The advocacy for free speech is integral to any free society as it safeguards individual expression, encourages open dialogue, and helps prevent authoritarianism.
Consistency in advocating for free speech, irrespective of personal bias or the content of the speech, is crucial for a multitude of reasons.
Firstly, consistency in the advocacy for free speech ensures that every voice, no matter how controversial or unpopular, has an equal opportunity to be heard. Without consistency, there’s a risk that only certain viewpoints – perhaps those that are more powerful or mainstream – will be privileged, effectively silencing dissenting voices.
Secondly, consistency also fosters trust and integrity in a society. If we selectively advocate for free speech, we jeopardise public trust. There would be doubts concerning whose speech is deemed ‘free’ and whose isn’t, resulting in hypocrisy.
Thirdly, the selective enforcement of free speech rights is a dangerous slippery slope. It leads to censorship and the repression of dissent, both of which are characteristics of autocratic regimes.
Lastly, by being consistent in advocating for free speech, we promote the free exchange of ideas, encouraging intellectual progress and societal growth.
The marketplace of ideas, where views can compete openly and on equal terms, is crucial for critical thinking.
My cartoon was turned into an acrylic painting (205cm x 136cm) by South African artist Anton Kannemeyer, and was exhibited in France in 2021.