Free Speech or Revolution

JC CollinsCultural, Premium POM

Islamophobia vs the Abuse of First Nations

During the French Revolution in 1789 the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen made it very clear that freedom of speech was an alienable right afforded to all. It specifically stated the following:

“The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.”

The right to free speech and expression is also recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is without a doubt one of the most important methods by which citizens can articulate opinions and ideas without the constraints of censorship, social exclusion, or government punishment.

But how do we define the abuse of freedom of speech?

It is widely agreed that speech which incites violence and hatred would be considered an abuse of this right. But doesn’t this stand in opposition to the very nature of free speech? Yes, it does.

There is still a moral authority for all to use good judgement and temperament when considering the use of words and language in human communication. As an example, a case could be made that the title of this article is testing the waters on the abuse of free speech by suggesting that there could be a revolution if free speech is threatened or restricted.

Does this constitute an incitement of violence?

Depending on your political leaning a case can be made either way. This would suggest that human interpretation and emotional intelligence can play a huge role in how we make our determination of what is an abuse of free speech and what isn’t. But interpretation can be used as a scapegoat for the restriction as well.

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