The common law did not recognize free speech. In fact, no statues were depicting the freedom of expression or speech in the country. The human rights act spells that, freedom of expression is warranted by the European convention of human rights and enforceable by the English law. Due to the introduction of the human rights act of 1998, fundamental rights including freedom of expression in England have radically changed. The fundamental definition of freedom of expression is where citizens are free to hold opinions and ideas and share it without interference from the state. The article 10 covers all types of expressions which include political expression, commercial expression, and artistic expression. However, the freedom falls under certain limitations as defined by the human rights act to curb its misuse. The freedom of speech is an essential element of an open democratic society which should be protected by the law.
The access to free expression is important in supporting the development process of the society. It is also a development strategy in its right. Many law researchers have argued that the expansion of freedom is the principal means of development. The degree of free speech varies from country to country and is regulated based on the governing law. In England, the freedom of speech enjoys a high level of legal protection. The context in which the freedom of expression is limited is balanced against national security, public safety, and consideration of the other people’s rights. John Locke defined the idea of free speech as essential to individual dignity as well as a well-governed society. For instance, freedom of speech is essential to individual development. Self-expression and communication openly with other people is a vital factor for realizing one’s full potential.
The high level of free speech in England is vital to the process of peaceful social change. This is obtained through testing ideas before taking action hence eliminating the element of conflicts in the society. The freedom of expression is protected beyond boundaries. In certain frameworks, the freedom of speech is protected while in some situations, it is curtailed to prevent abuse, discrimination, and violence. Freedom of expression is clearly distinguished from unlawful discrimination, harassment and hate speech. Every form of restriction in the freedom of expression is clearly set out in law to ensure democracy and legitimacy. Additionally, the law barns people from relying on the freedom of expression to undermine the rights of the other people. It is limited in in circumstances of harassment, violence against, discrimination against race, religion and sexual orientation.
Free speech is fundamental to gaining and advancing knowledge. For example, individuals can make judgments based on all facts and ideas by testing them against the opposing ones. For people to determine their level of knowledge, they have to match and test it with other individuals who also voice their ideas. It is necessary for people to have access to the idea, the point of view and information to re-examine and defend their own believes. The freedom of speech prevents the government from regulating what people hear or say, what people cannot hear or say. In addition to the criminal law, there are different contexts through which the law protects offensive acts, for example in the context of education, service delivery, and employment. Public bodies have a duty in protecting the freedom of expression which is directly linked to the freedom of discrimination. This would involve actively challenging the use of offensive language openly. Offensive and insulting language are bound to attract harassment under the equality act of 2010 in England.
In relevance to the convection, all citizens are entitled to free speech regardless of their status in the society or any other form of discrimination; this involves the right to have opinions, communicate and obtain information exclusive of any legal or government restrictions. The law also provides a section on how this freedom is exercised. There include duties and responsibilities, restriction and penalties in England, a nation that depicts itself as democratic and values free speech.
Legally, the freedom of rights applies to everyone. This means that all citizens are generally free to talk, write and express their ideas as well as opinions. Most of those who enjoy this right include campaigns groups, cooperation, and media organization. Article 10 restricts the state from the interference of the freedom of expression, for instance, the government trying to prevent certain forms of political expression in other cases article 10 can require the government to take positive steps in the protection of freedom of expectation. The state has a role in ensuring that diverse range of ideas and opinions are accessible. However, in the real sense, most people are denied freedom of expression or do not express their freedom of free speech. Free speech, in reality, is not totally “free” since it’s subject to regulation whether from the government or groups with a mutual interest. The public does not usually access all essential information, and sometimes citizens only read or hear what the government wants. Also, in the internet platforms, internet censorship has been established where people are suppressed from publishing or accessing information on the internet.
- Barendt, Eric. “Freedom of expression in the United Kingdom under the Human Rights Act 1998.” Ind. LJ 84 (2009): 851. ↑
- Rainey, Bernadette, Elizabeth Wicks, and Clare Ovey. The European convention on human rights. Oxford University Press, USA, 2014. ↑
- Gomien, Donna. “European Convention on Human Rights.” (2010). ↑
- Fish, Stanley. There’s no such thing as free speech: And it’s a good thing, too. Oxford University Press, 2011. ↑