Freedom of Speech or Right to Abuse?

FREEDOM of speech. If I hear that inane excuse for disgusting language or justifying an ignorant point of view again, I may scream.

The true meaning involves questions about social context and discretion, not a rant and attack on anyone that takes your fancy.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is the basis for the freedom of speech we are entitled to, but there are also many other human rights that protect us from profanity and abuse. So really it contradicts itself.

The Convention also states several permitted reasons for limiting freedom of speech: “national security, the protection of health or morals, and protection of peoples’ rights and reputations.”

At the end of the day, If what you are saying is abusive to others, then it cannot be justified. We all live in a society where respect seems to have long gone and we use any excuse we can to make our behaviour acceptable. The groups that I am admin to have freedom of speech, in the true sense, not in the “I can say what I like, respect no one and attack others” way. Freedom of speech should be called freedom to express speech with consideration. It is wonderful that we do live in a country where we are allowed an opinion and can voice it through so many avenues, but just because you have a gun that doesn’t mean you should shoot people, does it?

Having the ability to do something doesn’t always mean we should. I think that people use social media now without the same morals and thoughts they would behave with in “real” life. I hear: “Just turn it off, don’t look” when someone complains they find something offensive or cruel.

People become braver and see this written faceless world as an excuse to become their alter ego, the one that has always had to behave and consider others.

The answer is easy. Behave as you would if you could see someone’s face. Just because you can’t see the tears in someone eyes, does not mean they are not there. A written word can be just as hurtful as a spoken one. Where we see this behaviour in forums, the issue can be magnified with the audience witnessing the behaviour running into thousands.

Would you stand on the street and watch one person getting attacked by a group? So why sit back and watch it play out on social media. Like anything, it takes one person to say “Stop” to give others the courage to join in and help defend.

Anyone can become a victim of cyber bullying and until laws are put into place to really protect us all, then it is up to us to behave in a way that is respectable and fair.Zipped-Lips_iStockphoto


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