The Paradox of Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is a wonderful liberty and health inducing function of society if, and only if, the citizens exercise their right to freedom of thought beforehand – exploring their ideas to see if they come from a place of love, good intention and virtue – or emotional indifference, entitlement and fear.”

The paradox of free speech and freedom of expression – at what level can one’s freedom of speech will involve limiting the freedom of speech of another person’s? Its really something to think about. The irony and the paradox of freedom of speech is this – in theory, every single citizen, regardless of who they are or where they come from, are entitled to their opinions and should be free to say whatever they please and the government should not try any means necessary to censor that person.. … except that someone else can who is not a part of the government can, or the government can censor that person through indirect means, or that person can be limited in their freedom of speech because of other reasons. Hate speech is one of them or speech that is deemed as offensive or crude.

Sure, saying homophobic slurs or racist slurs are deemed as hate speech, but what if this angrily-provoked language is done to antagonize a particular group of people who rightfully deserve it (like for example, a dictator or an social elite that have all the power but leave little of that power to the public)? Can that turn into censorship as well? Or what if someone has an opinion or makes a statement that is unpopular or controversial or unorthodox? For example, if a person says that he/she does not like a section of people following a particular religion because they possess an internalized paranoia about a religion that they do not know. That person can easily be deemed as being intolerant.

What about having unpopular opinions but you do not want to say anything about of the fear of being judged because of stigma or taboo like sexual fantasies or sexual orientations or having an opinion that is very unpopular like thinking that Communism is justified or thinking that the Earth is flat, even though scientific evidence will show otherwise? Or what about the political correctness movement that has been happening the past few years that replaces certain words with other words which at the same time limits the amount of speech that people are allowed to say or not say or else their words will have a negative effect on a certain demographic? (even though it is already well-known that whatever word or phrase you say, those words will shape our thoughts and may even reinforce already internalized schemas about certain categorized human groups like the mentally challenged as “idiots” will further reinforce the internalized image of an idiot).

What if someone makes a statement that someone else would find as unsettling or offensive? What gives the other person the right to censor the person who made their joke and limit his/her freedom of speech because that person did What if someone makes a statement that someone else would find as unsettling or offensive? What gives the other person the right to censor the person who made their joke and limit his/her freedom of speech because that person did not like it? Whether you liked the joke or not, that person given charges for hate speech and many people feel that his joke can taken out of context and his freedom of speech was taken from him just because some people did not like it.

What about people who have a lot of influence or in a very high position where their influence will influence the behaviors of others? Businessmen, lawyers, politicians, marketers and so on. If they say something that will eventually upset a lot of people, whether they are being genuine or not, they could be risking having their own image damaged such as when EA chief creative officer Patrick Söderlund said about the upcoming game Battlefield V having women in game despite the historical context, he said “either accept it or don’t buy the game” and a few months, it was reported that the number of pre-orders of BFV was low, possibly as a response to Söderlund’s comment (who now left EA). I think we all know that whatever you say, you are not going to please everyone but I sometimes feel that people are in an advantage or a disadvantage – if a person has a lot of influence and power, their freedom of speech will surely have a positive influence on others, regardless of what say or should be very picky on what they say or else their may be a backlash; or for those people who are in a severe disadvantage for having opinions or statements that are unpopular statement are of sound mind or not.

Despite the shortcomings, free speech is an error-correcting mechanism whose function is to prevent the entire structure from collapsing; the ability to constantly criticize ideas serves as a firewall to contain bad ideas and prevent them from spreading uncontrollably. It also serves as a guide to navigate grey areas where the right path is often hard to see. Having said that, everything has a cost and benefit, and free speech is no exception to this. However, I think that this is a commodity that is far too valuable to be jettisoned, such that the price we pay for not having massively outweighs the downsides of having it.

It should be also realized that freedom of speech is deemed to be a governor of other freedoms, and the erosion of it is usually a reliable signifier that some semblance of totalitarianism is beginning to take root. Freedom of speech is the natural extension of freedom of thought, and thus should be the most vigorously defended of all inalienable rights. If your right to free is being violated, it’s your duty as a citizen of a free country to make that known, and if all else fails, it’s a important enough matter to warrant violence if no other means will suffice. Free speech, especially free political speech, speech is the beacon of all other freedoms. It must be protected Is the costs, and at least here in America, our first constitutional government was created with the idea in mind that their constituents should openly rebel should their rights begin to erode. The last time that happened, it ended up being much more complicated than that. You know it as the American Civil War.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

Noam Chomsky

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