The Degradation of Free Speech and Personal Liberty

film-censorship-in-IndiaMany individuals in society claim that they live in a free nation full of individual liberties. North American constitutions such as the ones implemented in the United States and Canada allow for freedom of speech. However, it is evident that the government has implemented and enforced policies to the contrary. There are a plethora of entertainment programs that have strict censorship policies that go against freedom of speech as it disallows, for example, television producers and musicians to use words or phrases that may be offensive directly or indirectly to a person or group. Regardless, if it is possibly offensive to one or many, the U.S. and Canadian constitutions allow for individuals to say very controversial things.

However, restricting one’s freedom of speech in the form of censorship greatly impacts the exchange of ideas that are said to contribute to the (possibly) improvement of society. It is not up to the government to decide what individuals choose to say, read, or hear, and it should not be up to the government to decide what is acceptable within society. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States controls all forms of television broadcasting and claims “it is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to air indecent programming or profane language during certain hours.” It is quite clear that censorship by institutional power is a way to control a society in the sense that it determines what individuals in society can legally say, hear, or read. It is against the majoritarian virtues and values that are constitutionally instilled within a society, and is often paralleled to a form of dictatorship – no matter how miniscule.

These censorships should be entirely up to the broadcasting stations and corporations, as they should determine what they would like to distribute to the public. These government policies enforced by public servants severely interfere with everyday life as individuals cannot fully express their freedom of speech which contradicts their constitutional rights that enabled them to do so. Removing government policies in regards to censorship would greatly improve individual liberty among society as the citizens of the respective government can use their freedom of speech without being controlled by institutional power.

Through the implementation of full individual liberty and protection from institutional powers, this greatly influences personal responsibility. Personal responsibility according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is (1) the concept, or idea, of moral responsibility itself. In today’s society moral responsibility has diminished to a smidgen of what it used to be. Individuals of the state feel that since governance is such a huge part of daily life, that institutional power should be the one that takes responsibility for their actions. The people who live in countries where government is in so much control of their daily life are sacrificing their own freedoms in turn for government obligation to ensure all of its people are meeting a standard. This ideology that people need government to be responsible for them is severely hurting society as individuals lose pride of ownership (e.g. property, own health) because they feel that the government is there to fix a conflict that may occur in their life through their own actions.

Having a strong sense of individual liberty that can be practiced on a daily basis without the direct influence of government can help revert this ideology and allow for society to flourish, prosper and improve in its own way as individuals will care for their actions. The moral ideology of personal responsibility at its maximum capacity also allows for private medical care. There is no need for government control of health services except for at the absolute bare minimum as the state is not responsible for the state of health of its citizens, and is (rather) there with the intent to provide the security for its citizens. Personal responsibility in this sense means that individuals are entirely responsible for their own body and have complete control over what is done with it. In doing so, a moral or personal responsibility regarded by all individuals allows for complete individual liberty to be expressed throughout society and allows for citizens to not be under scrutiny by their elected representatives.

This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Saber Lambert, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC

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