Freedom of Speech


A look at freedom of speech in Western society.

No regulations should be placed on speech unless it directly invokes violence. For example: saying, “I want to kill this person” directly invokes violence, but saying “I hate this person” or “This person is a (fill in the blank)” does not. There should be no gray area or misinterpretation. Creating grey areas when regulating what people can and can’t say is a dangerous game. I often hear the phrase “hate speech” thrown around. Those who have read George Orwell’s 1984 should understand that essentially anything can be labelled as “hate speech” if you put the right spin on it.

When I get into arguments with people about freedom of speech the argument usually boils down to “who gets to decide what is and what is not considered hate speech?” The common answers are “the judicial system”, “the government”, “society”, etc. Then I ask: “would you let a cabinet and judicial system under Donald Trump define what is ‘hate speech’?” The answer is always “no”. The solution then is to wait for the “correct government” to do the job, a government that aligns with your own opinions. Yet does any one political party, group of judges, or group of people have the power to define what is universally regarded as hate speech? I don’t think so.

I’ll give you an example of why regulated speech of any kind, unless it is speech that directly invokes violence, is a horrible idea. Take China, the country that embodies the term “politically correct”. In China, there is clearly no freedom of the press. They are not allowed to report on anything they want, only what the government deems fit. Even their Google is highly regulated; you won’t find anything on “Tiananmen Square” no matter how hard you look. China did not instantly shift from freedom of speech to the control of expression it has now. There are steps. First you define “hateful language”; it starts off as “targeted” speech towards a group of people. That definition is so broad that any “hateful” reporting done on their prime ministers and senators is now unacceptable, and anything merely negative about the Chinese government is now “politically incorrect” and so on and so forth.

The example is not as extreme as you may think. Think of all the countries in the world that have a total freedom of the press versus the countries that do not. You will find that the vast majority do not, and not by accident either. Even in America, we see CNN and FOX News being heavily funded by politically-interested parties. This is not conspiracy. If you don’t believe me then watch their programming during the election cycle. Furthermore, you now have “Trump News” and “Info Wars” both being endorsed by Donald Trump. Does a true freedom of speech really exist then, or is it just an illusion? Either way, any self-respecting democracy should always fight for as close as the absolute freedom of speech it can achieve, unless it directly invokes violence as I have said before. If you advocate for “regulated freedom of speech” then you will get exactly that and more. If you give the people in power an inch, they will take a yard.