Free Speech?

November 15, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

free speech


Hazel Speed

We are blessed, in the main, that we still have a ‘controlled measure’ of free speech in the UK.

I say ‘measure’ and ‘controlled’ for the following reasons:

As an older person, I have lived through so many changes in the UK. Not all for the better.

Each generation works hard so that their children can grow up to live a more successful life than that of their parents.

In the 20th century the First and Second World Wars brought with them hardships, young teenagers becoming men and women overnight. Money was hard to come by and there were other wars in different locations, in addition to ongoing, as we know.

There is nothing wrong in hoping that one’s own children never have to live through another world war. There is a dichotomy though, in that if there were to be another world war, it would no doubt be nuclear, which is why the nations of the world strive to get on as far as possible. Of course we know of terrorist-led exceptions.

With hardships of historical past comes maturity, and Socrates infers we only become virtuous through living (by emulating), the life of a virtuous person, as virtue cannot be taught.

Plato tells us we recognise virtue in others who are virtuous, because we have viewed it before (i.e. prior to birth, in another existence – pre-birth).

So really, the dilemma is that through suffering, or recognising and emulating elements that are virtuous in others, can we learn virtue?

Consequently, if young generations are protected from so many concepts, views, experiences of certain discussions, and thankfully are spared from real suffering known by young people of former generations, then obviously that is to be sought, but how then do they acquire virtue if they do not have hardships? How do they recognise it in others if they do not know what it is?

I do not have the same type of free speech as I once would have had, as now, though I may say something in an innocent way as I once could within my generation, it may offend someone in this day and age. So something is wrong about that in principle.

What of my rights to my free speech? We see TV programmes of former days and current generations express horror as to the ‘norm’ of those times.

Historical age groups never had what current equivalent children and teenagers now have – £5 was often a week’s wage for young employed and of course, there was no internet, indeed many were working at the age of 15, giving most of their earnings as board money to their parents, being a contribution towards food and electricity, etc.

These days older people have to be careful what expressions they can use in conversation as they could actually be arrested, yet really what they say is metaphorically akin to using a foreign language rather than any offensive tool.

Imagine if you, the reader, are told one day in the future that you are not permitted to use the terms and expressions which you presently use?

Against the above issues, we now learn of Universities having a dilemma relating to ‘safe spaces’ or ‘no platforms’ lest it causes offence. Such a stance can be exploited for the very purposes it aims to avoid.

The link herein is an excellent debate on the issues and related dilemmas. These are important aspects for the University students of today.

My degree was in Philosophy and I cannot see how such a subject can be debated with a metaphorical arm tied behind one’s back.

I always cleaved to the pre-Socratic Philosopher Protagoras who advocated – (broadly speaking) ‘let him with the better argument persuade the other’.

The problem for that, though, is that not many people can debate about anything as their passions overcome reason and discussion.

True debate should ‘suspend’ one’s own beliefs whilst their constituent elements are rationalised and verified or challenged with reasonable counter-arguments if any justifiable ones exist.

Where there are no longer natural hardships as there were in former generations, then how else can virtue be learned when it cannot be taught, and therefore, in turn, be recognised in others?

That is the circular question so what then is the answer?









Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing stages of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: She has also written an E-novel, ‘Just Suppose…!‘ which is available via the attached link.

Art sites:

1 Comment

  1. P C K PREM November 15, at 12:47

    Again a wonderful piece of writing. If you think, the conclusion would have societal ramifications. So good Ms Hazel. Thanks.


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