When thinking about the next topic for my blog, I found it difficult to pin down what I really wanted to say. Could I write about this without it coming across as offensive? Could I write about that or had that been done too many times before? It got me thinking about free speech and the place in which anyone can have their say on anything. The place I spend way too much of my time aimlessly scrolling through; Twitter.
If like me, you find out the latest news and trends from Twitter, you will know that it can be a volatile place. It almost feels like a battlefield at times. Never normally one to participate in online debate, I often sit back and watch the arguments unfold over topics such as equality and politics.
This platform gives anyone the chance to voice their opinion but I’m starting to think that the perception of freedom of speech has been skewed. There are so many opinions out there that it can be hard to form your own especially when it comes to topics as crucial as politics. Another example is the #MeToo campaign which is trending on Twitter as a sign of support for people who have experienced sexual abuse or harassment. Whilst this is definitely a good movement to raise awareness, there are others speaking out against it and questioning whether it should exist.
When someone voices their opinion online, we now come to expect the backlash. People who speak about mental health are labelled as whiny and attention seeking, people who speak about equality are labelled the same. You only have to look at the recent Harvey Weinstein case to see that those affected had no freedom of speech otherwise they would risk losing everything.
There were countless other things I saw online in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein case breaking which made me sigh and feel sad that freedom of speech has been twisted beyond recognition. James Corden making a joke about Harvey Weinstein was one of them. Of course, Twitter was outraged. Something others may not have seen as a result of this case was an article in The Telegraph about feminism and ‘living in Harvey Weinstein’s world’. I don’t normally read articles like that but it was mentioned by a few bloggers on Twitter so I thought I’d give it a read.
Personally, I didn’t see much wrong with it but the bloggers on Twitter completely disagreed. It made me wonder if the woman who wrote the article was regretting her words because of the backlash from it. Freedom of speech is one of our most basic rights in this country but it’s being abused. How can we expect to voice our opinion if others constantly belittle it and tear our views apart?
This is why people are scared to talk about their mental health and why there is such a big stigma surrounding it. Maybe the backlash against freedom of speech is also why politics is so often frowned upon in our country because with all that information and the way the media manipulate the truth, who knows what the real story is?
Freedom of speech should mean speaking the truth. It should mean equality and acceptance of every person in society no matter what their background or beliefs are. The vast majority of people want this and do this already. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak the truth but there is a fine line between freedom of speech and libel. Lies spread like wildfire thanks to social media and that negativity is what pulls society down.
As long as we an speak the truth without slandering certain groups or people then there will be less of a stigma around difficult topics such as mental health, grief and equality. Not everyone is going to deal with and view these topics in the same way but that’s where just accepting that it’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it, is the way forward.
Do you think the concept of freedom of speech has been skewed?