BY GARY LEE
George Washington once said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Freedom of speech was not achieved through effortless means. Countless wars and conflict occurred due to differing opinions to ensure that Americans had the right to freely express themselves; now, with the advent of international technology, the ease of expressing one’s opinions is greater than it ever has been.
For all the things that freedom of expression has achieved, a question arises: when will it do too much?
Of course everyone enjoys free speech, but what they do not realize is the damage that it can cause. One single text about bombs can shut down an entire school, an entire city even. Lies and misinformation run rampant online and there is no form of judgement placed upon those who spread them. No one can ever argue the importance of free speech, but in this day and age the regulations and rules are the ones that need to improve.
In better terms, there should be more restrictions on the spread of nonfactual information, whether it be more digital bans, more protection walls or even harsher punishments. Something needs to be done in order to further ensure the safety of the populus in whatever form they may be.
However, the bigger question is, protection from what? Sure, freedom of opinions can be dangerous, but how dangerous can it be when someone is just sharing their viewpoints and ideals? That process of sharing viewpoints is what makes information fallacy so dangerous. Once someone succeeds in convincing another about an incorrect pointview such as a false conspiracy or outlandish logic, that person would then go on to try and try to convince others, eventually creating a large society that spreads nothing but lies.
For example, with science, a lot of factual information exists online. But when someone holds a viewpoint that is contradictory to science, that is when the danger of misinformation can begin. And, technology only amplifies this problem.
Picture a scenario: a doctor prescribes a certain medicine to a patient. However, the patient read online that the medicine contains tracking microchips. Now, that person online has effectively indirectly harmed the patient. This demonstrates that, in the wrong hands and situation, freedom of speech can bring more harm than benefit.
To clarify, freedom of speech is not something to take for granted. It is one thing to express personal views or preferences, but it is another thing when the point of view actually causes harm. In an online society, pretty much anyone can say anything they want without much consequences (outside of anything illegal). Whether people realize it or not, their ignorance can lead to the death of millions.
As such to prevent these inherently false viewpoints and prejudice certain actions need to be taken. Like previously stated anything would pretty much work, but maintaining that balance of freedom and security is what freedom of expression needs to change. The system is flawed, not because of the way it was created, but because things changed from when the system was created.
Simply put, most opinions can and should be allowed to freely be expressed. But if that opinion can directly impact the lives of others in a negative way, that is where people need to stop. That is when freedom of expression should be restricted, either through the individual themselves or an external party. It may seem unfair and unjust, but that is the first necessary step that needs to be done in order for humanity to thrive.