Freedom of Speech: Puppets or Masters?

 

Freedom of speech is a complex and diverse topic, which might take up a lot of effort to comprehend properly. Freedom of speech is not only expressing yourself and saying whatever comes to mind but being able to speak for yourself and defend yourself when criticized for your words, it is being accountable for your words to the world.

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What you say can evoke two reactions in others, positivity towards you or view you in a negative light. It all depends on how you convey whatever you are saying. Freedom of speech also asks for freedom to listen. If one individual expresses him or herself, it is somewhat the duty of the other to listen and not simply ignore. Freedom teaches patience, respect, understanding, it does not allow us grant us the freedom to simply speak and then not give anything back in return.

79ee327722fda962bdce34f477262c19Freedom of speech has opened doors for many. It has allowed women to speak on women empowerment, feminism whereas it has given men a chance to express themselves as well through campaigns such as “Boys don’t Cry” This campaign was launched by VogueIndia, featuring Madhuri Dixit. It was aired on Youtube first then shared on Facebook and other social media platforms. It gave people an insight into how they should raise their sons to express their feelings and not signal them out for doing so. It also focused on how boys should be taught from an early age to be respectful towards women and not demean them. The idea behind this social media campaign was to empower men and women, not just in India but in the subcontinent as a whole. Moving on, freedom of speech has indeed made the world a modern one, with at least some values, morals and ethics if not something which is possessed by everyone. There is change and it is towards a better world. Freedom of speech has allowed people to use social media to take a step forward towards tolerance of one another and make people understand that everyone is different and it does not make them any less human than one’s self.

Possessing freedom of speech is a responsibility; it is not simply a right. It gives us the power to say whatever we want but with that authority comes consequences. Surely this freedom is costly and does not allow us to abuse, discriminate to belittle anyone. It merely allows us to talk about ourselves but often one takes advantage of this and that is where the concept goes south. That is where the freedom gets snatched away from everyone. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from judgment, criticism, manipulation, or even disagreement leading to arguments.

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Freedom of speech can often be hate speech if abused and many do so without any hesitation. There is no limitation to what one can say and the human mind does not know when to stop sometimes thus offending many around him or her. Mark Twain has commented on freedom of speech saying, “none but the dead have freedom of speech” and he is absolutely right. Every pupil is constraint through speech whether in a manner of speaking or using social media and the only people who do not have any limitations are the dead. Even the most powerful men in the world, be it the richest, presidents, owners of oil, kings of Saudi Arabia all are criticized and judged by the world when they abuse their right.

It is important to understand the concept of a balance between both sides of freedom of speech. As part of an educated lot, one should be knowledgeable of the consequences of what one says in a world full of criticizers and should know when to draw the line. Unfortunately, nothing is cost-free.

 

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Author: Mahgul Agha

"We shall get there someday"

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