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Freedom of Expression

  • Date Submitted: 04/29/2014 09:45 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 31 
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reedom of expression has a special status as a human right because we need it to promote and protect all human rights. It embraces free speech, the sanctity of an individual’s opinion, a free press, the transmission and receipt of ideas and information, the freedom of expression in art and other forms, the ability to receive ideas from elsewhere, and even the right to silence. We value freedom of expression because of what it means for us and what it helps us to attain (Rishworth, forthcoming).

Freedom of expression is one of a number of mutually supporting rights (including freedom of thought, of association and of assembly, and the right to vote) and is integral to other civil and political rights, such as the right to justice, and the right to take part in public affairs. Equally, the right to freedom of expression impacts on social and cultural rights such as the right to education.

Debate about freedom of expression is both wide reaching and constantly evolving in response to the development of the human mind, technological innovation and a globalised media, community practices and standards, and political and judicial responses. What is more constant is the fundamental idea that freedom of expression is designed to protect and enhance democratic ideals.

Three overlapping arguments have historically been used to advance the right to freedom of expression: the search for truth; democratic self-government; and automony and self-fulfilment.

Search for truth

The argument based on the search for truth is John Stuart Mill’s idea that open discussion, with competing arguments and ideas, results in the discovery of truth. When all ideas have been freely heard ‘the jury of public opinion will deliver its verdict and pick the version of truth it prefers’ (Hargreaves, 2002, p.302). The metaphor of a ‘market place’ of ideas, which is linked with the search for the truth, has been a powerful influence in applying constitutional guarantees of freedom of...


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