Friday, October 27, 2006

Stand up for freedom of speech

"I think, therefore I am."
René Descartes (1596-1650)

Today's column was supposed to deal with the potential weakness of Iraqi's federalism, but today is quite a special day. Indeed, as I'm surfing on the net, I can see that Amnesty International is exhorting all bloggers "to stand up for freedom ahead of world meeting on future of Internet". Thus, I'm joining the bloggers who, just like me, believe in the legitimacy of freedom of speech not only on Internet, but also in the world.

As Westerners, we often take for granted that our way of life values individual freedom of speech. However, some countries of our civilization (that I'm not going to name) exert a subtely coercive pressure on their citizens. Is this normal? No. Hopefully, we don't live in China, Vietnam, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Cuba (other countries can be named).

To a certain extent, a government can lay on its population a collective way of life in order to maintain the law in order. Furthermore, the maintenance of the law and order evidently aims to create a civilly coherent society. However, an act that aims to restrict freedom of speech is absolutely condemnable. No government has the right to impose something that it regards as an axiom.

As French philosopher René Descartes said it, a human being is defined by its capacity to think on his/her own. Therefore, it is totally absurd that a government tells to its population how to think, because human beings are just so different. In fact, subjectivity is the core element of our own identity. Every single person on earth has a specific way to judge and criticize things.

Obviously, the notion of freedom of speech implies that no matter what an individual does, says or writes, they're solely responsible of their own opinion. Never am I suggesting that we live in a society in which every agrees with each other. As a matter of fact, even though an opinion can polarize a society, it's clear that our freedom of speech can only be maintained through a civilized dialog between someone who upholds a specific opinion and those who don't concur with this opinion.

The access to freedom of speech is above all a right. Never shall freedom of speech be granted as a privilege. It is something that you fundamentally possess without paying for it. In fact, in comparison with most things that you see, no financial consuming power is required to feel free to express any given opinion. Buying a car and criticizing something are two different things. All in all, the only thing that you need to do to express an opinion is to use your judgement and your own analysis. These are things that come from your desire to express your personal sentiment; not from your wallet, mind you.

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