Freedom of speech

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too

By Voltaire

Quoting again from one of my most admired figures from the pages of history, this post of mine will be solely devoted to the most important freedoms of all i.e. freedom of speech.

Human beings evolved from animals as we all know. But sometime 10000s years back, rather than just making sounds, humans learnt to make some sounds which defined a characteristic action or thing. Slowly, along with the evolution of the humans, the evolution of these meaningful sounds also took place and through that, we formed what we call today as the ability to speak. This was one of the major turning points of the complete history of mankind since from then, the wheels of progress became much faster. This was the birth of languages as a very effective and extremely useful tool to pass ideas from one another. And since then we have never looked back. ‘Speech’ is essentially an idea which only resides in the brain of the speaker and he uses the language as a tool and the sound as a carrier to pass it to others.

When written, the words become the carrier of the ideas. But this ability, this extremely beautiful discovery of mankind has been on attack from forces since the time it was discovered. The freedom to from your ideas and then to pass it to others has always been in lock horns with forces which power gets threatened by the transmission of these ideas.

Freedom of speech is the most important of all the freedoms which we can think of. It has to be the first of all the freedoms which one has to ask in a society. Freedom of speech means the ability to speak whatever one wishes to speak without anyone or any government or any organization stopping it. Of course, the basic premise that comes with this freedom is that the individual takes full responsibility of his words and does not indulge in intentional false defamation. If he/she does so, they must be dealt with law in proper manner. But apart from that, no one, not even the richest, the wisest, the most powerful should be able to stop that one individual from speaking his mind. Even if the whole humanity is against that idea, he/she must be allowed to speak it. As Voltaire said

I do not agree to you, but I shall defend to death your right to say it”.

Freedom of speech means to be able to speak clearly against anything which one feels is wrong. If one feels something against religion, he should be free to speak his mind. If someone does not like the working of any politician, he must be free to speak as he/she likes. If one does not like the laws of the land, he/she must be free to speak against it. No one or no entity should or be able to curtail that fundamental right of a citizen to speak his mind.  That’s the only and only way how liberty can be achieved.

This freedom is an enabler of all the other freedoms one wishes to have in a civilized society. Freedom of speech in a way lays out the path for all the other freedoms one desires. Ideas create inventions, ideas start movements, ideas solves problems, ideas explain things, ideas make understanding things easy, ideas show the truth, ideas and the only way one can propagate the ideas is through speech.

That’s why the freedom of speech is so very important for human progress and prosperity. Freedom to live, freedom to stay at or go to places, freedom to religious choice, freedom to earn livelihood are made easier if the freedom of speech is realized.  So, needless to impress upon, because of the enormous potential of this freedom, it is always desired to be curtailed by the people who hold power.

Wherever the power in the form of money or administrative power is threatened by the transmission of certain ideas, they want to restrict it. Because humans whenever are in a state of prosperity and some force may harm it, then they would try to restrict that force even though it’s against democracy or illegal. The desire and the habit to yield power is so engrossing that they can go to any lengths to protect it. This directly leads to the restriction of the freedom of speech.

These restrictions can be of any forms like not being allowed to speak against religion or God and making a law against it. Or not being able to write or speak against a politician. Or putting censor boards to censor movies. Or banning any movies or books. Or not allowing criticism of the government policies. All such acts as we can clearly see are against the principles of democracy.

Many a times, these censorships are not just imposed by the government but by the people or the citizenry itself upon itself. Such a self imposition of censorship by the society is a step taken backwards but nonetheless it happens.

Societies have been known to shun those who go against the wind, who walk away from the herd. Not only such societies start deteriorating but also put a halt on the progress of itself. So, it is very important for a democratic society to flourish is the realization of this fundamental freedom of all, i.e. freedom of speech.

The society should be mature enough to accept the individuality and the freedom of someone to think complete different and against what the society as a whole thinks of. Such an environment is the conducive environment for anything new that can happen.

Galileo thought against the established beliefs in his days and paid the price for it. But all our progress has been achieved in the very same direction in which he thought. In short, the society and the government should serve as watch-dogs of each other for the attainment of freedom of speech for each and every single citizen, no matter how poor, how weak, how foolish, how naïve, how irresponsible he or she may be.

Lastly, as the quote at the starting of this post says, there should be no one who should or could decide what someone else reads, watches, hears. In a crux, every human should have his complete and sole authority upon his/her interests and is able to pursue it.

Again quoting …

“A people which is able to say everything becomes able to do everything.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

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7 Responses

  1. I am just breaking the long paragraph into paras….for more readability…!

    Hope you don’t mind! 🙂

  2. no problem, KK. 🙂

  3. Now, to the comment…

    I like the opening quote…with full cooperation to what is being said “….think for yourself and let other to do so….!”

    Hmmm…will leave the post here and think for myself :D!

  4. Nice post..!!

    One doubt I have had for long is – who would have been the first non-english speaker to learn english & how he/she/it would have learnt?!?!
    I mean how the communication would have happened between the two…!
    How the first translation of any two languages is done without an intermediary language..

    While you may think WTF after seeing this comment, I just got reminded of it after reading the birth of languages..!

    I like the middle quote..!

    I also think, it is better to keep quiet at times [such as this, but still I made my comment]..!! 😉 what would you suggest!!

  5. @ boo

    nice question…on the surface it does look like a catch22 situation. But a little scratching will reveal the truth. See, the answer to your question is another question “how does a infant learn to speak the language that the family members speak in the home?” Coz even the child doesn’t know any language so how he gets able to frame small sentences and then finally learns to speak normally.

    The same is with your question. when 2 people meet and they speak different languages, the first communications are done thru signs. Slowly, the new person sees what 1 person says to another for some specific action. The new person understands that those words mean that action/thing. This way, he gets entry in the new language. by matching particular sounds with particular actions and things and this goes on and on. Finally the new person is able to speak fluently the new language.

    • That’s a wonderful answer and the possible……logical analysis!

      There is something similar to it…will write later!

  6. kewl topic…. freedom of sppech… one of India’s most pathetic Fundamental rights… 🙂

    will publish my entire comments here later

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