For argument’s sake, I’ll deconstruct free speech into three categories:
- Factual Statement.
As a matter of fact, the constitutions of some democratic communities/societies depend upon this distinction. A society slurry or unsure of the distinction of these 3 variants of free speech would believe everything as an opinion.
A renowned philosopher Harry G Frankfurt describes bullshit as means of communication which focus on a purpose and apathetic to fact or truth. A society apathetic to the distinction between facts, opinions and insults will promote bullshit nevertheless they are fun to watch and listen to.
In times of bullshit, you’re left with two choices, either shield yourself from it or use it to your advantage. To defend yourself from it, you have to accumulate a lot of knowledge and to use it to your advantage you may need to lower your moral standards.
It’s the dose that makes a thing poisonous. Freedom as an end in itself is not the sum of all aspects of freedom, some aspects need balancing so as to not come in contradiction with each other. For instance the freedom of speech against protection of privacy, both parts of the Human Rights but in contradiction.
When a person who is bigger, stronger and meaner than you, threatens to beat you, you have 3 choices: run, call the reinforcement agencies or level the sport by pulling out a weapon. When a person who is smarter, louder and meaner than you thoroughly insults you, what are your choices?
The concept of insults as a form of violent behaviour is different among different societies. In the Eastern societies “ Saving face” is considered far more significant than in the Western populations. In cultures of honour, (e.g. middle east, South Asia but also US south) insults belittle a person’s reputation in public while he tries to regain his status by using aggressive behaviour. I, personally, do not think of these value systems as less progressive – but a certain “let it go” attitude may not be suited to every society.
A lot of western systems do not grant the victim a right to counter physical violence, right need not yield to wrongdoing, an essential perception wired into countless legal systems. So, what options do you think the victim has? Run??
In general, I think:
- Freedom of speech can originate loss of faith in authority and result in widespread mutiny and outright civil war.
- It promotes a foolish sense of worth for bad ideas. Some ideas are so repulsive like communism, yodelling, fascism and Nazism, that it’s best to keep these from people’s audience.
- It stirs up disagreements and scepticism among people.
- The ordinary person, who is by and large very limited and has only his own interests in mind, isn’t up for handling such a mighty tool or responsibility. It’s like giving real guns to 6-year-olds to carry to school.