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Freedom of speech

Related: freedom - speech

Contrast: authoritarian - censorship


Freedom of speech is the right to freely say what you please, as well as the related right to hear what others have stated. It is self-explanatory. Recently, it has been commonly understood as encompassing full freedom of expression, including the freedom to create and distribute movies, pictures, songs, dances, and all other forms of expressive communication.

Freedom of speech is often regarded as an integral concept in modern democracies, where it is understood to outlaw government censorship. Thus states may still punish (but not prohibit) certain damaging types of expressions, notably sedition, defamation, publishing secrets regarding matters of state security, etc.

But as Tocqueville pointed out, people may be hesitant to speak freely not because of fear of government retribution but because of social pressures. When an individual announces an unpopular opinion, he or she may face the disdain of their community or even be subjected to violent reactions. While this type of suppression of speech is even more difficult to prevent than government suppression, there are questions about whether it truly falls within the ambit of freedom of speech, which is typically regarded as a civil liberty, or freedom from government action. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech [Oct 2004]


The permissive society is a label given to a society where social norms are becoming increasingly liberal. This usually accompanies a change in what is considered deviant. An extreme of permissiveness would be a society that has few moral codes beyond "do not harm others".

Aspects that often change as a society becomes more permissive:

Permissiveness is not always viewed as a good thing. Some claim the past was better, in that it involved fewer divorces, lower rates of teen pregnancy and so on. In America, campaigns such as the Moral Majority movement have taken this view.

Others answer that these things were outcomes of repressiveness, which had other downsides (for example that women could not divorce bad husbands because they did not have independent income). In America, such organizations as the National Organization for Women have taken this view. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permissive_society [Sept 2006]

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