Freedom of expression is important to highlight when considering use language, its defined as ‘the power or right to express one’s opinions without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty’ (Freedom Of Speech | Meaning of Freedom Of Speech by Lexico, 2020)
Among other cherished values, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court often has struggled to determine what exactly constitutes protected speech (What Does Free Speech Mean?, 2020)
– this is used similarly in effect across the world. Freedom of speech is idealistic and optimistic as when put in to practice isn’t an absolute good and becomes more relative to the utterance made. For instance, in a plane shouting “bomb” or in a crowded theatre shouting “Fire” some may think is their freedom of speech however an utterance like this is not included as it incites actions that would harm others and could easily result in fines and jail time if the utterance isn’t the truth i.e. if there really was a fire in the crowded theatre this would be acceptable without consequences in use of the utterance ‘fire’ (ISY3009, 2020). This therefore contradicts the ability to speak freely as there are circumstances that speech or oral communication may result in consequences when exhibiting an opinion. The broad term ‘speech’ can include verbal, nonverbal, visual, and symbolic expressions. For example, in 1969, the Supreme Court found that high school students could wear symbolic black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War as part of their freedom of speech rights (Michelle Kaminsky, 2020). Most theorists believe that it is freedom of opinion that is free (essay). However, in modern society we often see cases of people being penalised for expressing their opinions. From personal experience, in secondary school witnessing 31 teachers signed a letter of which was critical of inspectors and the acting principal and vice-principal, which backlashed and had resulted in governors ‘to investigate matters relating to potential serious or gross misconduct’ from the teachers and many teachers resigned as a result (Doyle, 2017)
This example reconfirms the idea that freedom of expression if not always ‘free’ and can come with severe consequences for actions even if it isn’t speech directly as in this case it was written language in expression. It’s also made clear that although the political community may endorse freedom of expression however minor establishments or discourse communities, in this case the board of governors, can restrict what you say as well as discipline you based on that expression.
In oral and written communication it is therefore easier to identify the time, place and intention of a particular utterance from a producer, however, in electronic communication it is extensively more difficult to identify these details especially when they are trying to remain anonymous, which coincides with the symbolism of the ‘no one knows you’re a dog’ image. Cyber bullying is a prime example of how electronic communication can be used wrongfully, as physical fighting cannot occur, verbal abuse often takes its place which can sometimes be much more painful when people are emitting expressions. An example of how someone’s freedom of speech was used wrongfully was as an American man who died by suicide at the age of 18 with encouragement from his girlfriend, then 17 year-old Michelle Carter, via text messages, colloquially known as the ‘texting suicide case’ (Death of Conrad Roy, 2020). This shows that it was easy for the girl to use her freedom of expression upon the mans will to live at the time because it is nearly impossible to detect, however electronic communication still has a degree of evidential as the time, place and sometimes, alike to this case, the producer may have a profile so it can result in consequences such as the utterances of the girl resulting on charges of manslaughter. Back in 2012, Twitter defined itself as the “free speech wing of the free speech party” and for years, these social media platforms allowed posts that could arguably inspire real-life violence, but now things are changing. It is only recently, after a series of scandals, that these sites are expanding their protecting over offensive speech so that freedom of speech so their users abide by the first amendment (spectator.co.uk, 2019). This is an example of where the political community would not accept forms of utterances as freedom of speech but was accepted across discourse communities across electronic communication, although this is widely being challenged in the modern social networking sites currently.
“There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future. The scale of the technology and infrastructure that must be built is unprecedented, and we believe this is the most important problem we can focus on” (Zuckerberg’s letter to investors, 2012). It is clear from this quote, coming from the CEO and founder of possibly the largest and most influential social networking site ‘Facebook’, that even though social networking has had major advancements and became more both globally accessible and used in recent years, has major potential for expansion in this technological era beyond our expectations. It’s evident that this quote from Mark Zuckerberg identifies the ability of the Internet and these communicative sites to provide a platform for people to utilise their freedom of expression on a more global scale whilst using less labor in production of their utterances. However electronic communication possesses some barriers, as using so little labor to exert freedom of expression through discourse, this can be dangerous as the sphere of the utterance is unpredictable and impose issues such as cyberbullying due to the ease of anonymity over electronic communication. It is clear also that there is different levels of formality used within electronic communication for example email being used for regularly formal communication such as within professions and educational platforms, where as social networking on applications such as Facebook are less formal although used more extensively, inclusive of communication regularly with family and friends.
In oral communication there is no doubt that production of an utterance is quicker, exempt from long distance communication, and can be received more fully through direct semantic ratification, however in recent years electronic communication has introduced more ways to introduce and improve direct semantic ratification such as through emoticons previously mentioned, this is specific to social media sites in comparison to Email, which is why it can be conclusive to think they will remain in their boundaries of use for the foreseeable future within society. Historically, oral and written communication were previously considered the most valuable, although electronic communication has extensively improved and became more useful in discourse within our different discourse or political communities as it has became more dynamic across the world and can only be suggested to become more valuable as direct semantic ratification is improved and freedom of expression is made available on a global scale but kept respectfully within the laws of society. During this global pandemic of covid-19 it’s clear that communication is vital for human survival and that electronic communication in comparison to oral and written, although not solely, proved more efficient in communicating important information between discourse and political communities. The framework in this module has enabled evaluation of advancements in communication, in concluding this global ease of communication between political and discourse communities, improvement in direct semantic ratification and freedom of expression in long distance communication, has assisted humans to become more connected and similarly cultured, therefore humans should both cherish and empower this new era of technological communication as much as possible to become a more vocal and understanding world.