The power and responsibility of free speech

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 10:35 AM | comments: 0

One of our most cherished freedoms in the United States is our right to free speech. I can't think of anything else that is more representative of what we stand for. We accept that the good comes with the bad to a degree, meaning that even flag burning and hate qualifies as free speech.

On one hand, the power of free speech has radically changed things for the better. From the abolishment of slavery up through the civil rights movement, free speech has been critical to our national evolution. It has exposed corrupt politicians at every level. I think we take for granted just how powerful this is.

At the same time, we also tend to ignore the responsibility that comes with it. The most recent example of this responsibility is the recent anti-Islam short film, produced by Americans. At home, we can just blow it off as a bunch of fringe weirdos, but beyond our borders, it can be taken out of context as representative of a national position. Nothing incites radicalism like radicalism, and one could argue that this nonsense got Americans killed.

What you think about religion or foreign policy is irrelevant to my point. The point is that free speech comes with a great amount of responsibility, because in the digital age it has no boundaries. Think carefully about what you have to say, because the consequences can be greater than you imagine.


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