I’ve been thinking about rights and freedoms; how far do they reach? If I’m free to express any opinion, is it ok to preach hate and intolerance?
There should be a line drawn somewhere… but where?
I have a suggestion.
There are all sorts of things our society allows me to do; I’m free to drink, smoke, gamble and spend my life in whatever way pleases me. Let’s call those my ‘personal freedoms’… my business, not yours.
But some freedoms are everyone’s business: our freedom to vote, to worship (or not), to be treated as an equal, to walk down any street at any time of day or night wearing whatever we want without being insulted, attacked or killed.
Those freedoms aren’t just mine, they’re ours.
And (unlike my freedom to smoke) my freedom to vote is good for everyone.
Those freedoms are fundamental to the health of our community, which is why they must be protected at all costs by each and every one of us.
More than just a personal choice, our ‘civic freedoms’ must be defended as (what I’d call) ‘rights’.
If you’re happy for me to do it, it’s a freedom.
If you’d fight to make sure I can do it, it’s a right.
I’m free to express my thoughts (no matter how awful) to anyone who cares to listen. But would you fight for my ‘right’ to intimidate or bully others with my particular brand of intolerance, hate or fear?
Of course not. Because that’s not a right.
It’s a wrong.