Fighting Terror is Useless if We Give Up Our Right to Free Speech. We have the freedom to speak. So let us use it. Speak loud and clear and voice your opinions on issues that matter. Don’t let yourself be washed away by the limelight or think that your opinions don’t matter, because they do.
One of the biggest and most important ideals of a democracy is the right to have the freedom of speech – to be able to express oneself and ideas with no objection or oppression. Countless movements and campaigns have been initiated and fought over to ensure that this freedom remains a right, particularly in the United States, a nation founded on ideals of freedom and democracy.
We pride ourselves, as citizens of the ‘free’ world, of the fact that we have the privilege to exercise free speech, to express ourselves and our opinions, whether we are members of the press, or just regular citizens. How can we be certain that this freedom of expression is really free of bias and political partiality? Is our freedom of speech really free?
Take a look at Internet media. Anyone with access to the Internet can write or say whatever they want, and publish it within seconds, without having to abide by any regulations or instructions. Even the ‘actual’ media, the press that is reputable and can be ‘relied on’ for information, is subject to immense bias. In an age where anyone can go ahead and start a website or blog, it’s easy to fall prey to believing anything you see on the Internet.
Protecting free speech means protecting democracy
Free speech is meant to support the ideal that people shouldn’t be judged or discriminated against for their opinions and views. I believe this statement is only true if you’re a member of the “privileged” society of the world.
Being a female immigrant of Middle Eastern descent, I feel as though, occasionally, I am not able to fully exercise my freedom of speech, for fear of being judged in the wrong way.
The fear of being judged for my name, a name with a distinct Arabic, Muslim contextual background, is something I had hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with when moving to a free country like Canada. My family is Zoroastrian, but my last name is a constant reminder of the fact that my family had no say in choosing my sister and I’s last name, they could only give us first name’s that they found fitting.
A few years ago, my parents were talking about how we should change our surname as a family, and of course I thought they were joking. I couldn’t see why we’d have to change our name, because to me, a name was just that – a name, nothing more. I now understand why they wanted to change our surname, and I regret my decision to not have done it sooner.
In a society where fear is growing and is overtaking nearly all aspects of life, people have turned to prejudice and are quick to make assumptions about people. Some people may hear a name like mine, and immediately assume that I am Muslim and should be feared. No one considers that my family and I are Zoroastrian, that we do not identify with Islam in the slightest.
Such assumptions, although I continue to hope that people do not follow them, are a sad truth about our society. People are quick to judge, and as someone who is directly affected by this problem, I see no quick solution to making people change their ways, nor do I find it fair that a lack of education and awareness of others is causing ill to people like myself.
The fight to terror is a useless one if we give up our right to free speech
In this sense, freedom is poisoned by fear. Our freedom to speak, to express ourselves, and think freely, is being greatly affected by the fear that is being wreaked on by terrorists. The fact that we fear persecution and being targeted by terrorists if we publish an article or take measures in retaliation, only reflects the extent to which this problem is affecting our society.
By showing our fear, we are showing that we’ve lost to the terrorists. The fight to terror is a useless one if we give up our right to free speech. Terrorists find their power through fear. Their only source of power and identity is wreaking havoc and terror into the lives of others, and if we give up our right to self expression and speech, we are surrendering to these terrorists.
Media has, and will continue to be, an important source of power and information, especially in a world where the power of technology is ever-growing. We cannot begin a culture of censoring and shielding our true thoughts on the Internet for fear of being targeted by certain groups. This will be the beginning of our demise and ultimately act as the force that brings us down, from the democratic world to the autocratic.
We all have the freedom to speak. So let us use it. Speak loud and clear and voice your opinions on issues that matter. Don’t let yourself be washed away by the limelight or think that your opinions don’t matter, because they do. Taking action on a mass scale, by showing that we are not afraid, will prove once again that the free world will always prevail