• Adam Tabriz, MD

Free Speech, Self Perception, And Intent, Or An Utter Illusion!

This article was initially published by Illumination Curated on Medium!

Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

Speech is our ability to express our thought to others. It is how we feel about our surroundings and perceive other people's self-expression. It is our discourse to a group audience.

A deaf person is said to be without the power of speech, but we have found a way to empower the deaf by providing them with another tool to enhance their self-expression. But, no matter how we enable and help deaf people, they will still be minorities, so there is a limitation on how and to what extent they can communicate with us. Unfortunately, the world we live in has stigmatized the deaf!

Even in the mainstream, some have treated the deaf as intellectually inferior. That is because someone cannot communicate the way we do, given that individual must have lower intelligence. Metaphorically speaking, that also applies to how freely we can express ourselves today through speech.

Only because what I say may sound absurd does not necessarily make it inappropriate. Perception and Sensitivity around a subject is invariably the driver of how a highly biased society values our speech.

A tolerant society tends to uphold the liberty of every individual and community of individuals to express themselves through a well-articulated speech without the fear of stigma, isolation, or even punishment.

Of course, today, with the overwhelming expansion of the globalization of rhetorics, the discipline of free expression is mainly the practice of a few traditional dictatorships. Nonetheless, most other nations still practice free speech prescription, only this time by breeding public stigma around the subject of a given discourse.

So, How Easy Is It Today To Express Ourselves?

Speech, body language, and expression are how others perceive us. But every action invariably comes with a reaction.

If action and response are between two individuals, that would be as simple as tolerating the other person by acting as an active listener rather than a solely active talker.

Things get more complex once we try to apply that in the collective environment. These include peer pressure, societal engineering, interpretive journalism, and corporate business strategy. Then the concept of free speech will come under scrutiny. Thus our freedom to express our thoughts will face various levels of stigma and backlash.

Imagine if one used the slogan "Make America Great Again" a couple of decades ago would have sounded like a patriotic slogan. But, today, those who use it can be painted insensitive, racist, and even unpatriotic, depending on their political stance.

Or, those who share a piece of their wealth pie with those in need may be labeled a communist.

These are the stigmas that impede actual free speech and expression practice.

Is Other People's Perception of Our Speech Vital To Us?

Whether unconscious or not, we care what people think of us, even though many of us may deny that there is some truth.

Generally speaking, our careers and life experiences within society depend on how people see us.

In extreme scenarios, we can offend another person or a community of individuals who share a particular profile through our free speech and indiscriminate expression of our thoughts. Likewise, if we let ourselves, we can also be offended by other people's opinions.

The choice lies within the intention!

Do we want to hurt the other person or feel they are against us!? — either way, we can never think about how others perceive us simply because we can not change people's minds by blocking free speech. We can reflect on each other's opinions; only then the ultimate truth will surface.

Some advocate for checking the fact-checker for bias; however, having fact-checkers surveyed on both sides of the aisle by the opposing party fact-checkers, according to some sources, may lead to an endless regression toward a precarious validity.


“The motive behind fact-checking is to thwart false information; still, false information is not the same as raw information, just as free speech doesn’t imply falsehood.”

To Believe In Free Speech Necessitate A Selfless Perspective

Doing things for selfish reasons is widespread among us. I don't think any average person has not had a thoughtless moment. But being selfless takes the initiative from the individual.

We typically regard selflessness as an action forsaken by oneself for the sake of another. However, some believe the concept of selflessness does not even exist as there is always a reason for someone to be selfless, a warm feeling when you help someone.

Be it valid or not, free speech requires a selfless attitude because it opens the way to non-judgmental listening. Like the selfless perspective, the reward builds a productive conversation, laying the foundation for mutual respect and ultimately lesser hostility towards one another.

In other words, free speech is not free from a subjective perspective, per se, but it is free if you also are willing to listen without prejudice, just as you want others to listen to your viewpoint. Thus selfishness is the catalyst of stigmatization, which will invariably undermine healthy communication and individual liberty.

“Punish the crime, not the ideology. Improve communication, not prohibit it, no matter how uncomfortable it is to listen. Minimize profiling (Eliminate if possible), as it is by itself discriminatory.” — Dr. Adam Tabriz

Selfishness enroots within our deep intention, such as fascism, ego, or we feel it is a flawed business decision. If selfish people disagree with others' opinions will create a stigma around those views, hindering free speech. Some may even go a bit further by equating an expressed opinion as an act of crime, even without apparent harm.

Stigmatization strategies of free speech are many, like hate speech and disinformation. Commonly to bypass stigma, we amass with those who blend with us and boost the power of stigma against those who don't conform.

“The clash of stigma war around free speech undermines its existence rendering it elusive.”
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