We’ve come a long way thanks to controversial opinions being expressed. We’ve created a more equal society in terms of race and gender differences. Our society is more individualist today than ever before; we allow people to express themselves without excluding them from society. We are still far from perfect, but thanks to controversial opinions and tolerance - we’ve reached a lot. I’d even say - too much.
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is a universal human right, adopted in 1948, which states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The problem is that this is where most people stop reading the entire right to free speech, which comes with limitations.
And while I am in favor of freedom in speech, we should never forget that universal freedom of speech - is dangerous. When people think they are entitled to universal freedom of speech, we get Holocaust denial, Armenian Genocide denial, flat earth believers etc.
Its very visible nowadays, with COVID-19 pandemic and the Vaccine. People with no medical knowledge, who read a few articles and are now self declared professionals, think that they are entitled to spread, some even very aggressively I must say, their opinion - an opinion that is not based on facts or scientific evidences, and usually border lines as fake or inaccurate, nevertheless they have the right to spread it, without any consequences.
But I believe there should be consequences. Spreading of fake information or information that contradicts scientific knowledge - should have consequences. When a person says, on TV or in front of a crowd, that our earth is flat - he should be responsible for this saying. Responsible if not for the fact of spreading fake information, then at least for the fact that he disregards years of years of scientific experiments, people’s devotion, courage, and sacrifice to prove that our earth is not flat.
So what? You could ask. Someone said something stupid, why it should bother me?
Well it does. It does because we form our opinions based on what we see and hear. I can not personally verify every scientific experiment, be expert in every field and trust no body. I need to trust someone. And when both scientifically proven experiments as well as fake or inaccurate information - get the same stage, have the same power, trust becomes very hard.
You could say that everyone needs to be responsible to what information they consume, and while generally I’d agree, but we outlawed pyramid schemes, we have laws against scam and fraud. Its all done for the same reason - to protect us from people who look trustworthy but in reality are not. Individuals who ask us to exchange goods we own in return for nothing. The same nothing that fake information carries with it. Simply because not everyone can be an expert in every field and humans are also cruel and deceitful.
People hide behind Freedom of Speech and continue to spreading their fake or inaccurate information, because if we ask them to shut up - they are going to shout “Freedom of Speech”, “Equal Rights” or “Tolerance”. But those terms never intended to be used to lie, deceive or manipulate people. They were used to let people express opinions that are not harmful to other human beings.
Next time, before clicking “Share” or “Repost”, stop for a moment and ask yourself - is this information doing any good? Was it proven somehow? Or is it just another couch based president-doctor-human-rights-activist that said something stupid in a very convincing way?