Free Speech In 2018
It seems free speech is becoming less of a reality these days.
I am a strong believer in someone's right to free speech. I think people should be able to voice their opinion and make jokes about anything they want. I do believe there is definitely a time and place to say certain things; however, censorship is becoming too much in this day and age and this is what I will be discussing in this latest post.
Many people differ in opinions about most subjects. This is what debates are based around, a person trying to argue their opinion across to the other in the hopes that they will see where they are coming from. It is very rare that people with strong opinions will come to an agreement. But this is the beauty of free speech, in my opinion: people being able to voice their views without risk of discrimination. However, with censorship being how strict it is these days, people can often refrain from expressing their views in fear of punishment. Whether that be in the workplace, online, or even at home, I believe this is wrong. This is a breach of the basic human right to be able to speak freely, and in America the right to free speech is written in the Constitution which shows how important it really is. Just because somebody differs in opinion from you doesn't always mean they are necessarily wrong, but rather they believe something that you disagree with. This shouldn't be such an issue to resort to censor those with different opinions. This is seen mostly on social media. People are able to report content if they deem it offensive, despite offense being subjective, and risk giving that person a ban. This may not seem like a big deal, but if someone relies on their income from these sites and they get banned for any amount of time, it can impact them financially. Just because someone finds something offensive, doesn't make it inherently offensive. This is the danger, however, with the communities on social media; opinions vary and sometimes these differing opinions can clash and it can escalate into more personal attacks and hate speech. I feel this is another reason why it is being censored more ,being people are afraid of the offense they can receive for having a certain view, which isn't how free speech should work.
Another use of free speech is humour. This is possibly the riskiest use of it as it can result in vicious hate speech attacks towards the user who makes a joke someone could deem "offensive." However, humour, as well as what is offensive, is subjective so it can never be truly classed as offensive or unfunny. The best example recently of humour being an issue is the case of Mark Meechan, who has been found guilty of a criminal offense. What's the offense you may ask? He made an inappropriate joke in a video. I know that this may sound like a joke itself but I assure you it is not. He taught his girlfriend's dog to give a Nazi salute and he shows this in the video. He was found guilty of making an offensive joke. The problem with this is that offensive humour has been around for years. Comedians like Frankie Boyle always push the boundaries of offensive humour with each show they do. It's the same in Hollywood, many films have used offensive humour, much like The Interview with James Franco and Seth Rogen. In this film, they use North Korea's supreme leader as the main butt of the joke throughout the film. So how can we as a society ignore these people making offensive jokes but bash other people for doing the same thing? Like I said, I am a big believer in free speech and censoring humour is not free speech. This is also a problem on social media platforms as many people can again report posts and ultimately result in the user getting banned. I explained previously, this can affect their income if they rely on social media for their money. YouTube is also very big on monitoring the content on their platform, which is understandable and I am not saying that they shouldn't do so. However, making it so if a creator uses inappropriate language or offensive humour they lose out on ads being played over their videos, is wrong. In most cases, YouTube is their only job so taking away their revenue just because they use a profanity or use humour that some people may not like is not fair. They lose out on the only source of income to help them pay for bills, food etc. so imagine how they feel when they have to ultimately alter their content to something that is deemed appropriate for YouTube just to get paid. This is destroying YouTube personalities due to censorship of foul language or jokes because they have to change in order to just get by. This is not what free speech is and it's not what it has ever been about.
There is one very big exception to the free speech argument and that is hate speech. If someone speaks with intent to hurt or to discriminate then this shouldn't be allowed and should be dealt with accordingly. Hate speech can be aimed towards any community but some of the main examples come in the form of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and so on. Hate speech is not to be confused with humour, however, the context of what is said is very important. But you cannot cover up blatant hate speech with the excuse of humour because people will be able to see through that. I do not in any way condone hate speech as no one should and it is the one danger of the right of free speech. This is the only danger as people can play the free speech card and try and claim that they are being denied a basic human right if they do engage in hate speech but this is in fact not the case. If hate speech is being used online or anywhere for that matter, always report it. There are many laws in the UK and US against hate speech so if someone is speaking with the intent to hurt a certain person or community then it is appropriate to report it.
Thank you for reading, and be sure to check out my other posts