Mon | Jan 30, 2023

Is freedom of expression an absolute right?

Published:Wednesday | April 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The increasing efforts of regional and international governments to restrict the travel and/or performance by some of our so-called entertainers in their countries are most welcome.

It is the view of these countries that the 'entertainment' so provided essentially serves the larger unredeeming purpose of contributing to the further societal decay of their morals, values, and lifestyles.

Whereas foreign countries see the need to prevent such further pollution of their lands, we presumably are of the view that there is only so much that we can do as a society or country to likewise put a stop to the toxic lyrics being passed on to us as entertainment.

Yes, after some amount of public pressure, our airwaves have been cleaned up. It should never have been allowed to reach that stage, however. Moreover, that move only helps so much.

Broadcasting the toxicity

While the airwaves may be clean, the motor cars with travelling sound systems, the homes with stereo systems, and the entertainment venues, several of which are not soundproof, continue to openly broadcast the toxicity across the land, to the offence and discomfort of too many of us.

With the continued use of these avenues to spew the poison, the encouragement or facilitation of wayward behaviour, especially among our youth or more impressionable minds, continues to affect us.

While one would reasonably expect this Government to seek to protect the interests of its people and to ensure an orderly and peaceful society for its people as fundamental or core principles of governance, we have seen where some public officials have gone as far as to effectively defend the lyrical incompetence as constitutionally protected freedom of expression.

Is freedom of expression an absolute right, I ask? Are these lyrically unsophisticated entertainers free to pollute our country or corrupt the minds of our people by encouraging or contributing to the seriously troubling antisocial or deviant behaviours being exhibited across our land?

Freedom of expression is acceptable or protected only to the extent such an expression is not injurious to the constitutional rights of others, and/or violative of the larger societal good.

It is full time we stop holding this problem in abeyance, as no redeeming social value is obtained from or furthered by the lyrical contents of the songs that merely appeal to violent and prurient interests.

I am, etc.,