Freedom of Speech: The Right to Offend

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In the wake of recent events, freedom of speech has been widely discussed by everyone – from comedians, to journalists, to celebrities and pretty much every user of social media. As a believer in liberal ideology, freedom of speech is something I will defend and work towards in every aspect of my life. However, there seems to be a disparity between the theory behind freedom of speech and its reality.

I am not a shy or conservative person. I do not sit on the fence or try to be diplomatic when I am talking about my opinions. People can find me abrasive, hostile and rude, because my job will never be to cushion a person’s feelings if they happen to disagree with my opinions. One of the strongest points of my identity is that I refuse to modify who I am for anyone, that I will always speak my mind and never hold my tongue. It is not my problem if someone is offended by my beliefs. But it is my problem if they are hurt.

The point I’m trying to make here is that while freedom of speech is a right, it is also a responsibility. It may be an oversimplification to say that there is a clear distinction between free (offensive) speech and hate speech, because there is no one universal definition of what is harmful, but it is important to note that a truly liberal concept of free speech is not something that will encompass all words and essentially be there to cover your back if you’re a dick. The responsibility of your words rests upon your shoulders.

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