Respecting the freedom of speech

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We live in a world where every person is aware of their fundamental rights and freedoms as a human being. In most, if not all constitutions across the world these rights are listed and most of them cut across the board. Most of us can probably name these rights without having to look them up. One right that always stands out to me is the freedom of speech. We all want to enjoy this right yet we are constantly abusing it.

We all have access to the internet: Facebook, twitter, blogs, tumblr. Every day we wake up and check what’s new on our favorite sites. Once in a while you will find someone said something that sparked off hours of debate. Or maybe they end up having their account suspended for it. On some rare occasions, they end up in court after being sued. We all have freedom to speak our mind. But do we really know what this freedom entails?

Sometimes you sit in front of a computer and your mind is full of so many things you want to share with others. So you post something that’s very offensive thinking it’s funny. Seconds later, it’s like World War I and II combined. You are getting insults and death threats from all over. You could be the bigger person and apologize or you could stand by it and defend your words. Either way, you are on a sinking boat.

I like the fact that we all know what our rights are, but I don’t think we fully understand the limits to them. The government just set up monitoring of blogs and social media for hate speech. They have forbidden us from discussing certain issues that would lead to incitement and animosity. After the announcement, I took some time to see if anything would change. It’s still the same; people are still pushing the limits of their freedom of speech.

It’s a good thing that most of us have found the strength to voice our opinions. I do however have a problem with the way we choose to do it. Sitting behind a computer and posting anything and everything that comes to mind is fun. But have you ever stopped to consider the repercussions your words have? Do you know the damage one word causes to someone? Why should you use your freedom to slander someone and ruin their reputation?

Many times we trade insults hoping to get noticed and probably become more popular on the internet. You spread rumors about people just to join the conversation and be relevant. So you decide to attack someone’s family, you lower their self-esteem and make them feel irrelevant in life. When anybody questions you, your response is that you have freedom of speech. Yes you do, but does that mean you should use it to destroy a life, to spread hate?

Freedom of speech is a great thing. Something I’m glad this country has allowed us to enjoy. But I find it insulting when it comes to someone using that right to foster hatred over the internet just because they can. You can’t be busy claiming freedom of speech yet all you do is misuse it and when someone does the same thing you jump on their throats.

The next time you want to spread hate or insult someone in the name of freedom of speech, ask yourself how you would feel if the tables were turned. If you would still be ok if you were the target then goes ahead with it. If you want your freedom of speech to be respected start by respecting others and not crossing the line.

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