There have been a number of developments recently which I feel are quite worrying in relation to what we once knew as a right to free speech.
The age of political correctness has hopefully come to an end following the demise of 13 years of socialist (nanny-state) government in the UK. I say this with a degree of hope that we are now living in a free society where it is acceptable to express one’s opinions, beliefs and views knowing that they may be agreed with by some, assented to by others and denigrated or counteracted and argued against by another group of people.
Within this framework we know there must still be boundaries, as J.S. Mills argued, total freedom would lead to anarchy and one person’s total freedom leads to the enslavement or imprisonment of other people.
We now live in a strange world where a large swathe of people have freedom to express themselves via the internet, press, radio and TV, but there are parts of the world where people are denied such freedom, for example, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and China. In North Korea only Government officials (very few) and Higher Education professionals are granted free access to the internet and it only gives them access to approved sources, probably little or nothing outside N. Korea. In China there is a firewall which we all know about, and within the last day or so their equivalent of Twitter is supposedly down for maintenance. I wonder how long that maintenance will last? I am unaware of the current situation in Iran, but I guess Twitter, Facebook and other Social media are scrutinised by the authorities and their ‘misuse’ can lead to political imprisonment if the regime is painted in a bad light by ‘dissident’ voices.
I believe we are truly privileged to be able to ‘freely’ express our thoughts and views in the ways we do, but I wonder sometimes how much longer we will have the opportunity to do so. I think we need to make the most of the freedom we have while it lasts and hope and pray that those parts of the world where they don’t possess such a privilege will one day become free and able to stand up for their views and beliefs in the same way.