Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Why Should Protect Freedom of Expression?

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Why Should Protect Freedom of Expression?

In a simple term, democracy is defined as a manner for collective decision, in which all have equal role. Human societies are gradually inclined to move toward democratic decision. Outlining various tendencies, interests, and viewpoint is one of the most significant privileges of collective decision in democratic way. In a democratic system, citizens will gain this opportunity to participate in their self-determination. The right of effective participation in self-determination is one of the fundamental rights of mankind and an effective manner for involving the rights and interests of the public in policy-making and planning social, political, and economic issues. The second priority of democratic decision-making is reducing the possibility of error. Since the participation of various social groups in the process of decision-making is based on comprehensive awareness and information, it is mostly reasonable.
The possibility for citizens’ effective participation in their self-determination will lead to the development of their moral and civil personality. Those who are able to play a pivotal role in their self-determination, they will be independent and responsible individuals. Civil learning teach them better way of listening, clear way of expressing their ideas, and manner of considering the public interests in their decisions. Now the question is that why should we uphold the freedom of expression?
In fact, freedom of expression is the significant part of democracy. That is to say, democracy will be superior to despotic system and elitism if it recognizes freedom of expression as a fundamental pillar. With lack of freedom of expression, the opinion of the majority and voice of minority will not be heard. One of the reasons expressed for protecting freedom of expression is the fallibility of mankind. Men are fallible and will not always get the truth. To discover the truth, the door to criticism should be opened, which is possible through freedom of expression. Critics should have the opportunity to express their views without any obstacles and point out the defects. Men are often narcissists, which will not let them listen to criticism. On the other hand, others do not have this interests in our ideas – this will let them express their ideas and uncover the defects in an impartial way. Hence, freedom of expression will polish our thoughts through criticism. After all, if our ideas are impeccable, freedom of expression supports us to trust the truth of our words and ideas. So, we should have evidence for the truth of our ideas. Those who accept an idea, albeit being true, will hesitate over it with the emergence of small suspicion. Freedom of expression will provide us this opportunity to trust the truth of our beliefs and ideas. Suppressing false ideas is not right, either. Outlining false belief will motivate one to ponder over true ideas and words. The free expression of false ideas will also be for public good. Ultimately, freedom of expression is effective in developing citizens’ creativity and moral personalities. Representing yourself in the frame of artistic, literal, social, and political activities will be a distinction between mankind and other creatures.
Similar to other rights and privileges, freedom of expression is not absolute, either. In spite of the fact that freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights of mankind in social life, this right should be in accordance with civil rights of citizens in the society. The frame of language is one of the restrictions of freedom of expression. Based on a principle, words are free unless they lead to the harm of others. In other words, one’s words must not violate the rights of others directly or indirectly. For example, accusation, false advertisement of goods, advertisement of dangerous products, telling lie in contracts, disclosing a country’s security secret, are not allowed and should be prohibited. However, there is a distinction between moral and legal prohibition. If they are forbidden morally, there is not sanction or penalty behind; whereas violating a legal prohibition will be followed by penalty. For example, one issue will be prohibited morally but not legally. Here, both moral and legal prohibitions exist here.
Recognizing the right of wrong will be one of the fundamental principles of an open society. For instance, a number of issues will be wrong from my idea, but in a plural society, I should practice this tolerance for others to exercise the same issue which seems wrong to me. Recognizing some rights are often as asset in a society for protecting the freedom of expression. It does not necessarily mean that one can insult a sacred issue under any circumstances or spread hatred or hostility in a community. Rational dialogue with equal position is the fundamental principle of democracy. Thus, any negotiation which reduces the position of citizens or imperil their reputation or simply restrict the opportunity of rational words will be against human values.
It is aptly said in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Aminullah Amini is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at the outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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