In order to be able to think ,you have to risk being offensive! ~ Jordan Peterson.
In an interview on the CBC news channel in October 2016, a clinical psychologist/Professor went on a heated debate with a transgender activist/Professor about the notorious Canadian government attempts to legislate alternate gender pronouns in what was to be formally known as the C-16 Bill.These pronouns were in answer to the demands of transgender activists who believed in their ability to become representations of the true essence of Transgenders; a way in which they can express their actual identity . “Ze,Si and ey”,for instance, are some examples of the gender pronouns list .
Through the drifts of the debate, The psychological professor exhibited his absolute abstention form using such pronouns ,emphasizing his right to practice his freedom of speech and, even ,weeks prior to the debate,facing a protest of some of his transgender students in the University of Toronto because of his open refusal ,and ,on top of that, participating in a deposition in front of the Canadian House Senates opposing the legislation. The video generated more than 16 million views on Youtube adding to the rise of the already increasing fame of the psychologist known by his renowned name of: Jordan Peterson.
So,What is Freedom of Speech?
Various definitions come to play, depending on the geocultural origins of the term and the social factors playing in its creation. But, in the realms of history books, the term first appeared in ancient Greek as “Pharresia” which basically means “to speak” . It gave the Greeks a great space of freedom where opinions and ideas can be expressed freely ,as was, clearly evident ,in the intellectual exploration of their works . In the US, the term was billed as an amendment in the constitution ,actually the first.
Similarly, It gives American citizens the right to express their ideas and believes. Yet, neither of the two definitions draw a distinctive line of where freedom of expression begins and ends. The concept in itself is vaguely defined where, in some cases in the US, one can be charged of verbal offense or abuse. So what constitutes the boundaries in which one can freely speak?
The dominion of language is prevalent in the transmission of ideas formulated arbitrarily in the brain. Selectiveness, in the domain of language etymology, plays a huge role in the construction of appropriately ,well-articulated sentences that are essentially an extension to opinions.
That doesn’t necessarily entail that an opinion have to be morally “good” or immorally “bad”. An atrocious perspective, or as was appropriately phrased as “the Devil in the details”,for example, if put in a Tom Ford suit of equivalent carefully selected words ,can be perfectly accepted by the masses. Another wonderful example where one can explore the power of language selectiveness in the restriction of freedom of ideas, beliefs and opinions is in the globally acclaimed and popularly famous novel “1984” The novel is set out in a grim ,dystopian , of what as the time known to be : the future ,where machines or “Telescreens” spy on you. The political atmosphere is basically in the form of complete tyranny of a deeply rooted regime . Everything is distorted and altered to the point of ultimate forgery, from history itself to even the language dictionary. Language plays a huge role in the novel in the shaping of the consciousness of the citizens and ,eventually, transforming them into some sort of gramophones or even worse, dulls. Their object is to narrow the language until, basically , there are no words left to express what doesn’t already exist.
It becomes evident that language has an intricate relationship with restrictions to ideas. The relationship between language and freedom of expression is prevalent in terms of their reciprocal effect on each other. The Jordan Peterson debate, certainly, directs attention to the gravity of such attempts that resulted in a forceful legislation that impeaches someone’s right to choose his perferred way of expressing themselves. But ,how exactly does one know to distinct the lines between using language as a veichle for expression and utilizing language for utter distruction?
A Subtle Line
One’s choice in harmfully expressing his or her mind can be by no mean justifiable. The idea is that as long as you have something to be expressed, it can have some serious ramifications ;good or bad . Freedom of speech means that you can self consciously engage in the risk of being offensive but better be within a reasonable ,safe distant from the way of causing harm to others. Complete Freedom of speech can be mixed with a mistakable idea of wrongfully damaging others. It can only be achieved in a
common ground of respectability ,and it stems from constant trials of not actually coveting to destory and defeat the other ,but to actually listen ,debate and argue in a healthy manner. In a world full of podcasts that air night and day and around the clock, where voices, whether you agree or disagree with, are projected in an unprecedented manner the world have never seen before ,one can only respect the only eminent truth :that we are all variably different and we all have our own unique voices and ways of
processing and expressing ,and that it is not our duty to mold people in whatever shape we desire. We
are not God, but we are free!
Suhail Al-Hammady An Aspiring creative writer and a “fun” guy. A graduate of the English Language Department of the Faculty of Languages . Currently on a journey to become a household name ahead of the many established frontiers in the writing community.