“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”
The ventilation of thoughts arising in the mind without consideration of any restriction from anybody is known as the right to freedom of speech. Right to freedom of speech is a recognized fundamental right. In contemporary world, States ensure these fundamental rights along reasonable restrictions, considering their interest.
Freedom of speech means the right to say openly what you think. It is also called as freedom of expression. It refers not only to verbal speech but any act of communicating ideas and information including publications, broadcasting, art, advertising, film and the internet. In other words, the manifestation of thoughts is freedom of speech, while the legal protection of the manifestation of thoughts is right to freedom of speech.
Right to freedom of speech is the fruit of human struggle against the status quo in its respective era throughout history. Authoritative regimes, whether political or religious seek to deal it with iron hand adopting various means.
Initially freedom of speech was not recognized as right even free speech was treason against the states. The right to freedom of speech was first constitutionally protected by the revolutionary French and American governments of the late eighteenth century. It is recognized today as a fundamental human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Every state of the world is sovereign to design constitution, as the law of land for its population. Internationally all states whether small as Maldives or large as Russia are equal in status. In the contemporary world every state has given freedom of right to speech to its people according to its circumstances of stability.
Freedom of Expression is one of the Fundamental Right, working as the corner stone in the democracy. Democracy without Freedom of Expression is not Democracy. Right to Freedom of Speech in the form of public opinion works as the tool of check and balance in a democratic state. It is freedom of Expression which devises informed public opinion. State organs are regulated because of the said freedom.
Freedom of Press is regarded as the mother of all liberties in a democratic society. A free press works as one of the good interpreters between the Government and the people. It is the mouthpiece of public opinion. It leads society in all its aspects whether political, sociological, religious and economic subjects.
Accountability of the state servants and elected members of assemblies is only possible in the presence of Right to Freedom of Speech. Those who run the state institutions are the custodians of the rights and the resources of the people. So, accountability of the ruling class is not against the freedom of expression within a democratic society.
Every restriction on free speech must pass the test of reasonableness and majority of public interest. But too much restrictions according to paramount religious, cultural or social textures of a society is a paradox of freedom of speech
Right to freedom of speech in the contemporary world, is a perplexing matter for legislative bodies of state. Legislation about freedom of speech is complex and confusing because of several reasons. Freedom of speech means the demonstration and reflection of ideas without consideration of any pressure from the authority holders.
Here it is obvious in the definition that speech independent of any restriction is freedom of speech but we know state is custodian of fundamental rights of its every citizen. State has to provide a status quo ensuring peace and order. Courts function is administration of justice. Every religion has its followers and every race is proud of his genetics. Each person has his own reputation or status. Similarly, every society has its norms and values respected for its people. Now it becomes herculean task for legislatures to derive equilibrium between free speech and realistic necessities, creating a paradox.
It took centuries for human race to develop concept of fundamental rights. Especially Right to freedom of speech is one of the crucial fundamental rights which came into being challenging the status quo throughout its existence against the totalitarian concepts of religion, monarchy, social pressure and currently state. It is right to freedom of speech which brought knowledge to our progressive world. It can bring peace and order on earth if properly this right is endowed according to principals of equity.