Free Speech Vs. Freedom Of Expression

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This paper explores the topic of freedom of expression. An important distinction to note is the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Freedom of speech constitutes any form of speech, this could include a statement that could be oral or written. Freedom of expression encompasses freedom of speech, it is an individual’s right to express their ideas freely through speech, writing and other communicative forms like comics, posters etc. In this paper, I will argue in favor of Scanlon’s Millian Principle; proving it is the most broadminded approach to the complex issue of freedom of expression- striking the perfect balance of preventing harm by appealing to an individual’s autonomy and preventing the censoring of opinions,…show more content…
These harms are: (a) harms to certain individuals which consist in their coming to have false beliefs as a result of those acts of expression; (b) harmful consequences of acts performed as a result of those acts of expression, where the connection between the acts of expression and the subsequent harmful act consists merely in the fact that the act of expression led the agents to believe (or increased their tendency to believe) these acts to be worth performing” (Scanlon. 213). We can see the influence of Mill’s Harm Principle which states that the only justification for intervening or restricting the actions of an individual is to prevent harm to others (Mill. 94). Another important concept is Scanlon’s description of the interests of the various stakeholders in the right to expression; these incudes participant interests which is to speak to and bring something to the attention of a wide audience, audience interests include…show more content…
In 2011 and 2015 French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo fell victim to two seperate terrorist attacks because of cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammad, some comics even featuring nude caricatures of the prophet. The French Foreign Minister questioned whether the freedom of expression was undermined. According to the Millian Principle this publication is acceptable, at worse it violated Scanlon’s 3rd form of harmful speech- making Muslims and Prophet Muhammad an object of ridicule, but considering the worst possible consequence; this cartoon didn’t even incite anti-Islamic sentiment. Charlie Hebdo and their employees were on the receiving end of a shooting and bombing – in the end the employees were autonomous and knew what they were signing up for by inciting this reaction. This doesn’t mean that I justify the retaliation by the Islamist gunmen, that was another kind of violation by itself; which the government would have intervened to stop should they have had the opportunity. Rather it is to bring attention the second part of the Millian principal; specifically, the part about the agents judging whether the act was ‘worth performing’.
To the Millian Principle, I would suggest adding a ‘historical element’, where actions such are these are judged according to historic consequences and trends. Using the Charlie Hebdo example, the agents should
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