“Freedom of speech and thought matters, especially when it is speech and thought with which we disagree. The moment the majority decides to destroy people for engaging in thought it dislikes thought crime becomes a reality.”
Freedom of speech and expression is the right of human beings where they are allowed to express their opinions and thoughts without the fear of being suppressed. It lets people exchange ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are essential for the growth of a society. Freedom of speech is a core value of a democratic society. Article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees the freedom of speech.
In countries like China, freedom of speech is not seen as a right, but rather a privilege that not even the wealthiest receive in the country. The media is controlled by the government and compelled to say things favourable towards government policies. If anyone criticises or questions the government, they are thrown into jail or given a warning by government agencies to shut their mouths. Freedom of speech expression is a crucial part of a healthy functioning society; therefore, governments should encourage their citizens to express themselves more rather than suppressing them.
Freedom of speech enables journalism that wants to find the truth, rather than giving out information that people want to hear. Quality journalism is founded on the principles of free speech, asking difficult questions and, reporting issues in an unbiased manner. Accurate information needs to be presented to the masses as this information helps people form opinions, shared values and policies. Without freedom of speech, biased information would flood our screens and papers which is detrimental to our society’s well being.
A free press helps inform the public about important events in the country and around the world. If people are not fully aware of what is going on around them and do not get accurate information, they cannot participate in their communities or vote effectively. The more informed a democratic society is about politics and holding informed opinions, the stronger the democracy is. Freedom of speech is an essential part of democracy so that people can discuss, debate and exchange their ideas with each other.
Another reason for the importance of freedom and speech and expression is that it allows for the voices of marginalised and minority communities to be heard. Since minority communities are left out of the mainstream discussions, freedom of speech gives individuals the right to speak up without the fear of being attacked. These communities voices are necessary to have an open society where everyone can live in harmony. Whether it is women’s rights, LGBTQ communities, economically disadvantaged groups, ethnic and religious right etc, everyone’s voices and opinions deserve to be heard.
Freedom of speech is not only important for a free press but also art, comedy, political satire etc. People should have the freedom to put forward ideas, theories and opinions without the fear of repercussions. Whether it is stand up comedy, or visual arts, freedom of speech and expression is essential for a healthy arts culture.