Essay on Freedom of Speech
Free 800 words essay on Freedom of Speech for school and college students.
One of the first and the most vehement proponents of freedom of speech was English philosopher John Stuart Mill. He believed and propagated that any doctrine should be allowed the light of day no matter how immoral it may seem to everyone else. This precisely means that speech must be unrestricted, uncensored, and absolute. His philosophy and advocacy stand true to this date, as it is this liberty of thought and expression that has saved the majority of the world from despotism and tyranny. He believed that even if a person is wrong he must not be stopped, rather countered with arguments.
Freedom of speech is a prerequisite of liberalism. There is a thin line between democracy and dictatorship, and that is the privilege of expression and dissent. It encourages transparency and accountability of a government, empowers the citizens, and develops a society. Humanity emerged from conservatism, Orthodoxy, and retrograde social practices owing to the virtue of this independence and individualism. Humans congregated together and surrendered their sovereignty to a leviathan King which evolved into bureaucracy and then elected government. The whole concept of democracy revolves around people’s ability to make choices about who would rule them. History is replete with revolutions, both peaceful and violent, where people have put their lives in jeopardy to acquire this carte blanche.
Religion became the first victim of freedom of speech. Belief in the Almighty is inherent and a matter of faith that cannot be obligatory or mandatory. In ancient times, the charade of religion and the so-called benefactors or Godmen inhibited the growth of science and technology or rationality in the name of this fanaticism, Legendary thinkers like Socrates and Copernicus became victims of this blatant restriction. Homosexuality which is just a matter of personal sexual orientation was considered a felony, and a punishable offense. Gradually as society developed and great thinkers advocated the rule of common law and general will, the antediluvian and anachronistic practices faded and turned into a modern society.
Courage to speak one’s mind and face the consequences gave rise to journalism. It is most vibrant and robust testimony of how freedom of speech and expression led to the dissemination of information to the common people, who hitherto were subject to the State’s parochial propaganda. This journalism is strong and influential enough to topple dynasties, empires, and governments. Whenever there were attempts to gag the press, the prime motive has always been repression and totalitarianism. The Indian independence movement was a success because the leaders could connect to their people and arouse them with a spirit of nationalism through newspapers and radio. Mahatma Gandhi’s defiance is quintessential of how the might of a pen brought down the empire where the sun never set. Silencing of voices, subjugation, and authoritarianism, all had to stoop before the strength of people’s revolution and demand of their fundamental right to free speech and expression.
Globalization became the biggest benefactor of the proliferation of social media. The world actually became a small place to live in and people across the world could exchange their opinions and views. This massive connectivity became the reason for one of the biggest democratic movements in the history of the earth, the Arab Spring. Millions of citizens came on the streets of several Middle East kingdoms protesting against the autocracy and urban enslavement. They demanded the right to choose their own leaders and the incumbent ones failed to uplift their lives and thrived on nepotism and abuse of power. The people demanded the right to live with dignity and freedom. Any government across the world today dreads a revolution of that magnitude and resolve, the fight for their basic rights. Freedom of speech directly affects not just societal upliftment but also, economic progress.
American and European nations are thriving prosperously and blissfully as their society allows absolute independence to their citizens no matter how intimidating it becomes for the Government of the day. Countries like Russia, China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, censor internet and media. They use it as a tool for propaganda and keep a strict vigil on their citizens. The consequence of this illiberal autocracy is that even if they development economic or military clout, their citizens continue to remain oppressed. People live in fear in the atmosphere of timidity and conformism. Meanwhile, their leaders thrive on oligarchy and favoritism. Complacency is the law of the land, and the society never gets independence in reality.
Media is essential for a functional deliberative democracy. The entire world has seen the murder of some prolific journalists who were punished just for speaking their voices. Dogmatism and fundamentalism are the biggest enemies of freedom of any kind. It gives rise to sectarianism, bigotry, and extremism. Freedom of speech should be encouraged to be practiced in form of debates and deliberations, information dissemination, questioning, answerability, there is a big chance that social tensions can be minimized. An argument is better than weapons, discussions are better than wars, and freedom of speech is better than repressive zealotry.