Kushay's Matter Bank Politics

[AK] Free Speech

This note will discuss free speech, a principle that enables people to express their thoughts in the public sphere.

This expression are including but not limited to artistic, political, etc. We will discuss its purpose and when is it justified to be limited.

One of the purpose of free speech is expression. Every individual has an inherent need to assert their values to other people. What they feel, and their aspirations to make this world a better place. This is important for two reasons:

1. This ensures that they are included in society. A society is a collection of constantly interacting individuals, where every person strives to distinct themselves from the others. Free speech allows this to happen since you can express your genuine thoughts with it. (Ex: An artist will feel a sense of belonging to their country when their art is allowed to be published by the government)

2. Sometimes this is all they have. In some cases, people have little to no privilege such as material privilege (wealth, power, etc.). Having the ability to express your thoughts ensures that you have something in your control, and this is empowering to some people.

Since this is integral to that’s person happiness and self-fulfillment, governments should accommodate their desire and provide a platform where they can express themselves freely.
The second purpose of free speech is to persuade other people to a certain opinion. Ideally, the power to dictate “what is right” and “what is wrong” should not only reside in a handful of extremely influential individuals, but to the society as a whole. An ideal democracy is one that allows opinions to mingle and lets the society choose which opinion is the best one of all the options. Free speech also ensures this to happen.

So essentially, free speech can be seen as a tool achieve good democracy. Under this paradigm, it is justified to limit free speech by the time it distracts democracy. Three scenarios in which this can happen.

1. When the speech has evil intention. Evil intentions are inherently bad because even actions that are not materialized is bad (Ex: You will still be in prison for attempting to kill someone even though you fail in killing that person). Speeches that include this category are speeches that incites violence.

2. When the speech is based on an unarguable source. Every argument should allow a space for criticisms & counter-arguments or else it has no place in a democracy. (Ex: Opposing LGBT movements using the rhetoric of “God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” and arguments that are solely based on appeal to emotions).

3. When the speech excludes a certain group of people by the virtue of birth lottery. Democracy should be inclusive to everyone and not discriminate people based on things that they can’t control. (Ex: Speeches saying black people is inherently barbaric, Transgenders are trannies, etc.).

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