Freedom of Speech is Advanced Democracy

I watched a documentary on Netflix last night about the Khmer Rouge. It was about the genocide that happened in Cambodia during the 1970’s.

The documentary involved interviews with both victims and perpetrators of the terrible campaign that resulted in the murder of over 2 million people.

The interesting thing about that video is how many of the men who were guards responsible for torturing and killing people said over and again that they did what they did out of fear for their own lives. If they did not follow orders, they too would have been killed. So they killed and they said the things they needed to in order to survive.

These men’s freedom of speech was obliterated by a crushingly violent regime, by evil leaders bent on ultimate control – do what we say, think like we think, and kill whomever we tell you is the enemy, or you become the enemy and you too will die.

Many people under oppressive circumstances choose to act in despicable ways, commit unspeakable evil by maiming, torturing, lying, and killing.

Those Cambodian guards were willing to do anything to survive, and they did.

How does this relate to the Middle East violence? Because there is an evil at work to force people into doing violent and evil things, there is an organized effort to produce hatred and division according to ideology that is exclusive and demands the killing of anyone who disagrees. So many take to the streets with no understanding except that if they do not participate, they may be next.

The movie that has supposedly produced all this violence is a form of protected speech in America. It may be wrong-headed, it may be crass, and it may be sacrilegious. But the price of freedom of speech is that sometimes truly stupid people say truly stupid things. Their right to say these things is protected.

In a democracy, it is vital to protect the right of people to say whatever they want to say about anyone and anything so long as they do not threaten someone’s health and safety.

The middle east supposedly wants to have democracy, but it seems that people there do not understand what true freedom is. Democracy without freedom of speech is nothing more than tyranny.

If Americans are afraid to say what they think about the Muslim religion, or any religion, or any political movement, or any public figure, then we have given up our right as free people to speak out. Right or wrong, informed or ignorant, our right to speak freely cannot be suppressed or we become victims of tyranny.

What we should all have learned from the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis is that if you suppress freedom of speech, any level of atrocity is possible, and perhaps it is even probable.

I do not agree with some imbecile film maker in California saying nasty things about Mohammed (I have not seen the film). But in America he is allowed to say it.

The people of the middle east must reconcile their fear of freedom of speech or they will become victims of tyrannical leadership who want them to think as they do or die. They must mature in their conception of democracy so that they can enable even the morons among them to speak without fear. If they do not allow everyone to be who they are, their freedom is false.

Let’s face it, the best ideas and the most historic leaders have been those who had, or who exercised free speech in the face of oppression. We cannot exercise censorship against the inevitable lunatics or we will censor important ideas of great thinkers too. If free speech is suppressed, none of us are safe.