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Freedom of Expression
Transcript of Freedom of Expression
First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights
Freedom of expression is the most essential of all freedoms and rights, and it is key to a truly free and democratic society, so freedom of expression of all types should be guaranteed protection by all governments. Freedom of speech should not be absolute, however, and a universal declaration listing the allowed restrictions of freedom of speech should be posted by the UN or a similar international organization and abided by all nations.
What is freedom of expression?
The right to express one's ideas and opinions freely without being persecuted or censored.
Freedom of expression can be divided into 5 types...
Antigua and Barbuda
Trinidad and Tobago
Papua New Guinea
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Republic of the Congo
Central African Republic
United Arab Emirates
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Types of freedom of expression
Freedom of speech
Freedom of the press
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of petition
Freedom of religion
Why is freedom of expression important?
Provides a variety of viewpoints on issues.
Gives the right to inform and criticize.
Enables change and societal progress through progressive ideas and protests.
Without freedom of expression...
Democracy would be nonexistent; citizens would have no say in any governmental affairs.
Only one pro-government opinion would be allowed.
Society would be ignorant and misinformed by government propaganda.
Government would be able to get away with corruption, oppression, and tyranny.
No societal advancement.
"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." -
Allows minorities and those with unpopular opinions to be heard and thus prevents tyranny of the majority.
Limits government power.
Measures the effectiveness of laws, and more broadly, the government itself.
The core of any free society.
Enables true participation in governmental affairs.
Protects all other human rights.
Freedom of expression enlightens the populace
Why is freedom of expression important?
Essential to democracy
Unfortunately, most people live a world without freedom of expression. Freedom of expression has been described as a "luxury of the West", with less than one billion people living in a country where the press freedom situation was satisfactory, according to Freedom House, an organization devoted to the protection of human rights worldwide.
According to this map,
countries constitute only 14% of the world's population, 42% of people live in
countries, and a whopping 44% of the population lived in countries that are
North Korea: a totalitarian example
Ranked #179 in the Press Freedom Index, the second worst in the world after Eritrea.
Information that enters and exits the country is very tightly regulated.
No independent media, all forms of media run by the government. These media outlets
Leader Kim Jong-Un
North Korean propaganda showing soldier destroying the Capitol Building
exclusively broadcast propaganda, misinforming the people and developing xenophobia and extreme nationalism among the people.
China: subtle restriction
China is ranked #175 in the Press Freedom Index, one of the worst in the world and nearly as bad as North Korea.
However, China uses more subtle methods to gain control, and thus saves face with the Western world, as opposed to North Korea
Internet in China
China's constitution guarantees protection of the five types of freedom of expression, although this is far from the truth.
Freedom of the press is heavily restricted; there are few private media outlets because the government makes it difficult to create new media outlets by requiring licenses to operate one.
The government also restricts foreign media, making it difficult for foreign journalists to enter the country and blocking most foreign publications.
Similarly to the freedom of the press, China also requires a government license to protest.
Visualization of the "Great Firewall"
The system of Chinese internet censorship, dubbed "the Great Firewall" is the most comprehensive in the world, with more being spent on internal security than its own military.
China has the largest population of Internet users than any other country, with 618 million users logging on in 2013.
The social networking sites Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook are all blocked in China, and replaced by the government-owned Youku and Sina Weibo.
By Timothy Lin
China: subtle restriction cont.
Xinhua News Agency, the state-owned media outlet that controls a majority share of the Chinese media market
Freedom of the Press
A government who controls the freedom of the press controls the information its people have access to. Commonly used tactics include:
Censorship of media that challenges the government.
Banning of private media so the government is the only news source.
Harassment of journalists can lead to self-censorship.
For stubborn journalists committed to their cause, prison sentence or even assassinations
The Internet and Free Speech
In recent years, the Internet has become a very popular medium to express ideas with the ability to potentially reach millions of people around the world without needing to own a media outlet.
However, the Internet has also been a revolution for censorship too, with many countries using it as a propaganda tool while sealing off foreign influences and creating a socially isolated state.
What can be done?
Create a document that serves as an extension to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Rights.
This document will outline the impermissible and admissible restrictions of freedom of expression.
Violations of this extension document will be treated as violations of human rights.
Conduct thorough annual investigations of state of affairs of press freedom for each country, to ensure that the declaration is being followed.
Prohibition of private media, or practices that discourage private media
Censorship of information of any kind (barring state secrets)
Restriction of free speech of any medium minus the admissible restrictions
Harassment, threatening, and assassinations of journalists
Usage of violent methods to break up protests
Public defamation (libel/slander)
Public disclosure of state secrets
Speech that poses a plausible threat to the safety of the public
Speech that intentionally incites violence
Defined as any form of expression that attacks a protected individual or group, usually on the basis of their background (race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.)
Pros of legalizing hate speech
Cons of legalizing hate speech
Speech is meant to persuade, so naturally hate speech spreads hate and bigotry.
When hate is spread, violence is more likely to follow.
Prohibiting hate speech is censoring an opinion, contrary to the very idea of freedom of expression.
Just because an opinion may not appeal to the public interest, doesn't
"I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
- Patrick Henry
mean the government must protect us from it.
Who is the government to decide what constitutes hate?
If we are to become a progressive and tolerant society, condoning bigoted attacks will not help.
What can you do?