Freedom of expression is a very crucial concept in today?s times and has been in full force around many parts of the world in the twenty first century. It is at the heart of journalism and reporting and is also held dear in private and public circles as it is a harbinger of debate and provides the intermingling of diverse ideas. It furthermore allows criticism of status quo and analysis that could be the spark for change and a possibly better society. Thus it can be said that freedom of expression is a useful concept that serves humanity very well. As Voltaire put it "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." (Cooray) Freedom of expression plays a significant role first of all; in making the decision making process that affects the masses, better and more impartial.
This is because it results in all representative views being considered and the creative instincts of the learned among the masses can help governments make good decisions and individual organizations perform well (Cooray). This collection of thought and its criticism involves multiple minds and allows viewing things from angles previously not brought into consideration. It is also very important for the electoral process in the countries of this modern era. As public figures are being elected to represent the views of their constituencies and previous and existing governments have to be analyzed for their performance, it requires an unbiased viewing of their policies and transparent and open commentary.
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If this is quelled by the government, it may result in oppression and tyranny and the suppression of the rights of the people who would not be able to contest it (Reding). A contrast in this regard can be drawn among the countries in Western Europe and those of the former soviet bloc which experience repression of ideas and went through a surprisingly different era of progress compared to the developed western counterparts. There are disadvantages of this concept as well however. Freedom of expression tends to allow a lot of unessential material to rise up as well. Racist organizations and individuals can exploit such freedoms to incite hatred and loathing among sections of the population. Religious tension may rise on account of insults being hurled at esteemed figures. However, the beauty of this concept is that the other side can use the same rights granted to them to oppose such partial thinking and bring forth their own points and arguments which may be weighed as being more acceptable by the mostly rational public (Panick). Thus considering the role of freedom of expression, it indeed functions as a safety valve in today?
s society (Panick). It provides a unique measure of transparency and a form of regulation of the government?s conduct whereby citizens can criticize them for policies that do not function well and as a result harm the society. By also allowing free ideas to float around, people can debate on the relative advantages and disadvantages of various measures and help siphon out the best which indeed serves decision making well, both at a public and private level. While there is room for exploitation of the freedoms granted as such, this same path can be utilized to counter any exploitation that takes place and reason can be expected to prevail ultimately. This undoubtedly serves the development and well being of humanity in the long run.
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