“The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may therefore speak, write, and print freely.”
In an era where social media provides many with the bravery to express their opinion, the audacity to appear as overtly racist/homophobic/sexist and the confidence to demonstrate their passions; freedom of speech has come a long way. Whilst the ability to state our thoughts on particular issues and matters stimulates our ever-growing minds, let us not forget the difference between “freedom of speech” and “hate speech.” As obvious as this is, the freedom of speech of a human being translates to being given the access to communicate our subjective opinions. However, the moment an individual invades a person’s/group’s physical, mental and emotional space in a discriminatory way, this is when freedom of speech becomes a toxic excuse for promoting derogatory and undermining expressions.
2017 saw a historical moment for the UK; 51.9% of those who voted in the EU Referendum made the decision to leave the European Union. Meanwhile, the remaining 48.1% of the voters woke up to what they perceived as a living nightmare. Waking up and performing the ritual of opening social media apps led to coming across tweets such as “now fuck off back to where you came from” accompanied by “we want Britain to be back British.” Try countering such remarks and you’re left with “this is my right to freedom of speech.” Here we have a perfect example of “hate speech,” where keyboard warriors are laughably defending their statements. Justifying them and priding themselves in a right that has been abused by a group of dimwits drinking tinnies whilst gaining entertainment from watching their mirrored lives on The Jeremy Kyle Show. For fuck sake. Not a consideration for the sensitivity of their peers, mind you, the term “sensitivity” comprises of five whole syllables; something this particular group of lager louts are not familiar with.
Of course, not all Brexiteers can be categorised and unified as prejudiced pricks. Long before the referendum, the Facebook page Britain First gained much popularity amongst those who stupidly believe that immigration is the sole reason for the decline of their country. Posts preaching narratives such as “get rid of every Muslim in this country,” published on a platform followed by two million Facebook users; users from far and wide. Whilst Donald Trump retweets a Britain First tweet, the group’s Facebook page reaches a grand total incorporating not only ignorant views of the British but, the Americans too. Once again, for fuck sake. However, luckily for us, Facebook banned the page and its leaders earlier this year because, let’s face it, political views should be expressed without far right fuckwits expressing horrifyingly grammatically incorrect hate. The two million virtual supporters of Britain First will argue the diminish of their freedom of speech as a result of Facebook’s decision however, many will appreciate the exclusion of a page promoting outright discrimination. A sigh of relief amongst the majority of British people who are continuously let down by the ill-educated, vulgar and backward individuals who present themselves as fearless keyboard warriors.
The freedom to communicate is a concept taken for granted, used and manipulated by groups to create a sense of unity amongst people with similar views. In the form of speaking “fictitious facts,” peers are easily influenced by those who claim their statements are “correct.” Jamali Maddix, a British comedian worthy of a seat in parliament, once stated that Tommy Robinson is the far right’s Nelson Mandela. Mandela being an unforgettable political leader, a revolutionary. Perhaps Tommy Robinson won’t be replacing Theresa May anytime soon however, his courageous character has won him a tremendous tribe of followers who believe in his rhetoric. A group of supporters who engage with his speech, who trust his statements and who empathise with his loathe towards the 50 shades of browns who are obviously benefit stealing scum. His right to freedom of speech has somewhat generated a trend for speaking in the same manner, vocalising hate via a simple sentence is now sadly the norm. Normalisation of discriminating comments has to an extent damaged the privilege of freedom of speech.
Regardless of the documentaries that showcase our exceptionally attentive police force who deal with hate crime, unfortunately, hate speech is an ongoing phenomena. Social media, although a brilliant communicative device for personal and business use, can be a dangerous device that provides a home for discrimination in the form of a 140 character long broadcast.