Freedom of speech is part of human rights that allows people to express their views without fearing punishment or censorship (Barak-Erez, & Scharia 2011). This right allows people to voice their opinions, in either written or unwritten format. Freedom of speech is necessary to prompt changes or development in society. However, this right also extends to protecting the view, beliefs, or opinions of the minority groups. All governments have taken measures to limit this right to prevent individuals from uttering offensive views that may promote terrorism, fascism, or racism. The government also limits this freedom to prevent obscenities, words that may prompt anarchy, and child pornography, among others.
Benefits of freedom of speech
The concept of freedom of speech is beneficial as it allows individuals to voice their opinions with fearing sanctions, punishments, or condemnation by law. Through this protection, citizens of a country have the power to question or fight injustices and prompt economic, social, or political development.
Importance of freedom of speech
The freedom of speech concept is regarded as an essential right that an individual can have. Because of its importance, almost all countries have preserved it in its constitution. In the United States, this right is protected under the First Amendment. The principal purpose of this right is to foster democracy. The concept of democracy is founded on going with the majority opinion. This right is protected to enable individuals make free choices when voting to form a government. The second importance of this right is that it prevents corruption and dictatorship. As a matter of fact, countries that do not protect this right turn into dictatorships. For instance, North Korea became a dictatorial regime after the Korean War after the government denied its citizens this freedom. The Kim family chose to control all aspects of North Korean lives, controlling religion, recreation, and media (Yoon 2003). The government runs the press, thus controlling all contents and stories reaching the public. No North Korean is permitted to question the government in any aspect. People who go ahead to question the regime and its actions are either executed or sent to hard labor camps.
Drawbacks of freedom of speech
Without limitations, the concept of freedom of speech may be misused by people to cause harm to others (Barak-Erez, & Scharia 2011). For example, this right can be misused by individuals to voice comments that promote terrorism, anarchy, and racism. This freedom should not be used to make comments that suggest that one race is superior to the other or one gender is superior to the other. In instances of war, this concept may be misused by individuals for selfish gains. For instance, a person may use this right to sell his country’s secrets to another country or make comments that harm national unity. To prevent these acts, countries have legislation that restrict the enjoyment of this right. For example, the United Kingdom passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Act and the Terrorism Act in 2006 after the 2005 London bombings to prevent its citizens from making comments that may be seen to promote terrorism, racial, or religious animosity, either directly or indirectly (Barendt 2009).
Changes benefited from freedom of speech
Individuals have benefited from this right while at the same time seeking changes. It has enabled them to voice their concerns about how the government is run. With this right, individuals can now stand against oppression and injustice without fearing the law.
- Barak-Erez, D, & Scharia, D, 2011, “Freedom of speech, support for terrorism, and the challenge of global constitutional law”, Harvard National Security Journal, 2, 1-30.
- Barendt, E, 2009, “Freedom of expression in the United Kingdom under the Human Rights Act 1998”, Indiana Law Journal, 84(3:4), 851-866.
- Yoon, D, K, 2003, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its changes and implications”, Fordham International Law Journal, 27(4:2), 1289-1305.