Stop Silencing Free Speech

Although their mouths have been taped over or gagged, men and women across the globe still fight. Although they feel trapped in a prison cell built on the fear of thought as the chains of conventionalism rattle at their shackled feet and hands, men and women across the world still fight. These men and women may come off as pugnacious or troublesome in the eyes of officials and uninvolved, disengaged bystanders. However, they must continue attempting to passionately share their faiths, their beliefs, and their truth. For if they do not fight for their right to share, they will never be heard.

People come into this world with a brain to develop their own thoughts, a tongue to share those thoughts, and ears to listen to the thoughts of others. As each fingerprint is unique to an individual, so is the mind of each individual. While this brings diversity into the world and magnificent, new viewpoints, it also raises the question, who is right and who is wrong? In the end, there is no way to truly determine right from wrong, but society found a way. Whoever accumulates the most following must be right, meaning if more adherents accept one concept as correct, then it becomes the social norm. Those who stand for what the majority believes in quickly accumulate power. Unfortunately, once the tiniest taste of authority touches the lips of a man, the fear of losing it begins to cloud the mind. Any threat to their power must be eliminated at all costs, and the easiest way to remove a threat is to silence all opposing views. When the government utilizes censorship as a means of control, to filter and suppress certain ideologies and beliefs from the general public, it becomes a tyrannical abuse of power that strips individuals of their intrinsic rights.

A prime example would be the censorship used by the Soviet Union. My parents grew up in the small country of Czechoslovakia, which was a part of the Eastern Bloc. They learned firsthand the pitfalls of Communism and censorship. There are many riveting and exciting stories of secret, underground concerts or movies they would frequently attend. Nevertheless, one story that always stuck with me was from when my father was in high school. He went to a special aeronautics mechanics school, where he lived in a dorm. While he was there, one of his friends gave him a book. This book was different from anything my father had ever read before in his life. The novel enticed my dad and he swiftly finished it. It was titled Charter 77. This book was the Czechoslovakian equivalent to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Charter 77 criticized the Czechoslovakian government for denying men, women, and children their unalienable rights. Just as Paine’s Common Sense helped provide the spark during the American Revolution, so did Charter 77. Due to the intent of the novel, it was banned and considered a political crime to be caught reading the manifesto. Charter 77 was found among my father’s possessions during a room check. Luckily, the book was taken and he did not get in immense amounts of trouble. However, the member of the staff who had done the search warned him. My father was told that if someone else had discovered the book, he could have been sent to jail, exiled, or even lost his citizenship, simply for reading a document about human rights. When the government threatens the people to not act out or stand up for their beliefs, the government is reaching out of their given realm of power to continue to maintain their power. That abuses the rights of the citizens they swore to protect.

 All people deserve basic human rights; yet, institutions attempt to lessen these rights. The Declaration of Independence was founded and based upon three principles: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The second of these fundamental rights, liberty, was more clearly outlined in the United States (US) Constitution, in the Bill of Rights. The need for liberty and freedom drove the Founding Fathers to take action, to provide the tinder to the spark that later became the raging fire of revolution in the hearts of myriads, and to take back the rights endowed to them by their Creator. Despite this core value that the US has been built upon, laws to diminish the freedom of expression are proposed. On an international scale, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by the United Nations (UN), declares that free speech is a right every man, woman, and child deserves. Despite this proclamation, members of the UN, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Iraq, limit and go to the extent of punishing citizens for expressing themselves. Even though the rights have been clearly outlined, governments choose to ignore these God-given rights.

 Governments strive to censor and silence those who try to speak up, and eventually, the governments will win, unless the freedoms of speech, press, and expression are fought for and protected. Censorship strips people of their livelihood. It is a heinous, greedy act meant to keep power in the hands of the government, and out of the people. Taking away the right to free thought and free speech through censorship would be the same as violently bashing the brain or slicing the tongue from the mouth. 

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