Freedom and democratic constitutions, freedom of speech

Freedom of expression is the freedom to express ones thoughts and ideas and it is very important countries that are democratic. It is basically one’s political rights to communicate one’s opinions and ideas. Democracy nurtures the freedom of speech of its citizens and in turn citizens raise voice in case of any violations of the democratic rights of the people. The concepts of freedom of speech could be found in early human rights documents also.

Bill of rights in 1689 of England and Declaration of the Rights of Man and the citizen which was adopted in 1789 by the French Revolution affirms specifically the freedom of speech as an indisputable right. In Article 11, the declaration states that: “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.”Today, the freedom of expression and speech has been recognized both in the regional and international Human Rights law.

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Based on John Milton`s argument, freedom of expression is not only the right to express or publish but also includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. John Stuart Mill argued that without the freedom of thoughts or speech, there could be no progress in science, law or politics as it does require free discussion and opinions. A just and fair social system is unthinkable without the guarantee of freedom of speech to all members of the society. At times, the interests may clash, yet if one is not able to express his grievance he cannot protect his rights and safeguard his interests.

Therefore in all civilized and democratic constitutions, freedom of speech is preserved. Freedom of speech has become a powerful tool of transformation and grievance redressal is most parts of the world. With advancement in technology, satellite television has provided worldwide access for the people across the globe to express their voices at various platforms.

Richard Moon developed the argument that the value of freedom of speech and expression lies with social interactions. Moon states that, by interacting, an individual forms relationships and associations with others from family, friends, co-workers and public and this would help in the development of knowledge which would in turn be used for the development of a community. However with every positive aspect, a negative aspect comes and the same applies with the freedom of speech and expression. There are many limitations or restrictions related to the freedom of expressions. Expressions have to be made with responsibility and not by lacking it. The limitations would be implied when the freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights. It may follow the offensive principal like in the case of pornography or hatred speech.

Limitations occur through legal sanctions or social disapprobation. The Internet has laid a great platform for the freedom of expression of thought and speech at a wider reach. In 2003, The World Summit on the Information Society Declaration of principles, made specific reference to the importance of freedom of expression in the information Society , stating as, “We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organization. It is central to the Information Society.

Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits of the Information Society offers.”The freedom of expression at the information society level has also lead to the censorship that monitors the internet which includes the control of suppression of the publishing or accessing information on the internet should not be misused and should not hurt others feelings on any particular subject that is being discussed at any levels.


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