Freedom of speech? In your dreams.
Posted by Exile on June 19, 2006
Lately, I have been reading and hearing a whole load of blather about the “freedom of speech”. Or the “right to freedom of speech”. While I believe that it is a fundamental right for everybody to enjoy, to say honestly what one feels, to publish and damn the consequences, I can’t actually find any real support for it anywhere.
Before you go for your gun and come get me, let me explain my frustration. I spent almost an hour surfing the net for specific documents that guarantee me the right to freedom of speech. I cannot find one document that unequivocally gives me the right to freedom of speech in Europe. In America, perhaps. The first amendment is quite clear.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Fine. But I don’t live in the U.S.A. Europe has no collective constitution, and won’t likely have one for some time, so what now? If Europe and the EU cannot guarantee me my rights where do I go for support? The UN might help me. Let’s try the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 19 (Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; 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.
Well, nice try but no cigar. Freedom of expression is not necessarily the same as freedom of speech. Had the declaration said exactly “freedom of speech, opinion and expression”, then I would be satisfied. You see, speech doesn’t actually get a mention. According to Kofi Annan, it is not included in the declaration.
Press Release SG/SM/6978 OBV/91 PI/1128 30 April 1999 – Kofi Annan.
“Freedom of speech is a right to be fought for, not a blessing to be wished for.”
It is something to be fought for? Then surely, it is something not yet taken as a basic human right? We have to fight for it. He said it, not me. And he should know.
I did find some support in the Danish constitution.
Everyone is allowed, in print, by writing or by speech, to publicise their thoughts under responsibility to the courts. Censorship or other preventative measures cannot be inserted (into this law).
Which means that I may be hauled before the judges for speaking freely, but I am allowed to do so. So where is my absolute and guaranteed freedom of speech?
I may be splitting hairs here, but so do prosecuting lawyers, and that is why I worry. I worry about my right to speak the truth as I perceive it and not be victimised for it. I worry that, to my absolute disgust, Oriana Fallaci is on trial (in abstentia) in Italy for expressing herself freely. I worry that our politicians here, are now openly admitting that they cannot, or will not, speak plainly out of fear of reprisal. I worry that my rights are being eroded by misguided and ridiculous political correctness in the name of globalisation and idiotic hyperliberalism.
Let me close with this quote that i found here.
Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy. It is fundamental to the existence of democracy and the respect of human dignity. It is also one of the most dangerous rights, because freedom of expression means the freedom to express one’s discontent with the status quo and the desire to change it. As such, it is one of the most threatened rights, with governments – and even human rights groups – all over the world constantly trying to curtail it.
It still didn’t say “speech”. Did it?