Freedom of Speech

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History 12 – The Absolute Right of Free Speech

“I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” * Voltaire (18th Century French Philosopher)

A fundamental aspect of humanity is the capability of complex communication and logic, something which has deemed us far superior to creatures much stronger and faster than our relatively feeble bodies. However, mankind often falls prey to bigotry, believing in a single opinion and refusing to listen to any other, a flaw which has brought forth much devastation to society. The implementation of democracy allowed the gradual evolution of the freedom of expression, ensuring the right for people to speak their thoughts without fear of oppression or punishment. Yet with every right, there comes a responsibility; the freedom of speech is not absolute and shouldn’t be, for every word has power behind it and should be treated with such value. Allowing absolute freedom of speech would result in chaos, prohibiting punishment for threats, disturbances or false information. Freedom of expression should be defined as a basic human right, yet not an absolute one. The earliest example of the oppression of opinion occurred in the first democracy of the world, Athens. The renowned philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death by the democratic government of Athens, for his views that defied the Athenian gods and supposedly corrupted the youth. The Athenians had excessive pride, known to them as hubris, and were not ready to have their core principles challenged with such force. Had they been more open minded and accepting of the clear logic of Socrates, the Golden Age of Athens may have survived for much longer. This is not simply a problem of the past; Malala Yausafzai, a young Pakistani girl, was attacked by the Taliban for writing on her right to an education and giving her views on the oppressive Taliban government. She was shot in the head for expressing her opinion,...
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