Monday, April 22, 2013

Free Speech Debate

An interesting website, Free Speech Debate has proposed ten draft principles:
  1. We - all human beings - must be free and able to express ourselves, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers.
  2. We defend the internet and all other forms of communication against illegitimate encroachment of public and private powers.
  3. We require and create open, diverse media so we can make well informed decisions and participate fully in political life.
  4. We seek openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.
  5. We allow no taboos in the discussion and dissemination of knowledge.
  6. We neither make threats of violence nor accept violent intimidation.
  7. We respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief.
  8. We are all entitled to a private life but should accept such scrutiny as in the public interest.
  9. We should be able to counter slurs on our reputations without stifling legitimate debate.
  10. We must be free to challenge all limits of freedom of expression and information justified on such grounds as national security, public order, morality, and the protection of intellectual property.
  11. What is missing? What would you propose? Join the global conversation...
Two Canadian cases were considered for the debate:
Cyber bullying that led to suicide and The importance of Braille literacy.

Sadly, the cyber bullying that led to Amanda Todd's suicide is not an isolated event. The recent suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons has reignited concerns of social media use and cyber bullying. Similar cases in the United States have also emerged, bringing a critical need to address such forms of bullying hidden within freedom of speech.   

The case study of Braille literacy poses an interesting question, "If depriving the visually-impaired of access to Braille makes them less literate – and thus, conceivably, less expressive – can this dispute over library funding be cast as a free speech issue?"

International cases of free speech are also examined in this debate, illustrating a global concern for issues in intellectual freedom. 

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