Should limitations be imposed on practicing free speech?

Limitations are necessary

The French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has a history of publishing controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that angered Muslim leaders in France, the Middle East and other parts of the world. In a survey conducted by Le Journal du Dimanche, a French weekly newspaper, 42% of respondents feel that the country should “consider these reactions and avoid publishing these cartoons,” while 57% of respondents said “we should ignore these reactions and continue to publish such cartoons.” The remaining 1% had no opinion. If we do not limit what can be said for the public to hear, or in this case, see, then there will be more reactions that may even be worse than what occurred in France.

“I have always defended Charlie Hebdo. There can be no debate on freedom of expression, never,” former French Prime Minister François Fillon said. Although he says there cannot be a debate on that freedom, there are still many debates over the limitations, or lack thereof. While freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right, there are those who believe that we should still censor ourselves. There is a difference between using and abusing a right. There is a time and a place for certain things, and we need to know when it is acceptable to express ourselves.
Our right to express ourselves is often used, and sometimes taken for granted. We do things, say things, and create things without giving a second thought about whom it will affect. We scrutinize what people, such as celebrities and politicians, do and say. They have to watch what they say and be ready for any backlash, because we as a people are responsible for what happens in their careers by our responses. In that way, we are forcing them to edit their language.

If we take away their right to freedom of speech to please ourselves, how are we entitled to that same freedom that we, in a sense, took away? On a daily basis, we judge based on our actions and words. For school and work, many people have to refrain from saying and doing things that are socially unacceptable, or face consequences. So we repress ourselves and deny the freedom of speech so we can learn or make a living. Correct or incorrect, we do not exercise our freedom of speech for the sake of fitting into standards set by society. Since we know that some things are not suitable for outside of our homes, we censor ourselves for the better. Yes, we have freedom of speech. What matters is how we use it.

Limitations are not necessary

Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical cartoon, was recently subject to a tragic terrorist attack because of their “offensive” content to radical Muslims. The attack killed eleven and injured eleven others; yet what was injured moreso is the hearts of the Parisian people. An air of tragedy enveloped the nation and the world; arising solely out of one group’s expression of free speech.
This event sparked the question in media outlets across the globe: “Who’s at fault? Where does free speech end?”
It’s been said that one man’s rights end where another begin. Yet, true as that may be, we must look at the very definition of the term “rights”. One must look at the fact the free speech has always been legal while murder is universally recognized as crime. It is absurd to justify murder and close off outlets to free expression.
Historically, the two ideas go hand in hand. Offensive free speech does not cause violence and murder in the long run, but promotes peace and freedom. Without the expression of free speech that sparked the Revolutionary War, we would have still been under the oppression of the British government.
In 1948, the UN recognized free speech as a human right in the International Declaration of Human Rights. What’s moreso, it’s a concept that has been around since 1215 A.D. with the signing of the Magna Carta.

Free speech promotes human rights and empowers justice and liberty.

Benjamin Franklin once said, ”Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Democracy must stand bold in the face of oppression.

Free speech should never be limited in fear of such atrocities. Limitations only serve to empower radical groups, which only serves to create more problems.