What is free speech...?
What is free speech…?
Kate Smurthwaite is a comedian and activist. katesmurthwaite.co.uk. @Cruella1
Raif Badawi is a blogger in Saudi Arabia. On 1 September he lost his final appeal. He was convicted of insulting Islam. He will be in prison for 10 years and have 1,000 lashes.
I think I do 10 things every day that insult Islam. Bacon sandwiches, vodka, shouting ‘Islam isn’t true’. Then I have breakfast.
Badawi’s ‘crimes’ were from his blog. The internet is a problem for religions. You can say that your god is all-powerful and then you give your important messages through your prophets and on stone tablets. But everyone knows you can speak to more people on a Twitter. We need to do more to protect free speech. But we need to understand what it is or what it is not.
It’s not there to help you win an argument. When a male politician says rape victims are asking for it, women are angry. But people tell the women to be silent because ‘he has a right to free speech’! Stopping people from speaking in the name of free speech is not right. Free speech doesn’t mean you can say things without consequences. If you say the wrong thing, you can lose your job and your relationship. Those consequences are fair but prison sentences and terrible punishment are not.
The media has free speech but it must not publish lies or hate speech. The media is not very good at this. For example, the most popular papers have some very strange ideas about women. The same is true for people who think free speech means they have the right to teach creationism in school science classes. You can stand in the street all day and talk about creationism. It still isn’t true and it still isn’t science.
And then there is the problem of the difference between free speech and threats, hate speech, and abuse. I get a lot of rape and death threats myself. No-one should have these threats.
Free speech is a difficult problem. You don’t have to agree with me but you have to respect my right to say what I think. But Raif Badawi’s case is very simple. It is very, very, unjust. There are protests outside Saudi Embassies on Fridays at the same time as the lashes they are giving him. Please join us and help: #raifbadawi and #freeraif
NOW READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://newint.org/columns/2014/11/01/free-speech/
(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed.)