What is meant by freedom of speech?
It is the power or right of an
individual or community to express one’s opinions and ideas without any fear of
retaliation(revenge), censorship (control or suppressing the behavior of
others, usually on moral grounds) or sanction (ban, restriction).
The term freedom of expression is
sometimes used synonymously (closely associated), but includes any act of
seeking, receiving and imparting (conveying) information or ideas regardless of
the medium used.
Right of free speech in international law:
Freedom of speech is cherished
(highly valued, honoured) as a fundamental right in modern world and this
valuable right in modern world and this valuable right is universally
acknowledged (recognized or accepted especially in legal form) and protected as
well. Article 19 of UNDR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) states that:
“Everyone has the right to
freedom opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference (opposition or intervention) and to seek, receive and
impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
So, the right of free speech and
expression is recognized and protected by the constitution of every state as it
is regarded as a pre-requisite (essential, requirement) for smooth and proper
functioning of democracy.
Freedom of speech is something that is authorized
(enpowered, permitted) to every person no matter rich or poor, young or old,
every person holds different ideas, thinking, tastes and opinions and each of
them should have complete liberty to express them.
Abusive use of the right oh freedom of
Unfortunately, we have changed
the definition of “Freedom of speech “. We have changed our way of expressing
ideas. We must understand that, freedom of speech is not a license to talk
anything and in any manner. Some people are misusing this right to propagandize
(spread by propaganda) aggressiveness, intolerance, and enmity (hatred). People
spread hatred, abhorrence (disgust, hatred), hostility (aggressive behavior),
sectarianism (strong support for the religious or political group you belong
to, and often involves conflict with other groups) and defame fellow human
beings in the name of freedom of speech. Thus, in this way free speech changes
into hate speech.
An instance of it can be Charlie
Hebdo’s act which was given name of “freedom of speech” which was in fact a
“freedom to insult” according to Muslim community. They the cartoons of Prophet
Muhammad (P.B.U.H). This act is not only forbidden in Islam but also caused
many Muslims to suffer emotional pain and resentment (anger, bitterness) at
such an open exhibition of hatred in the name of freedom of expression.
Thus, if one has a right to speak
whatever one wishes. But another person also possesses a right of reputation.
Hence, the right of free speech extinguishes (ends) at a point when it
justifiably (wrongly) interferes with the right of reputation of another. There
is a need to maintain balance between varying and conflicting rights of persons
so as to enhance order in the society.
Limitations on freedom of speech:
There is an overwhelming (strong)
consensus (agreement) of the legal theorists and political philosophers that
some limitations must be placed on free speech and expression to maintain
Just as the right to hold a
licensed gun does not grant someone to shoot a human being, it is the
responsibility of the gun holder to use it with extreme care, similarly the
right of “freedom of expression “should be practiced carefully so that we may
not spread hatred and ignite (explode) violence in the society. Do not abuse
other “Rights” in the name of freedom of expression. We all have a role to
civil and respectful citizens.
Circumstances in which limitations on free
speech is recognized in civilized states:
speech against social and ethnic (community related to different racial or
cultural groups of people) communities or religious groups.
speech (speech encouraging people to fight against or oppose the government)
threatening national security.
(insulting, abusive) statements.
(violation) of right of privacy.
inciting (provoking) violence.
(disrespect) of court.
owned by others or infringement of copyrights.
(behavior, act or language that is sexual and offends or shocks people) and
pornography (writings, pictures and films etc. designed to stimulate sexual
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the
right of free speech is not an absolute right and must be exercised within
restrictions imposed by law so that others can also enjoy their freedom. In
view of that, any speech that has tendency to disturb public peace, law and
order communal (relating to community) harmony and national security should be
curtailed (reduced, limited) and disallowed.