In the western countries where the right of the individual negate the rights of the society, the free speech concept is exemplified by the saying ‘I disagree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.’ Of course this sounds very noble.
Usually, at the time this statement was made, the difference was about minor differences. It means that no real harm was done simply because one differed from the other. After all, we can’t agree on everything.
However, it must be remembered that there are individuals who are subverting the society. By hiding behind the free speech, immunity, they provoke the society through inflammatory speeches, cartoons or even tweets.
Obviously, for these people, freedom is not the objective. What they really wanted is, to destabilize the society.
It is true the majority of people would reject their views. But, human nature being such, they can, and do, gain influence among the gullible.
It is also true that not all the people in the western societies subscribe to the freedom of insulting speech. Most of them are actually a nice person.
But by being permissive and tolerating aberrant practices, they actually encourage these practices to widespread. These aberrations then become the norms and a part of the moral standard of the society.
Bad is now good and good has become quaint, square. And nobody wants to be labeled as a square because this will make them primitive, let alone popular.
To be normal requires acceptance and practice of the very thing that were once regarded as morally wrong. Thus explained why everything done in the name of freedom has now become sacrosanct. The freedom of speech that once started as a noble act of accepting different views has been extended to unlimited freedom of the press even to tell lies.
In the efforts to increase circulation, the press has begun to appeal to the basest of human instincts. And so now sex, violence, racial and religious prejudices are promoted. If there is not enough material of this nature, they can always be invented. And so lies and innuendos have become the common fare for those who control the contents of the media.
Hence, the prophet Muhammad has been depicted as a terrorist. A pot shot at pedophilia by illustrating Jesus with used condoms in church was circulated. And they tell us to embrace freedom of speech, even if it includes insulting to religious prophet.
The killing of Charlie Hesbo staffs is a heinous crime that has been denounced by any religions and societies. Twelve people died would not have died but for the provocation and insults. Unfortunately, this may not stop the western press from continuing telling lies or insulting others.
For them, these losses are just collateral damage that has to be paid in the name of freedom of speech. Attempts to reevaluate the freedom of speech are seen as an act of weakness.
In the age of feudalism, the power of the kings was strengthened by invoking the divine blessing. The king was above criticism. Even when they oppressed the people, it was impossible to correct improper behavior by the kings.
Attempts to curb the abuse of power, forcing the British king to sign the Magna Carta 800 years ago, but is still failing to debunk the idea of kingly rights. It was until the French Revolution that this divine right was finally discarded.
No one should question the freedom of speech, even when it proves to be somewhat harmful to society. It should be vigorously upheld, just as no one questions the divine rights of kings in the heyday of feudalism. (To be continued)