No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you are allowed to voice your opinion, whatever that may be. It’s everyone’s right to express their views orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of one’s choice. This is Freedom Of Speech And Expression. I ask myself now, am I really allowed to say whatever I want, whatever is on my mind?
Yes, it is legal for newspapers to write about political situations in whatever way they desire . Yes, on social media, noone is forced to hold back one’s opinion. Yes, I am allowed to stand in the city’s square and scream out my outlook on life. Will I though? Will everyone accept everyone’s point of view on social media? Will the local newspaper ever write badly about one particular political party? I think not. Freedom Of Speech might be legal on paper, but human beings have the actual freedom in their hands. It’s the laws that declare Freedom Of Speech, it’s the people that condemn it.
It would be socially unacceptable to tell Barbara that her dress looks aweful in front of the whole class. It would be socially unacceptable to stand on the beach in California and let everyone know you support Donald Trump. It would be socially unacceptable to advise a student to leave school because you’ve noticed how hard classes are for him.
I am allowed, but wouldn’t do any of those things. Either because I do not want to hurt a person’s feelings or because I’m scared of how others would react. I do not criticise the idea of Freedom Of Speech, but the false belief it would actually work. It can’t, it cannot work. Noone with a hint of social knowledge will do such a thing as tell the truth, their opinion, especially if the truth could hurt not only someone else, but your own social status.
For me, the term “Freedom of speech and expression” is just another way of being politically correct. The law states that everyone is allowed to express their feelings without being judged, so ultimately that’s exactly what’s going on. Even if it’s not at all. It says so on paper, doesn’t matter what’s happening in actual daily life. I cannot hope for change, since change is in the hands of human beings, and the human race is what put us in such a situation. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell Barbara that I don’t like her dress without having to use phrases like “It’s just my opinion, don’t be mad at me” or “good for you if you like it, you do you” to make it less hurtful, even though it is indeed just my opinion.
Addendum: Religion and sexuality are two topics that have become less and less talked about in public, should they get a waver? I don’t think religion, sexuality or even race should be excluded from Freedom of Speech. There should be, and in Austria there is, a law forbidding false accusations, especially if they are simply based on religion, race or sexuality, but whatever wants and needs to be said, should be.
Speaking of Austria, in our country Freedom Of Speech is a basic rule, I’m not sure how well it is practiced though. I, for example, have indeed held back comments knowing they would lead to nothing and would just make me less popular with fellow classmates. I have been in situations where I’ve said my opinion out loud, and had not thought my actions through, resulting in accusations of being mean and socially incompetent. I don’t have anything to say about the political side of Freedom of Speech in Austria, I just know, that being a Trump supporter for example, wouldn’t have made me any more popular. (And to be correct, but not at all scared of any consequences : I do not support Donald Trump)
The point is, I don’t think Freedom Of Speech will ever turn out to be the way it’s supposed to be : Everyone can say whatever they want and noone will be offended by their comment, but will only learn from it. A good friend of mine once ranted on about how everyone should be aloud to say whatever they desire, and if people don’t like that, then they should just “bury themselves”. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works.