In the past few weeks, the subject of free speech has become a central issue. The focus has primarily been about the tradeoffs of free speech compared to the safety of those who may be on the receiving end of that speech. In a democratic society, the privilege of free speech is at the top of the list and is among the most cherished privileges human beings enjoy within a democratic society. Yet there is a danger that can come with free speech, depending upon the words that are spoken. As the Human Civilization Reformation Coalition, we feel that exploring this subject and finding the right balance is a dire necessity for humanity to build a better global human civilization.
What is free speech though? In the most simplistic explanation, it is the ability to express any thought that a human being may have. The ways in which we express our free speech is continually evolving, so in turn, this freedom can be seen through art, literature, social media posts, or just plainly in the conversations had between one human being and another. In a free democratic world, this seems like a no brainer in terms of privileges that must be extended to all of humanity.
Depending on the type of speech you assume human beings may be having, which is based on your perception of reality, then you may assume the things that human beings are looking to express themselves about poses no harm to any other human being. Whether or not we are conscious of the darker reality that can exist within human thought and discourse, we must understand that not all speech will adhere to the moral and ethical standpoints of this coalition or of any well-minded human being who has a general respect for their fellow human beings regardless of any external characteristic.
One may ask, regardless of the disturbing nature of some human being’s thoughts and conversations, how can speech be dangerous? Before exploring how speech can be dangerous though, it is important to note some details that distinguish our viewpoint on free speech as the Human Civilization Reformation Coalition. First, it is important to understand that there are always two roles involved in the expressions of free speech. These two roles include the originator of the speech and the recipient of the speech. While these two roles can be fulfilled by one person, generally found when a human being first conceives a thought that they want to express, eventually, there will be at least two different human beings involved, one to fulfill each role.
The second item that we must note is that all forms of free speech expression, regardless of the message conveyed, will impact both the originator as well as the recipient. Of course, the previously held perceptions and beliefs of the human beings fulfilling both the roles of the originator and recipient will dictate to a certain degree the impact that one will experience from an expression of free speech. What sort of impact does speech have on a human being?
The best way to categorize the impact is based on short-term and long-term impacts. Within the short-term, expressions of free speech can cause a very reactionary response from the recipient. Generally, for most human beings this reaction is going to be based out of an emotional response to the expression of free speech being made. The short-term impact of a free speech expression will detail how one is made to feel about the subject being spoken. It is important to note though, that a human being’s reaction will also be indicative of their personality traits. For example, two human beings could hear the same expression of free speech being made, and feel the same emotionally about the subject, yet display their emotion differently.
Past the short-term impact, which as we have detailed can usually be measured by the reactions and response of the recipient, we have the long-term impact of the expression of free speech. Long-term impacts are the unseen perceptions that are built from an expression of free speech, especially those that are sustained over periods of time. As the Human Civilization Reformation Coalition, we have detailed before the connection between our experiences in existence and the beliefs and perceptions we hold of reality. As we experience overlapping expressions of free speech over time, the reality that we perceive to be true is also being altered according to the input gathered from the expressions of free speech. Within this ability to alter a human being’s reality lies the danger of free speech.
In the last 5 years alone, we have seen plenty of examples across our global human civilization that have shown the stunning power of how speech can alter the reality of a human being, and cause them to undertake certain actions that they more than likely would not have done so otherwise. While this is not the place for a journalistic review of these stories, there are plenty of lives that have been lost in a relatively recent timeframe due to the radicalization of speech that has spurred others to take action. These are real-life examples of how speech can impact us, not only as individual human beings but holistically as a species as well. That in itself is the danger of free speech. When expressions of free speech that do not respect the privileges of existence for any specific group of human beings are shouted as loud as possible in an echo chamber, then we see cultural alterations that will be disruptive to the positive progression of the human species.
With the dangers of free speech now understood, we turn to potential solutions for how we proceed as a society. As with many elements of existence, the answer lies in finding the right balance, and the question of how we proceed to provide humanity the ability to express themselves freely without those expressions turning deadly for society. First, it is important to understand that the dangers of free speech are truly felt in the long-term impacts. The more a state of mind, train of thought, or ideology is allowed to exist without proper examination and open space for potential criticism than the higher potential for ill-advised ideas to thrive. Though there is no perfect solution and we will never be able to eliminate the existence of echo chambers, as a species we will have a better opportunity to hear those who are disenfranchised by ideologies that inspire heinous actions if we have an established ability for free speech.
This is not to be mistaken as sympathetic to those who use free speech as a disguise for intolerant beliefs, rather as a strategy to uncover those who are the originators of free speech expressions inspired by intolerant beliefs. Only in a society with access to free speech will we be able to more easily identify those who fall within these mindsets. As we know, just because a society outlaws an activity does not mean that will stop some of the citizens of that society from indulging in said outlawed activity. Due to this fact that has been displayed countless times throughout human history, it should only be natural for us to find ways to better regulate rather than try a method of restriction. Through a process of appropriate regulation, we can then hold those human beings appropriately accountable for the expressions of free speech made that have come to be found inappropriate.
This leads us to the final piece of the discussion of balancing both free speech and the safety of those that may be the target of other human being’s expressions of free speech. Though philosophically we are all guided by principles that we subjectively determine as good or bad, as the Human Civilization Reformation Coalition we have detailed a set of philosophies that we believe could be a foundation to a free speech code of conduct.
If you are interested in learning more about the Human Civilization Reformation Coalition’s guiding principles and doctrines, please use the links below to read up on the previous Thoughts from the Coalition blog posts that explain in further detail.
Until next time, I am Jeff McCarty and I just want to thank you for your time in reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share this with someone you think would enjoy it. Find the Human Civilization Reformation Coalition on Facebook for more content as well. Looking forward to seeing you next post. Thanks again.