However, the debate around absolute freedom of speech has always been there and has been gaining momentum in the recent years, what with the exponential growth of internet and social media that has given the power to people to express their views and proliferate their views far and wide. The strongest support for freedom of speech emanates from the theory of liberalism that emphasizes on freedom of individuals and their agency in political decision making. Of all the later theorists, John Rawls’s Theory of Justice comes closest to defining the tension between free speech and censorship, “accepts the moral diversity of modernity as an ultimate fact and seeks to construct principles of justice which permit rival moral traditions to co-exist in peace” (Steel, 2013).
It is in this liberal tradition that idea of tolerance and theories around it were posited, which said that even those views and opinions that might go against the majority view should be permitted in a free society. The internet users often end up testing the other people’s threshold of tolerance with respect to their cultural, religion, nationalism, and sentiments revolving around those. This has given rise to the term “hate speech” where one group takes the liberty to post insensitive messages about another, thereby inflicting and perpetuating hate.
The government and judiciary responded with anti-hate laws which penalize and punish perpetrators of hate speech. However, how far is this method effective in controlling such instances or inculcating in people a mutual respect for each other’s ethnicity, culture, and religion? Of course the anti-social activities should be curtailed but restricting all speech is not a solution.