Ringen 36-39).
However, free expression has also a negative effect on society. Of course the freedom of expression, like every freedom, is linked with responsibility: whoever infringes on the human rights of others with his or her freedom of expression must be held accountable. For example, in 2005 a Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published a group of cartoons containing satirical images of the Prophet Mahommed. As Islamic communities around the world immediately found out about the issue with the cartoons and it caused many passionate expressions of distress and anger, largely on two grounds: because Muslim belief does not accept pictorial representations of the Prophet and because the fact that the publication associated Muslims with terrorism. Later on, in 2015, a French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo has been the target for terrorist attack due to the numerous satirical and atheistic controversial Muhammad cartoon publications. As the result, 12 people died and many were injured (Sturges 181-188).
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Ability to think and act accordingly defines humans between other live creatures on the Earth. Nowadays, the level of democracy and wide freedom of speech over the world provides endless opportunities for people to share the knowledge, thoughts and ideas. In fact, mass media is the best instrument for the society to exercise its right to freedom of expression. The idea of a free, independent, plural, and diversified media has become the ideal to be achieved in order to fully ensure the right to seek, receive and impart information.
However, mass media without any regulation can significantly hurt the society. Therefore, media regulation started its development in order to guarantee, promote and protect the right of free expression. In fact, the main mission for regulating mass media and internet should be to protect and deepen the freedom of speech.
However, the freedom of expression can conflict with other basic and human rights. For example, under certain circumstances, the insult or disparagement of a person constitutes a prohibited violation of human dignity. That is why it is important to regulate defamation. Defamation is the publishing of a statement regarding a person’s reputation to the effect that the statement lowers the person in the estimation of right thinking members of the society. The essence of defamation law is actually to control expressions which injure people’s reputation without any justification (Hunsaker 25-35).
To sum up, freedom of speech has many exceptions and is not defined just as it is stated. We have yet to find the perfect medium between freedom and regulation of speech that would be suitable for everyone.
Hunsaker, David M. “Freedom And Responsibility In First Amendment Theory: Defamation Law And Media Credibility”. Quarterly Journal of Speech 65.1 (1979): 25-35. Web.
Ringen, Stein. “Liberty, Freedom And Real Freedom”. Soc 42.3 (2005): 36-39. Web.
Sturges, P. “Limits To Freedom Of Expression? Considerations Arising From The Danish Cartoons Affair”. IFLA Journal 32.3 (2006): 181-188. Web.
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