Freedom of Speech?

Freedom of Speech?

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
  • 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.

Throughout history, governments, without exception, have restricted freedom of speech in some degree or other. In a recent article on The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald summarizes the emerging trends in the restriction of online speech.

It is argued that freedom of speech is an inalienable right, essential to democracy. I beg to differ. The right of freedom of speech is increasingly used as a "shield" to disseminate disinformation, misinformation and propaganda. Governments, the free press, private interests and corporations regularly deceive, omit, hide, fear-monger, manipulate and marginalize, all under the cover of freedom of speech. Dissidents, opponents, whistleblowers and anyone with ideas challenging the status quo are dealt with, discredited, silenced, ridiculed and punished using the power of "free speech". Effectively, only those with money and power are free to speak. Most people are left in the dark through information control, or shamed into effective silence by political correctness. Willful deception by the powerful and the elite, undermining ideas and information, should never be a human right. Today, in most countries, the issue is not the restriction of freedom of speech. Today, the greater issue is the systematic propagation of misinformation, especially by conspiring governments, media and corporations. And, unmindfully echoing someone else's grand narrative is not free expression.

Of the 196 countries in the world, all but 19 have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR reads:
  • 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
  • 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
  • 3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
    (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
    (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Recently, I've posted a number of articles related to "Freedom of Speech". If interested:
Freedom of Speech?
Freedom of Expression: The Right To Offend?
Freedom of ... Thought, Consciousness, Religion, Expression, Speech
The Right To Be Stupid?
Freedom Of The Press: Coercion vs Threat vs Self-Interest
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