Free Speech is an intrinsic element that any functioning democracy requires in order to sustain itself. The limitations of free Speech in politics and whether or not it should be curbed is an interesting consideration…especially in the age of Cancel Culture and the internet. Particularly because both regular and powerful people can be shadow banned or restricted on the internet for just disagreeing with the 'Topic du Jour'. To say nothing of the firestorm that a controversial message by a politician generates. Recall how Twitter banned the sitting president of the USA, less than 3 years ago. Whether you agreed with it or not, is irrelevant. The point is, that big tech shouldn't have the power to silence anyone, and definitely not in the political sphere.
That is the crux of the matter. To restrict free Speech in politics is to not treat powerful people as human beings. That's the last thing we need, considering the rampant corruption, entitlement and the general moral depravity that pervades politics. We need to treat political entities like one of us and hold them accountable. That's the only way the ideals of 'for the people, by the people anhe fourth pillar d of the people' can be upheld in a flourishing democracy.
No matter how apolitical we are, the fact that our entire society is governed by politics is a tautological platitude. Hence the onus on us to try to improve it, in any small way. However, doing that by restricting freedom of expression is just 'Bad News Bears' rather than the utopia we may be misguidedly aiming towards. Multiple examples of repression can be found in fiction and history. Most of these tales tackle a similar conundrum: If people in the seat of power wouldn't be allowed to speak their mind, then who will? Where will the limits lie? Or will we stop at nothing until we become another gulag that Solzhenitsyn wrote about. It always starts with obfuscation. And then the issue winds on and on until it becomes a rolling stone that doesn't gather any moss, nor any substance. In the same vein, if powerful people have their speech curbed, then what happens to information and transparency? And who exactly will restrict such speech? These are all questions that require satisfactory answers before such an idea can even be put on the agenda.
There's also the unavoidable elephant in the room. Hate Speech. The most loaded of all emotionally charged terms. And it would be stupid, almost ridiculous to ignore its existence or propagation in political rhetoric. Undeniably, the problem of hate speech by people in politics is real. However, the solution is not for the courts to draw a new line, or to make another law. It's the representative parties…and that resolve is strongly missing. It is actively discouraging oppositions to monitor each other and for coalitions to neutralize one another's mistakes to work collaboratively, for the betterment of all.
A bitter pill we must all learn to swallow is that hate Speech IS free Speech. Words are powerful…. my speech and writing. Free form and expression of thought invite criticism and allow us to consider other perspectives. This gives the problem a new context as well as fosters the necessity of tolerance as a virtue. When we have unfettered access to diversity of thought, we can understand people, their intentions and effectively combat or encourage them.
As for the opinion that free political speech is the key cause of violence…well we need to stop blaming the faults of terribly disturbed people on those who are just articulating an alternate point of view. Citizens exercising their right shouldn't under any metric be put under the same category as criminals who actually set out to harm people. Instead, we as a generation need to educate ourselves and each other more. I know, It's easier said than done, but we take the time to research about our jobs, the stocks we invest in, colleges and plenty more. We should apply the same principle and dedication to researching politics and our government.
Yet it's equally important to remember that there's a difference between liberty and licentiousness. At no point in time should we allow the already existing vitriol to descend into a chaotic vortex that is impossible to crawl out of. Limited caveats on restricting political speech could include:
- Slander or defamation
- Threats of physical or mental harm
- Sedition or Treason
- Incitement to violence, vandalism or destruction.
With great freedom comes greater accountability. I may disagree with you or the government, but I’ll always defend the right to say it. It’s necessary to fight for free speech before all of our mouths are taped shut. It might be vain, but it's important. How will you use your speech?