Democracy is defined as government of the people , by the people and for the people . We live in a democratic country where constitution provides various freedoms to citizens . Freedoms like right to freedom and expression , right to form associations or unions , and so on . Each one of these six freedoms is subject to some restrictions. For rights can never be absolute . There are many grounds on which restrictions are imposed on various rights given to citizens . Press and Media are two vital ways to express views and opinions in democratic country . Government should not interfere in boundaries of press as they need to provide accurate news to crowd.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
In 1948 , the UN declared free speech as a one of the most powerful human right in the International Declaration of Human Rights . Freedom of speech and expression is the greatest right given to a human .Article 10 protects your right to hold on your own opinions and to express them freely without any interference of government . You can express your views by publishing articles , books or through television or through social media and so on . The power to express your opinions and views is considered as mother of all liberties.
According to new dimensions of freedom of speech and expression , government has no monopoly on electronic media under Article 19(A) . India which is world’s largest democracy ranked a miserable 140th out of 179 countries in Press Freedom Index . In recent years , government has cast a watchful eye on Google and Facebook to remove items that might be deemed “disparaging” or “inflammatory” or “Hurting religious sentiments”. According to philosopher Alexander Meiklejohn , democracy cannot be true to its essential ideal if those in power are able to manipulate ideas or expression by with folding information and stifling criticism .
WHY TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF SPEECH?
1) For the discovery of truth by open discussion – According to it, if restrictions on speech are tolerated, society prevents the ascertainment and publication of accurate facts and valuable opinion. That is to say, it assists in the discovery of truth.
2) Free speech as an aspect of self – fulfillment and development – freedom of speech is an integral aspect of each individual’s right to self-development and self – fulfillment. Restriction on what we are allowed to say and write or to hear and read will hamper our personality and its growth. It helps an individual to attain self -fulfillment.
3) For expressing belief and political attitudes – freedom of speech provides opportunity to express one’s belief and show political attitudes. It ultimately results in the welfare of the society and state. Thus, freedom of speech provides a mechanism by which it would be possible to establish a reasonable balance between stability and social change.
4) For active participation in democracy – democracy is most important feature of today’s world. Freedom of speech is there to protect the right of all citizens to understand political issues so that they can participate in smooth working of democracy. That is to say, freedom of speech strengthens the capacity of an individual in participating in decision-making.
Examples That States Importance Of Freedom To Speech –
One of the most famous and ancient example, which explains detotiarated condition of freedom of expression. Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy . For Socrates , Athens was like classroom and he would went about asking questions of common man and elite alike to arrive at ethical and political truths . He asked few questions of his fellow Athenians in the Socratic Method which made the audience to think through a problem to a logical conclusion . Just for this , he was admired by some and vilified by others. Many Athenians admired Socrates’s challenges to Greek conventional wisdom and the humorous way he went about it, but an equal number hated him and got angry on him and felt he threatened their way of life and uncertain future .He was convicted by the jury by a vote of 280 to 220 . Anthenian law allowed a punished citizen to appeal for alternative punishment . Instead of appealing , Socrates suggested to accept his sentence to death. Before excecution of Socrates , his friends offered him to bribe the guards and rescue him . He declined this proposal , stating he wasn’t afraid of death, felt he said he was still a loyal citizen of Athens, willing to bound by its laws, even the ones that stated him to death. Socrates drank the hemlock mixture without hesitation and slowly poison reached his heart .
In 2010 case of this kind ,Three Waterkloof High boys aged between 15 and 17 photo shopped the head of their Deputy, Mr Dey, onto a photo of two gay bodybuilders in a sexual pose. The image went round the whole school. The boys apologised and were heavily punished at school and still the Deputy charged them with defamation, loss of dignity and demanded damages. After a long process of judgements (with R45 000 damages awarded) and appeals the case reached the Constitutional Court. The Freedom of Expression Institute helped the boys, saying children had the right to freedom of expression, especially satirical expression. The Restorative Justice Centre also helped, saying the case should never have ended up in the formal court system. The majority of the Constitutional Court judges agreed it was defamation but reduced the fine to R25 000. However, Judges Zac Yacoob and Thembile Skweyiya disagreed. They said the case should have taken more account of freedom of expression and the defendants being children making a satirical attack on ‘authority’, not Mr Dey himself.
In 2008 a journalist, Jon, wrote an anti-gay Sunday Sun column headlined “Call me names, but gay is NOT okay”. Soon after, he was made Ambassador to Uganda. The Human Rights Commission meanwhile brought a hate speech case against him and in April 2011, he was found guilty. As the news tells us, gay people in South Africa actually are verbally and physically attacked and even murdered just for being the natural way they are: gay . Jon was told to publish an apology and to pay R100 000 to the Commission to promote gay rights. Instead Mr Jon has lodged a case to challenge this in the Constitutional Court. He says his right to free speech has been infringed. The Psychological Society of South Africa has joined the issue as a ‘friend of the court’ and will present research into how hate speech about members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community harms them and wider society.
A famous example of Freedom of Expression is about Kanaiya Kumar who was arrested for sedition . A case was registered against him under Indian Penal code of criminal conspiracy . He was charged by some students at JNU campus against hamging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.Kuldeep Varshnay, a leader of the youth wing of BJP was expelled from the organisation for offering Rs 5 lakh as a reward to anyone who cut off Kumar’s tongue . He also spoke against rape of kashmiri women committed by personnel of Indian army.Kumar was released on bail for lack of conclusive evidence.This issue has both aspects,whether the punishment was true or it harmed the freedom to speech of citizens.