Freedom of Speech
By Aleena Zahid

Freedom of speech is a civil right and most people agree that it is an integral part of democracy. After all, that is what a democracy is. ‘Power to the People,” and that includes freedom of speech.
The difference between free speech and freedom of speech is that the former is the right to be able to express yourself in public without the government being able to do anything about it. Freedom of speech however, is saying or doing whatever you want as long as no dangerous issue (such as the power of the government) is touched.
It is an international right which is given to us in the form of Article 19 in the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The degree to which this is practiced in different countries however, is different.
The United States of America’s First Amendment supposedly gives the right to complete freedom of speech, unless the country decides to forbid something. This means that the charge to decide what is right and what is wrong belongs to the government. In Canada, the responsibility lies with the individual to realize when they have gone too far, (for example, violent speech is illegal as this constitutes as hate speech.) Also, the European Convention on Human Rights assures freedom of speech except under specific circumstances, where they reserve the right to censorship.
Freedom of speech is a very important thing in today’s society. It gives people the power to express their opinions on a subject. Freedom of speech, as long as it is not racist, sexist, or hurtful; helps to spread people’s opinions. These are vital to society because they provide variation. What people say and their opinions are a large part of who they are. In a world where uniqueness and the ability to be different are celebrated, I believe what people think should be celebrated too, as a part of who they are.
It provides tolerance in the form of having to tolerate what other people have to say. Freedom of speech is a great thing when a person uses it for themselves, but the other side of the coin is having to accept and deal with what other people have to say as well, no matter how much you disagree with them.
Last, but not least, it teaches you about other people. It gives you an insight as to what other people think and feel about a certain issue. In this way, a person becomes less ignorant of what other people around them are going through and how they feel. It also shows you the different points of view of an issue; points you may never even have considered before.
I believe that freedom of speech, when used as it should be and not for upsetting purposes, is a good thing. I am glad that I, as a person, have this right as it enables me to express myself without having to worry.

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