Freedom of speech
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Freedom of speech is the concept of being able to speak freely without censorship. It is often regarded as an integral concept in modern liberal democracies. The right to freedom of speech is guaranteed under international law through numerous human rights instruments, notably under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, although implementation remains lacking in many countries. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes preferred, since the right is not confined to verbal speech but is understood to protect any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country, although the degree of freedom varies greatly. Industrialized countries also have varying approaches to balance freedom with order. For instance, the United States First Amendment theoretically grants absolute freedom, placing the burden upon the state to demonstrate when (if) a limitation of this freedom is necessary. In almost all liberal democracies, it is generally recognized that restrictions should be the exception and free expression the rule; nevertheless, compliance with this principle is often lacking.
Origins and academic freedom
Freedom of speech and expression has a long history that predates modern international human rights instruments. Ancient Athenians believed that the power of persuasion is the most enduring force in a culture, one that must not and can not be stifled. It is thought that ancient Athens’ democratic ideology of free speech emerged in the later 6th or early 7th Century BC. Two of the most cherished values of the Roman Republic were freedom of religion and freedom of speech. In Islamic ethics freedom of speech was first declared in the Rashidun period by the caliph Umar in the 7th century. In the Abbasid Caliphate period, freedom of speech was also declared by al-Hashimi (a cousin of Caliph al-Ma'mun) in a letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through reason. According to George Makdisi and Hugh Goddard, "the idea of academic freedom" in universities was "modelled on Islamic custom" as practiced in the medieval Madrasah system from the 9th century. Islamic influence was "certainly discernible in the foundation of the first deliberately-planned university" in Europe, the University of Naples Federico II founded by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1224.
The modern concept of freedom of speech emerged gradually during the European Enlightenment. The England’s Bill of Rights 1689 granted 'freedom of speech in Parliament'. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which issued from the French Revolution of 1789, specifically affirmed freedom of speech as an inalienable right. In 1791, freedom of speech was included in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.