What is “Freedom of Expression”?


This term is somehow misunderstood within the Lebanese population. Bloggers, activists, politicians and other individuals striving for a certain cause are abusing the word freedom.

Freedom of speech/expression is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them. The right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, ethnic hatred, copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise (Wiki). 

It is normal that people worldwide support any movement or pressure group that expresses unhappiness toward their government. Which is true most of the time in any democratic system to shout out when something is not working well with the system. This happens by exchanging information and ideas using different mediums, either through a public protest, signing a petition, organizing a sit-in or writing an article highlighting the problem(s).

Saying so, any group of protestors should have clear demands allowing the other part to be able to negotiate, take the right actions in order to get the best results that can suit both sides.

Each country or region of the world has a particular way of showing discontent vis-a-vis their government; in Japan for example, workers of a governmental office started to work more than usual, a way to show their bosses how valuable they are for the bureau. In Stockholm, a signed petition by 1,000 inhabitants was enough to create a public library.

What happened lately with “Tweep” Jean Assi is a clear abuse of this freedom given to him and that he misused to insult the president of Lebanon. His freedom of expression turned immediately to a hatred speech.

Still according to Wikipedia, Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the “harm principle” or the “offense principle”, for example in the case of pornography, or hate speech. Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both.

We all wished his tweets were expressed with more objectivity away from an insulting and offending language; tweets showing WHY he dislikes the president, WHY he prefers someone else, WHAT he blames him for, etc..

Unfortunately, his tweets harmed him more than they did to the president.


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