I think that the issue of free speech on the Internet is complicated for the thin line that separates the practice of such a freedom and the probable violation committed in doing so. Taking the meaning of freedom as “without restriction” brings the idea of freedom of speech as having the ability to speak without being censored. The right to this freedom, in the first place, is guaranteed by universal laws and has come to help characterize modern liberation and democracy. While this right is inherent to all humans, not all can exercise self-expression precisely because of such terms as slander, libel, oral defamation, sedition, perjury and the like—which are, in varying degrees, violations of some other forms of freedom, human rights, or public trust. Hence, the disclaimer that freedom is not absolute is extended to the freedom of self-expression, suggesting that one can freely speak to a tolerable degree. It is a different case altogether in terms of the Internet, most of the content of which is anomalous in nature, so censorable articles are out of the question. What was supposed to help bring modern progress to mankind has in one way caused degeneration. This is true of the Internet especially regarding the unprecedented abuse of the freedom of speech. One such example even became a national controversy, when the king of Thailand was criticized through a video uploaded in www.youtube.com. Numerous items carrying cusswords, pornographic contents, or other libelous remarks are plenty online. As such, it became an issue whether to speak freely at the expense of others or to protect others but by gagging up the speaker. Any which way, a human right is at the risk of being violated. In my belief, censorship of the contents of free speech online limits one’s right to self-expression and so, is disastrous to the humanity of the society. It is frightening to think of the degree to which censorship will carry itself in order to seal the people’s mouths. In much the same horror, the abuse of free speech can also ruin others. However, I see that it is better to uphold uncensored speech and just allow the justice system to punish slanderers or libelous persons should the speech contain malice out to smudge the reputation of the concerned. It is more appealing to be a free-speaking human than to have idea that is already aborted even before it is expressed. In the case of students being punished by the school for making degrading profile online, there is a court which must decide whether such action merits criminal sanction. If the school considers the action a violation of anything in the students’ manual, then it should proceed with the castigation. However, punishing the erring student when the court has decided his/her liability to a criminal offense is a sign of double jeopardy. If the court found nothing malicious but the school does, then it is the time a punishment should be executed. The school must also be careful in handling matters as sensitive as the probable violation of one’s human right to free expression, because it is one of the social institutions from which the promotion of the just and the humane should spring first and foremost.
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