Is ‘free speech’ actually costing us?
When I talk about cost, I’m not talking about a dollar value, I’m talking about the disintegration of core values that we as society have developed over the years. Core values like respect, tolerance and common courtesy.
I am a huge believer and advocate for free speech but I think the world in general has lost its way with regards to how free speech should be used; we have lost our way in understanding how powerful free speech is and we have lost our way in respecting what damage it can and has done when used in the wrong way.
Sounds confusing – well let me explain.
I was brought up on old school values, in particular I was taught that ‘if you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything at all’. And yet, I see that today, there seems to be so many people voicing their anger, preaching hate, and airing their dislikes in public forums like Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, whilst using the premise of free speech.
But this so called free speech often crosses many lines; defaming a persons reputation, writing false information about a person, making racist remarks and generally stirring up hate against people who are disliked, is not what the drivers of free speech had in mind.
Today, there is an ugly increase in racism – people using public forums to degrade others of different race and colour. There is an ugly increase in religious hate – people using public forums to degrade others who believe in varying religions or don’t believe in a religion at all, and there is an ugly increase in general animosity towards any person who has a differing view from oneself.
And to justify its place, we are all using the term ‘free speech’ and saying “its my right to say and think what I like”. Well yes it is your right to say and think what you like, but perhaps we should all take a breath, we should all study history and remember what sorrow and misery the intolerance of other views, beliefs and race has caused the world.
Im certainly not trying to preach John Lennon’s idea that we all love each other, but we must understand that free speech is about expressing your idea whilst having tolerance of the views and ideas of others, even if they are greatly different from your own.
So lets all have a think about what free speech is costing us, take some time to think about what our free speech may mean to others and bring back some respect and tolerance to the world.