Free Speech

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No one can deny that freedom of speech is one of the most basic rights in democracies both in the United States and abroad. Unlimited freedom of speech however, is an unrealistic expectation for many reasons. The most pressing one being a violent reaction to hate speech. We must be able to seek a balance between freedom of expression and censorship of religious and racial hatred. Hate speech is a type of speech that incites other people to hate a certain group in society defined by common characteristics usually either race, gender, religion. It usually also incites to commit violence and discrimination based on hatred. This is the type of speech that I think has the most basis for restriction because of it’s tendency to incite violence because of its outrageous and usually untrue claims about a group of people as a whole.

By allowing unlimited free speech we run the risk of creating harm for individuals as was the case in the Keane piece we read for today. Keane details an event in 2006 where a Danish newspaper published blatantly offensive cartoons depicting the muslim prophet Muhammed with a bomb shown as a turban. A year later a far leaning liberal party in Denmark ran on the platform of another cartoon of Muhammed on the body of a dog with the slogan “Freedom of Speech is Danish, censorship is not.” The cartoon was not necessary other than to incite some sort of emotional reaction that could very well lead to a violent retaliation which it did in 2008.

An attack on the Danish embassy in Pakistan was strongly associated with the cartoon crises. The attack killed six people. The party platform’s cartoon narrowly escaped Denmark’s laws on restricting free speech. Denmark’s “racism clause protects persons, or groups of persons, against defamation, whereas the blasphemy clause protects those religious sensibilities of believers that are connected to dogmas or rituals deemed central to their religion, but not religious sensibilities in general.” I would...
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