Is ‘Freedom of Speech’ a Commons?


In the last 10 years or so, we have seen an  influx of reality shows, blog sites, and general social media flooding the internet and TV and influencing our youth. We claim it is ‘our right’ to publish and air what we like, as it would be a breach of ‘freedom of speech’ to be told ‘no’. This freedom has given many people around the world a voice and a way to express their feelings, thoughts, and beliefs and has brought people together, helped educate the world and has exposed many injustices. But has this ‘freedom’ gone too far? Look at basic reality TV shows such as The Real WorldTeen Mom , Honey Boo Boo Child , and the Bachelor(ette)– they advocate ‘bitchiness’, racy behaviour, questionable parenting skills, poor health habits, and unrealistic approaches to relationships. Yet when children see these shows they see that these behaviours have led to fame, fortune, popularity and love with little to no repercussions; the shows are popular conversation topics and the ‘stars’ can be seen as role models. Beyond just TV shows, the need for responsible use extends to the individual level through our use of social media. For example, I had a co-worker once who posted some very racist comments in her very public blog regarding her views on the students she was working with as well as the culture she was living in, she did it all in the name of ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘pure journalism’ and did extensive damage among the student population and community. The examples are endless, but the end point being that there is a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate, but where is it and who makes it? Shouldn’t we want to expose our youth, the future of our world, to realistic and uplifting media rather than promoting potentially confusing or damaging influence which could hinder the intellectual and moral development of future generations? Has ‘freedom of speech’ moved from a commons (with rules, expectations, and limits) to a ‘do-as-you-will free-for-all’? Shouldn’t there be a set of rules, guidelines, and expectations for individuals to follow and be made accountable to? How can we find that fine balance between appropriate and inappropriate in a world where multi media and expression is seen as an entitlement and not a privilege and responsibility?


5 Responses to “Is ‘Freedom of Speech’ a Commons?”

  1. mktkwad Says:

    Interesting discussion.

  2. u0953238 Says:

    I agree freedom of the speech is a commons. I am content with it as long as the information reaches the intended recipient without causing ‘criminal injeria’.

  3. sdiederichs Says:

    I totally agree with you, freedom of speech is a commons, but I believe that the big confusion is in the word “freedom” as it implies a total lack of restrictions (or enclosures). We should have rules (and I believe there are some), but with the broad range of communicative tools we have today evolving at such a fast pace, it must be very difficult to enforce them. As you say, freedom of speech has brought us many many good things, but it has also brought some very offensive material which is all around us. When it is not racial or violent, it is sexual. Look at most ads, music videos, TV shows like Geordie Shore as well as video games. It is shocking but unfortunately, it sells big time.. I believe that the sexual pressure put on girls resulting from some of the media and the music industry is immense and yes, criminal. Look at the images, listen to the lyrics. Shocking… It is the reason why now young people “sext” and which has led to suicides. So I would ask u0953238, what do you define as “criminal injury”? And I ask all of us, what are we going to do about it? I believe that part of the solution is being a responsible parent/sibling, as is lobbying for stricter rules on racial abuse, violence and sexual content in all of the media, but especially on the music industry which has such a huge influence on the young population.

  4. u1059279 Says:

    Communality has lost it’s values even our neighbours we don’t known.Is it because of our style of living?

  5. jpriyarollins85 Says:

    Thanks for all the responses, it’s great to see that this had made people think about and question this ‘freedom’ we hold so dearly.

    In response to u0953238- I would say, do we really want to wait until a comment or a publication crosses the line of ‘criminality’ before addressing the issue? Isn’t the point of the ‘commons’ to avoid ever getting to that stage where something is deemed ‘criminal’? And not waiting until society is sitting on the fence between healthy sustainability and intellectual malfunction?

    To Sabine- I completely agree with you, so much these days does lie with the parent/families to educate our youth in regards to what is reasonable and appropriate and what is too much. But I also feel that this argument is what these programs rely on…. the producers claim that it is the parent’s fault for letting their children read/watch/write certain things or that they don’t talk to their children about the difference between fantasy and reality. But my question is, should all the blame rest with the parent? What about those who don’t have a parental figure to talk to? Shouldn’t the producers/publishers also be held accountable?

    To u1059279- Yes, I think much of this has to do with our style of living, we are living more and more in a individualistic and independent world which has slowly stopped people from being able to leave their small bubble and personal interests/gains and see how what they do effects so many people/things around them. But on a brighter side, there are so many people who have been realizing this and have started questioning and rising against such media. There is hope!

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