I start off the lesson by sharing that I am going to read them three short articles about the freedom of speech. I share that their objective is to listen and think about what the benefits and dangers are for having of freedom of speech.
I now share the first article Pros and Cons of Freedom of Speech. I stop and think aloud that I am hearing some positives - freedom to be creative and not fearful of sharing what I feel and some negatives - hateful rumors, bullying and threats.
I then share the other two articles Freedom of Speech and Thought and Freedom of Speech is a Privilege that can be Revoked aloud and think aloud that it sounds like the government is considering whether or not they should add consequences for using hurtful or untruthful words - I add that I wonder who would decide what was lying and what was just the opposite opinion?
My purpose is for students to think about both what they have been warned and what they experienced to debate if we should have more censors or consequences for untruthful words?
I now have students count off into groups of three. I give each number the corresponding reading passage. These passages are a bit longer than I had hoped for but I made adjustments by initially reading it aloud, with groupings (strong with weaker readers) and with timing by adding an additional 10 minutes added to the lesson. Their group structure should also allow for a higher level of understanding after their shared discussions. I lead them with the guiding question - What are the benefits of freedom of speech? and then ask them What are the risks or dangers? I want to lead them to thinking about the internet and of people who share their opinions without getting all the correct information (gossiping or other harmful talk). We make a list of the pros and cons of being able to say what we want freely.
Here's my groups reading quietly and taking notes
I share that students are going to get the opportunity to create written notes that either support or debate our right to freedom of speech.
In this video the groups of three are discussing their articles and sharing their opinions. This helps those who are struggling to hear more ideas and to form opinions. It also gives students good practice for speaking aloud in a small group format before they need to share in a whole class one.
They are informed that they will use their facts and opinions to debate in a socratic seminar debate when the timer sounds.
I set the timer and have students read and discuss their findings together until the timer sounds.
Freedom of speech is something that is authorized to every person. No matter rich or poor, young or old, every person holds different opinion and it’s their right to express it. The definition of Freedom of speech is that every person has the right to express his/her opinion without the fear of government or society. This is why it is said ‘Speech is not limited to public only’. Being individuals, we are all different. We all possess different ideas, tastes and thinking. Freedom of speech is something like freedom of thoughts. If we are comfortable with each other’s freedom of thoughts like ‘every person has the right to follow his thoughts, conscience’ then why we hate when someone express their ideas or opinions despite the fact that opinions are just opinions, never right or wrong.
From today’s society, the only answer that can be considered satisfactory is that we have changed the definition of ‘freedom of speech’. We have changed our way of expressing ideas. We have become intolerant especially on the social media where we all act like having a furious debate and desperate to win it. I have myself seen a lot many cases like this, when someone does not like someone else’s article, they just start commenting criticism and disparage others by expressing their thoughts with the belief that only they are accurate. This self-centered attitude starts a never ending debate which spread nothing else but sectarianism, hatred, abhorrence and hostility.
This is why it is said ‘freedom of speech should be limited now a days’. It’s actually the reason behind needless fights when a person wants to prove his opinion right at any coast. Basically it means that now a day people insult each other for holding different opinions from them. ‘Hatred takes energy’ so why waste our energy on proving ourselves right by insulting others. Instead we should accept and respect other’s opinions and move on.
Freedom of speech is every being’s fundamental right but unfortunately, today, some people are using it to propagandize aggressiveness, intolerance and enmity. Every person should be given right to express but before expressing; it’s their responsibility to have set some limits.
Charlie Hebdo’s act which was given name of ‘freedom of speech’ was in fact a freedom to insult according to Muslim community. They published the cartoons of a highly revered personality in Islam; Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).This act is not only forbidden in Islam but also caused many Muslims to suffer emotional pain and resentment at such an open exhibition of hatred in the name of freedom of expression.Ironically the same magazine, in 2008, fired one of its cartoonists for publishing ‘anti-Semitic’ statement. On the other hand, this is also true that it has the past of issuing cartoons or articles that mock other religions. Prophet (PBHUH) is the central figure of Islam and Muslims love and respect him more than themselves, their parents and their children. Nobody likes it when some person mocks or criticizes them or their families, then how can the magazine name it ‘freedom of speech’ by cartooning a sacred human in an improper way. This defamation of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) caused indignation among many young Muslims who felt alienated at the spread of hate speech in the name of ‘freedom of expression’. Although the terrorist attack on the magazine is equally condemnable and cannot be justified in any case. But, had the magazine exhibited some responsibilities in the usage of ‘freedom of expression’ this world would have escaped a horrific terror attack.
Talking and doing are two contrasting things. No one has the mastery to change what’s in your mind but problem arise when you act on it and enforce your opinions on others. The way Charlie Hebdo chooses to express which they called their ‘opinion’ was totally wrong and unacceptable by Muslims.
Let’s take another present example in front of us. Donald Trump, a famous name and Republican Presidential candidate of 2016 presidential elections of the USA, is notorious for his racial remarks. He refused to rent homes to black people, he refuses to condemn the violence against Muslim Americans and African-Americans executed by his supporters, he asks to ban Muslims from America, he mocks Chinese and Japanese for their heritage and English. Irony is his supporters label it all as ‘freedom of speech’ but in actual it is his loathing that contains no limits.
I am not arguing that we should curtail the right of ’freedom of speech’. I espouse the fact that one should have complete liberty to describe ideas and opinions as ideas breed innovation and progress. On the other hand it is equally wrong to spread hatred, to malign and defame fellow human beings in the name of freedom of speech.
Just as the right to hold a licensed gun does not grant someone a license to shoot a human being, it is the responsibility of the gun holder to use it with extreme care, similarly the right of ‘freedom of expression’ should be practiced carefully so that we may not spread hatred and ignite violence in the society.
I would like to conclude with a prudent remark of J. K. Rowling in her famous book ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’
Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.