When Freedom of Speech is Forfeit: A Road to Equality and Tolerance

29 Nov

The view of many Westerners is that it is a given right that they be permitted to say what they like about anything and anyone; and should be permitted to do so without hindrance or interference from the state. From religion, to culture, politics and humanity. Quite clearly, this is largely due to the increasing prevalence of devices such as secularist ideology, societal fragmentation, the rise of social media, and greater social and cultural freedoms.

These individuals, more often than not, internet trolls and libertarian types, who espouse such views to attack anyone and anything- with their growing sense of social disobedience and dissociative individuality- are quite happy to post cruel images and comments of Jews, Muslims, women and others online- without thought or consideration for the morality of what has been posted or offence or intrusion caused. They are more than content to incite, promote and instil indifference, hate and intolerance in the rest of us. They say it is their right to cause such offence- to stir up tensions; create discord; and ferment cultural, religious and ethnic divisions- because secular society and political freedom affords them this right. I say otherwise.

I, myself, occasionally swear; because I can and that is my right. But there is a difference and swearing to express outrage or emphasize a point is a world away from deliberately going out of one’s way to cause offence and believing it is right. We are all free to challenge or criticise… and even mock those with whom we disagree; or swear at those who insult or offend us. That is a right we all deserve; that should not be challenged or controlled by the state, or its institutions. Of this, there is no doubt.

The issue is, when the right to freedom of speech crosses an important line of social conduct. What is crossing a line? Crossing a line is the deliberate vilification, harassment, intimidation, incitement or humiliation of another, because they can and not because it is right or called for. But some of these individuals think it is perfectly acceptable to libel someone or speak in a derogatory fashion; that may be either racist, sexist or homophobic. These individuals think it is totally acceptable to denigrate and ridicule anything or anyone… because of their belief in freedom of speech. They believe it is perfectly acceptable to perpetuate social, cultural, religious and ethnic stereotypes that entrench our divisions and create and maintain difference and discord.

What they are blind to see or refuse to accept, is that their firm belief in freedom of speech, is often demonstrably detrimental to the society as a whole and demonstrates a complete abandonment of moral compass, mutual respect and coexistence and our increasing intolerance of one another. This is a retrograde step for any progressive, inclusive and tolerant society.

Note to these trolls and libertarians: Your freedom of speech is forfeit when you entrench or create division; attack anyone without justification; smear people; and prevent humanity reaching a peaceful and mutually acceptable point of progression where we, humans, can exist without hate or inequality. This benefits us all, so to hell with your freedom of speech. There is no such thing without respect and consideration to the rest of us. Your ‘right’ harms us all and holds us all back in seeking global, peaceful coexistence.

Author: Jason Schumann.

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