The recent blasphemy incidents and religious riots has again sparked a hot debate over an old but a vital issue ‘Freedom of speech‘. Freedom of speech is a universal right that belongs to everyone, not just to those with whom you agree. That means that even if someone says something that I completely disagree with, I still support his/her right to express his/her views.
Over the last decade we all now the impact increasing popularity of social media websites has made on ones freedom of speech. Simply with a click we can post a status criticizing whatever politician we want to, questioning whatever norm we want to, ridiculing celebrities and utilizing the ‘freedom’ in their own ways. But the question here is how many people actually think the impact their one casual ‘share’ will have on the individual they are targeting? Apart from the fascinating aspect of social media what we are totally missing is how it is making the phrase “humor at the expense of others” more bitter and brutal. One of the victims of this cruel internet sensation was a girl from Lahore who couldn’t resist her emotional excitement for being around the Murree’s snow falling beauty, enough to remain composed before a TV reporter. While one girl just said ‘aspire to inspire’ the other couldn’t know how to express excitement appropriately and just uttered “We are proud of you” only to become a meme content for the social media humorists.
What many people don’t understand is that being free to voice out your opinion on issues come with responsibilities. A responsibility of choosing your words carefully and making sure nobody gets hurt in the process. Being free is being governed by your mind. Trusting yourself to make the right choices and not let your emotions get involved, because as soon as you start thinking with your body and not your mind only, trouble starts to unfold. The problem with today’s youth is simple. We leap before we look, which shouldn’t be so. We must use the chance we have of been heard, wisely.
Here’s an interesting illustration of hate speech by Mackay:
Just as equality and justice belong to everyone, so too does freedom of speech. But the problem arises because the boundaries between freedom of speech and hateful speech are not always very clearly marked. That’s the area where confusion and contradictions live.