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freedom of speech

freedom of Speech is the concept that a human being has the right to voice their opinions without the fear of punishment or censorship. they are allowed to express their views freely and this freedom should be respected by all other members of society. however, this freedom of speech does apply to ideals and views that the majority of a civilised society would find offensive. for example, expressing hatred about homosexuals or people of other races is 'freedom of speech'. i have seen people on the internet claiming that 'benjamin franklin gave me the right to hate the gays'. no. benjamin franklin did not outright say 'be homophobic, it's ok'. the constitution ( i believe) simply sets out the idea that people can think what they want and no one should prevent them from doing so.

in my opinion, everybody has to respect everybody else's right to an opinion, regardless of how controversial or offensive that opinion may be. however, if you are not homophobic, then you do not have to respect a homophobic point of view. you do not have to like or respect the person that this view is coming from. if you are homosexual, then you are unlikely to have a large amount of respect for people that insult your sexuality. this does not mean you are disrespecting that individual's right to free speech but you are refusing to stand by their views. i understand that there are people in the world who are racist and i accept that is their right. they have the right to think what they want. but their opinion is offensive and teaches that some people are worth less than others, so there is nothing anybody could do that would teach me to respect their opinion. respecting the right to an opinion and respecting an opinion in itself is very different.

the right to free speech does come with a responsibility not to be deliberately offensive or harmful. if we all went round yelling things that are degrading to other people a society would simply not be able to function properly. in some parts of the world, people's right to free speech is under threat. individuals are constantly being arrested because of their religion, their sexuality, their beliefs and whatever they hold dear. charities like amnesty, which i personally support, work tirelessly to release these people, known as prisoners of conscience. governments do have the right and responsibility to prevent hate speech, which some may view as freedom of speech, but that is to protect people. some people certainly do abuse their right to free speech!

i believe that the press should have a right to free speech too. it is of vital importance that journalists all over the world have the right to deliver important information without the threat of punishment or censorship. the world has a right to understand what is going on. there are hundreds of journalists who are currently being imprisoned for their job which is ridiculous. as someone who loves reading the news and learning about current affairs, it is almost heartbreaking that people are being punished for something i respect so greatly.

if you are interested in freedom of speech head over to amnesty's website to learn some more! there are constant updates on the cases of people who have been arrested for exercising their right to free speech. hopefully one day we can all live in a world where we can speak our mind without repercussions, although this does come with responsibility. we need to meet a middle ground where we all learn to be responsible with what we say without offending individuals without feeling that our liberties are at stake.

thank you for reading,

sophie x

This post first appeared on Sophie's Thoughts, please read the originial post: here

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freedom of speech


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