Freedom of expression is a human right, which describes the right to commune an individual’s ideas and views via the body and/or property to a receptive audience. This right is synonymously termed as freedom of speech, although it goes beyond the definition of freedom of speech by including elements such as information or opinion seeking, and its reception. The aspect of guaranteeing the freedom of expression means a warranted provision within the confines of the freedom of expression to the people under the precinct of the constitution (Raaflaub, Ober & Wallace 2008). This article explores the status of freedom of expression in the UK. The purpose of this essay is to assess the instances when freedom is limited and not guaranteed for its full expression. There are concerns that the UK is not giving its citizens freedom of expression within many contexts (Castillo 2009; Sanders 2003)
Why Freedom of Expression should be guaranteed
In the UK, every person has the right to hold and express his or her opinions in free will devoid of political or government interference (Castillo 2009). The expression of these opinions and views may take diverse forms, including through media broadcasts on the radio, television, or on the internet, as well as via print media in books, articles or leaflets that are published diversely (Sanders 2003). Additionally, the expression may be relayed via individual works of art.
In the expression of freedom, the Article does not hinder or overlook the need to provide a broadcasting license in order to air the opinions for a large audience (Castillo 2009). In order to maintain the social and moral obligation of the UK society, the implementation of these expressions may be subject to legal obligations that introduce conditions and formalities as well as restrictions and penalties in order to maintain order within the UK democratic society (Kumar 2006). This is also maintained in order to uphold the interests of the national security, averting what can be construed as a crime, and protection of territorial health and morals. Lastly, there are legal and social obligations defining the protection of the individual, corporate and national reputation, and thwarting the dissemination and disclosure of confidential information, and preserving the impartiality of the legal systems and authority.
Freedom of speech, as stipulated in the UK constitution, encapsulates the rights of expression up to the level defining the medium of communication of an individual’s ideas and views via the body and/or property to a receptive audience. Freedom of expression, on the other hand, details the way an individual engages in information or opinion seeking, and its reception. In the exercise of democracy in the UK, the case, Handyside v UK (1976), resulted in the ECHR stipulating the essentiality of the freedom of expression as a pointer of democracy especially with the elicitation of free speech for political purposes (Guibault & Hugenholtz 2006). With regard to the democratic nature of the right, national boundaries do not limit the freedom of expression considering that a UK citizen has the right to receive, seek or impart opinions, ideas or information to or from any destination in the world.
Why freedom of expression should not be guaranteed
Although the freedom of expression is guaranteed, it is limited in some conditions. In circumstances where the expression of freedom violates peace by hurting others, freedom of expression is not guaranteed and conditions may be imposed leading to legislative actions (Raaflaub et al 2008). For instance, according to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, the law negates engagement in unauthorized protests or riots, including those that are deemed peaceful, especially near the UK parliament. Additionally, where the freedom of expression violates the reputation or rights of others, as is the case with free speech instigating hate on racial lines, or sidelining the Arab spring, the freedom of expression of limited and calls for the introduction of conditions in this regard (Kumar 2006). Pubic order and public health are important aspects of the UK society with the maintenance of morals. Therefore, the law limits the expression and does not guarantee any individual to air or express defamatory statements or opinions. Thus, freedom should not be guaranteed if it is established that it would hurt other people. In fact, freedom of speech that should be enjoyed by people should be limited when people misuse it to promote racism and homophobia. WikiLeaks should also be denied the freedom of expression because it exposes very crucial information that could threaten the security of countries. Another illustration that went wrong due to freedom of expression is the Arab Spring, which made many nations in the Arab countries insecure. It could be vital to limit freedom of expression if people could use it to promote violence. The events that are demonstrated in Vicky licks clearly show that freedom of expression should be denied under certain circumstances. In fact, freedom of expression should be denied if it could be used to make other people develop unintended thoughts.
From an international standpoint, the freedom of expression is one of the fundamental human rights that espouse its indispensability on its own right, which underpins other human rights. The freedom allows for the dissemination of information and opinions as well as acquisition. Although the freedom of expression is fundamental and guaranteed, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides some limitations to the right, which are imposed to achieve specific objectives such as protecting the national security or the social and moral obligation of the UK society, as well as their rights and reputations.
Castillo, A, 2009, Banned Books: Censorship in Eighteenth-Century England, GRIN Verlag, Munich, Germany.
Guibault, LM, & Hugenholtz, PB, Eds, 2006, The future of the public domain: identifying the commons in information law, Kluwer Law International, Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands.
Kumar, A, 2006, ‘Using Courts to Enforce the Free Speech Provisions of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights’, Chi. J. Int’l L., vol. 7, no. 1, p.351.
Raaflaub, KA, Ober, J, & Wallace, RW, 2008, Origins of democracy in ancient Greece, Univ of California Press, California, CA.
Sanders, K, 2003, Ethics and journalism, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.