Freedom of Speech: Privilege or Fundamental Right

Freedom of speech is the freedom to express one’s opinion without fear of consequence or retribution. It is considered as a basic human right that every citizen should be accorded. As such, many countries around the world list freedom of speech as a basic right of their citizens. They proudly proclaim that every citizen has the right to express their opinions and voice their concerns.

The citizens of most countries, may have the right to speak, but what about the consequences of said speech?

There has been a recent wave of activism around the world in countries like the USA, Hong Kong, India, France, Middle East, Philippines, South American countries etc. We get to see which countries truly offer freedom of speech without retaliation to its citizens.

While one country bans journalists, another imprisons dissidents. Some countries even resort to a military crackdown on protesters or order silent kidnappings and assassinations of these speakers. All this happens while they proudly declare that they offer freedom of speech.

The reason that I am speaking, on this issue, is that I want to make people revaluate all the fundamental rights that they are offered. Many countries say that it’s citizens have the right to free speech. Yet, all speakers are effectively hushed at the end of the day. Anyone who raises questions is extracted and jailed or simply killed.

Does this happen in your country? Do you see activists raising difficult questions and living to tell the tale? For this exercise, don’t consider the conspiracies that keep floating around in social media. Make a quick check of all the social activists and if they are free or jailed or worse. If they are still continuing their work, then it is a good sign for civil liberties.

A tweet or a facebook post stating that our government is becoming fascist does not make it the truth. The fact that these people are allowed to speak badly about their government daily is proof that democracy prevails.

Just enabling free speech does not exempt the government of all wrongdoings. However, it gives the citizens a chance to question their leaders, ask pertinent questions regarding policies. They can speak up and discuss all the obstacles in the path. Citizens can now negotiate an amicable end to any disagreement. Every democracy can function only when there is equal participation from all sides. To participate in a democracy, Freedom of Speech is the cornerstone value.