In the writings of John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”, he contends that: “Freedom of speech is at the heart of democracy. Expressions of ideas cannot be prohibited simply because people find them offensive or disagreeable.” The freedom of speech is a liberty right which allows us to express our personal opinions without interference from the government or other individuals. In a like manner, freedom of speech is regarded as a highly valued right that is a necessary condition for human freedom as well as a prerequisite of personal development and human flourishing.
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is sometimes referred to as ‘the liberty of speech’, follows the right of adults to run their own lives, to pursue their own conception of the good life in their own way; certainly, these are fundamental rights. In fact, Article 19, found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Human dignity embraces values, such as equality, that influences a growing tendency to evaluate rights, including freedom of expression. However, the relationship between freedom of speech and dignity is vague, murky as human dignity is sometimes used as a justification for protecting and restricting speech.
For instance, radical feminists argue that pornography restricts women’s freedom of speech which cannot be defended on the grounds of freedom of speech; yet, pornography is free speech that is applied to the sexual realm. Catharine Mackinnon focuses on women’s dignity in regard to the harms to women rather that autonomy and individual rights. In her article, ‘Pornography, Civil Rights, and Speech’, Mackinnon argues that pornography is immoral because it poses a direct threat to women’s equality and directly harms... [continues]
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