“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” – George Orwell
In our seminar this week we looked at the effects of freedom of speech and the important difference between individual and public freedom.
Limitations are currently set on the press, some as a result of Leveson others implied by tacit assumption. In the UK libel laws are still based on individual reputation over public freedom. In this sense it abides by JS Mills’ Harm Principle, whereby actions of any member of a civil community are only limited in order to prevent the individual harm of another. It is illegal to incite hatred or violence on basis of race or gender however, this does not prevent hatred arising.
Theresa May recently campaigned for a censorship of extremist views on the internet. Taking the view that: “The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.” -JS Mill. However, this returns the date to harm and to what extent is someone is a ‘nuisance’.
In terms of religion and freedom of speech, content is readily available and disseminated. Naturally, moral condemnation of extreme abstract or unacceptable views already takes place. The people have right to debate and action based on differing opinion. Through my reading I have come to the conclusion that I feel that it is not the role of a corporation to decide if the product of one individual should be withheld from others who it may concern or interest.
In conclusion it can be seen that on a personal basis the limitation of a point of view could be harmful. We as members of society are responsible for our own opinions and the level at which we censor our own output. This should not be conditional of our social status or the size of the audience we are disseminating to. As the title quote suggests, liberty is freedom of speech and therefore it is crucial for a democratic society.