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Chivalry and Freedom of Speech

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Chivalry and Freedom of Speech

Post by Dean Jacques on Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:00 am

Does freedom of speech give the right to use words to hurt innocent people? To spread lies and incite unwarranted anger? To maliciously gossip with impunity? To ideologically lead astray the public opinions upon which our democracy depends?

Indeed, it does.

But freedom of speech, like all our freedoms, does not exist in a vacuum. It does not eliminate moral responsibility. It does not erase personal obligations that would counter possible misuses. That is, after all, the moral rationale of freedom, which too many people ignore.

The truest benefit of freedom of speech (really its foremost purpose), is the sanctity of free discussion, debate and opinion, the principle of an unfettered press, and promoting a general equality among the masses.

From a moral perspective, it presupposes other virtues. Honesty, for one thing. A respect for others’ opinions. A use of courtesy that not only protects but encourages self-expression. Truth in advertizing. Dependably noble qualities in leadership.

It is interesting how the present focus on freedom of speech manages to skirt all that. Well-meaning advocates for a certain right, in their heated advocacy, often forget the obligations of other rights.

As thoughtfully informed citizens, we should always be cognizant of the larger picture.
Dean Jacques
Dean Jacques
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