The freedom to speak
“The right to speak freely does not also guarantee you the right to be heard”
The right to free speech is protected in many countries and among those who fiercely uphold it the most is the United States of America. The first amendment primarily deals with this subject and many of its citizens defend that right even for those with whom they disagree. However, no matter how much freedom is granted, there are still limitations to what can be said or written.
As with any sovereign right, there is a measure of responsibility that comes along with it. Rights were not meant to be skewed in favor of some only to take advantage of others. The freedoms which they are meant to uphold were never established to give privileges to a few while enslaving others. They are rights to be equally shared by all; unless someone has abused that right and it has been stripped of him by the laws which provided them in the first place.
The right of free speech does not include hate speech, libel and slander, threats, or other rules of conduct which violate rights of people. If I want to get retaliation on someone, no matter how much that person may deserve it, I cannot use my right of free speech to spread lies or endanger the life of that person.
A lot of talk has been occurring lately about speaking up and not holding in your thoughts. Many great ideas have been pushed aside because the person behind that suggestion was too shy to say anything. Certainly that would have been a great time to exercise this right. On the other hand, there are those who you may wish had a little more of that shyness in their personalities. They brazenly blurt out any and everything that is on their minds no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. While it may be their “right” to do so, it can be annoying and somewhat of a selfish move.
Perhaps the most understated and under-considered aspect of freedom of speech is that this right does not come with a guarantee that you will be heard. While we all want our opinions to have as much validity as the next person’s, there is no law demanding people must listen or pay attention. Just because it’s your opinion does not guarantee you the right to be heard and to have more validity than others.
Experts in particular fields have earned the privilege for their opinions to hold more influence than others. Nevertheless, others not as educated still claim their opinion is better simply because it’s their opinion. In the end, this only shows they are exercising the right to display their own ignorance and arrogance.
Think for one moment. What if there were a law that we were required to give other people’s points of view the same amount of thoughtful consideration as we did ours. Although this would be impossible to regulate, in some ways isn’t that what freedom of speech boils down to? The right of free speech can be a strong defense for justice but it was certainly never meant to be used as a weapon against the vulnerable.Freedom of speech is not absolute and should never be taken for granted. It’s a reminder that even rights have restrictions and that we all are accountable for the way we use and interpret our freedoms. My thanks to M Wrona of Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.
Freedom of speech is not absolute and should never be taken for granted. It’s a reminder that even rights have restrictions and that we all are accountable for the way we use and interpret our freedoms. My thanks to M Wrona of Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.