Friday, December 16, 2016

The Right to Free Speech and the Obligation to be Silent

Not everything we observe bears publication.

This week, a visual media student in my university submitted a project, editing an Obama "hope" poster to picture a prominent politician with a noose and the word "rope". It was hardly avant-garde or well-executed (pun intended), but in her defense she only started studying a couple of months ago. Everyone would have moved on to other projects, and better art, had not some popular news outlets taken it upon themselves to transform a mediocre homework submission into a fight for the right to free speech. 

This whole event reminded me that the health of our society is as dependent upon an obligation to be silent as it is tied to the right to free speech. I don't fear serious punishment for speaking out against the establishment in Israel. But, I do fear that the media's inability to filter their content cheapens ALL of the dialogue we conduct as a society. It is important that the right to free speech be carefully guarded and celebrated. If the press continues to dramatize the insignificant and desensitize the public to genuinely crucial issues (Syria), they will render free speech moot.

There is a right to free speech, and an obligation to be silent.

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