I mean, I think about it a lot. From an academic point of view.
The values behind it, and the lack of values of it.
Freedom of speech, or expression...
Is basically, the right to voice your opinion, however, it doesn't mean that you can say anything you like. You cannot and are not supposed to accuse, defame anyone without evidence. Read my previous post about that aspect of the topic. I.e. the meaning behind freedom of speech.
Today's post is to talk about the merits or demerits about it.
And it's also important.
On one hand, the lack of freedom of speech inhibits the truth.
I always talk about the story of Galileo who was prosecuted, cos he said something that the authorities at that time didn't want to hear, even though it was true.
On the other hand, unbridled freedom of speech allows people to say anything. Hateful things, stupid things, etc...
There are people who believe in the "Flat Earth Theory", yes, there are people who really believe that the Earth is flat. And that all evidence is a conspiracy to make people believe that the Earth is round. These people aren't people who think they don't know and that they want to find out more. Rather, they really believe the Earth is flat and any evidence is a lie to them.
There are people who deny the atrocities of what Japan did during WWII.
Did you know that in Japan, school kids aren't taught what the Japanese did during WWII?
Yes, it's entirely whitewashed.
In freedom of speech, by right, you are allowed to say your beliefs. It's up to you to convince your listeners to believe it or not.
And if you reach a far enough audience, someone is bound to believe it.
That's why there's groups of people who deny what happened in WWII or believe that the Earth is flat, and other stuff.
Freedom of speech is a very sharp double edged sword with both sides equally sharp.
If Governments have laws against freedom of speech, then they can just as easily have laws that say that the Earth is flat.
The problem is that, in freedom of speech, it's usually one or the other.
Cos IF the Government starts getting involved in freedom of speech, then they can potentially get involved in ALL forms of freedom of speech.
If they don't get involved, then they cannot get involved in any.
You cannot look at it from a Government which is just, you have to look at it from the view that a Government CAN and WILL abuse it someday in future. Cos that's a big risk. It allows any Government to rewrite history.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
This is being exposed many times when Trump speaks. When he denys evidence and the real truth.
And there are people who believe him.
Same as there are people who think that the Earth is flat.
The problem with freedom of speech, is that it is a very dangerous tool in the wrong hands.
And people need to have responsibility when wielding it.
BUT... humans have been known to abuse that responsibility.
Many people do not think, or have critical thinking skills. They read and forward rubbish all around the internet. Pseudo science, pseudo medicine, lies, conspiracy theories, etc.
Some things are harmless, some things are not.
For example, when Trump lies, it's not harmless. It influences people, it has the potential to instigate hate. Division of people. Such things can cause more crime or war.
And yet, without freedom of speech, it's equally dangerous. You cannot question or challenge a Government. They can basically shut down all dissent. Their power is absolute.
Freedom of speech can only be effective in a country, or population where the people are smart, educated, naturally curious, question things, seek evidence, exhibit critical thinking, etc...
This is highly unlikely in almost any country.
Mathematically, it's almost impossible.
Think about it. Look at a distribution curve.
Look at the amount of fake new, pseudo science, pseudo medicine articles on the internet, and how many people forward and propagate these articles.
So if you look at the curve. Where do you think the average person would lie in terms of critical thinking?
Then if that is average, remember that there are people who have less critical thinking than this average person.
I would place most of my family members within the middle 68%. Although educated, they are unable to discern fake posts, unsubstantiated conclusions, etc.
When they read a statement... Example a politician says "I do not recall saying XYZ..."
They conclude that the politician didn't say it.
Whereas the politician is claiming that he doesn't remember saying it. He doesn't commit whether he said it or not. And such a response should be taken with much suspicion.
And I think many people are like that. So I believe that critical thinking IS not common.
Mathematically we should be looking at only 30-40% of the population at best.
Therefore, if we don't have a general population which is able to think independently, smart, question, double confirm things, then how can we allow freedom of speech? When it is so easily abused?
So for me, I believe that speech should be somewhat controlled. BUT YET... it's a slippery slope.
I believe that hate speech should be illegal and shouldn't be allowed.
The Earth cannot be denied as spherical.
I believe that certain historical facts should be illegal to deny. Cos we should learn from the past so that it doesn't happen again, such as the atrocities that happened in WWII.
But here's where it gets troublesome... who's to say what is real history?
For everything we know, we need to trust some form of authority. We trust that "some scientist" did some experiments, we trust that someone flew into space and saw that the Earth is round. How many of us did the experiments or flew into space?
For almost all information, we need to trust someone.
How do we know about history? Unless we have lived through it ourselves? We have to trust someone is telling the "truth". Or that enough people tell the same story so it becomes the "truth".
And so the thing is, freedom of speech needs to go hand in hand with critical thinking and having an educated and discerning population.
Without it, freedom of speech is and will easily be abused and the general population could easily be manipulated.
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