Explainer: Freedom of Speech - Use it or Lose it

FAN | Jul 19, 2021
If you want to live in a free country where you can think, write, sing, pray, and speak freely, you must stand up for freedom of speech, even when it becomes difficult or uncomfortable.

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Explainer: Freedom of Speech - Use it or Lose it

Freedom of speech isn't always comfortable because it often means defending the rights and freedom of people who say unpleasant things or things we don’t agree with.

If you want to live in a free country where you can think, write, sing, pray, and speak freely, you must stand up for freedom of speech, even when it becomes difficult or uncomfortable.

 

 

 

Transcript

The concept of free speech rests on the simple idea that whatever people think, they should be allowed to say. In a free society:


- Differences of opinion are inevitable and tolerated; and
- These differences of opinion are better resolved by argument than force or violence or threat.

Freedom of speech isn't always comfortable because it often means defending the rights and freedom of people who say unpleasant things or things we don’t agree with.

History shows that people with the power to dominate or dictate how people think, use this power to crush the freedom to believe in a different way of life.

Even though freedom is often uncomfortable, uncomfortable freedom is so much better than no freedom at all. Without the freedom to exchange ideas, views and beliefs, we cannot find solutions to our problems.

One of the most important defences of free speech in history was crafted in a dissenting judgment in the 1929 US Supreme Court case of Hungarian pacifist Rosika Schwimmer, who was denied citizenship for refusing to swear that she would take up arms to defend her adopted home country of America.

In a dissenting opinion, ageing Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who fought and was wounded in the American Civil War, declared that there is no principle

‘that more imperatively calls for attachment than … the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate’.

The freedom of speech, codified in our Constitution, is key to building a better South Africa based on better ideas.

If you want to live in a free country where you can think, write, sing, pray, and speak freely, you must stand up for freedom of speech, even when it becomes difficult or uncomfortable.

 

 

 

Illustration sources available here.

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