“IF you are not allowed to speak, find out who rules over you,” a fellow once said.
Freedom of speech is the hallmark of all democratic institutions.
Through it, government flourishes and sometimes, perish.
So great and precious is this freedom that it is constitutionally protected so much so that the 1987 Constitution declares that any law which abridges the same is questionable, bearing a heavy presumption of unconstitutionality.
Freedom to speak includes freedom to listen and not to listen.
Also, it likewise caters various ideas and thoughts as well as invites those whom we do not agree and incites deliberative unrest.
The forum in which the speech was uttered is dynamic. It changes from time to time depending upon the social condition of a society.
Hundreds of years ago, the public would debate in a public place.
In this industrial age, the forum is extended to a social media where a large number of people venture and communicate.
Through social media, news spreads everywhere on the internet faster than registered mail.
Most of the young today are fond of social media especially Facebook and Twitter. Through these platforms, they became aware of the environment in which they live.
The headlines and social, economic, and political issues are better discussed when a number of people coming from different social strata and political spectrum are involved. It becomes peculiar and conducive in that the more people from different views get involved the better the discussions.
But this freedom, like any other freedom, has limitations of course.
This freedom cannot be used as a vehicle for a crime like libel.
Libel is not a bridge towards the truth.
Also, a person cannot be justified, according to Justice Holmes, to shout “Fire! Fire!” in a theater.
Finally, it cannot be used to incite rebellion or to overthrow the duly instituted authorities.
For these, reasons, the government intervention sets in to install law and order for harmonious engagement.
But sometimes, governments are a double-edged sword – to protect and also to destroy. Governments then may become the ‘oppressors’ of this freedom.
Mocha Uson is known to be a Duterte supporter and at the same time a fierce social media personality against the “other” side of the political party of the government more particularly against the “Liberal Party” to which our Vice President Leni Robredo belongs.
Recently, she anticipated that her twitter account might be shut down due to her political involvement with President Duterte and her criticisms against the ‘other side’.
As it now happens, it has been reported that indeed it turned out that her Twitter account was suspended for some reasons unknown to her.