Thursday, March 09, 2006

Freedom of speech may not be necessary

"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."
- Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, founder of existentialism (1813-1855)

This quote is loaded with meaning and implication.

If you ask most people why they believe that freedom of speech should be a right, their answer is to stumble through a bit of confusion that amounts to "because others told me it should be a right."

In many parts of the world freedom of speech is not a right. People in those cultures proceed through their lives much as those in countries that grant the right. In other words, few people miss freedom of speech unless they are told that they don't have it and they should have it.

As Kierkegaard said, if you don't take the trouble to think, you have no need for freedom of speech because you have nothing of value for others to listen to.

But, you cry, I think! OK, when? Thinking requires time and enough of a settled environment around you that you can ignore everything else to think about what you want.

Thinking requires you to sit and "do nothing." But, you reply, I don't have time to sit and do nothing.

Point made. That's why Kierkegaard says that you would not miss freedom of speech if you lost it.

Any thinking that is done in the midst of other things that are happening is merely regurgitation of what someone else has already thought before you.

If you simply repeat what someone else has thought before you, then you don't need freedom of speech. The person before you does.

Think about it. Yup, that's what I said.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to give people a reason to need freedom of speech.
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