Post by: Katrina Sumner
The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights notes that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.”
The truth of this statement regarding barbarous acts was demonstrated again last week by the beheading of a beloved history teacher in Paris. The teacher was killed in broad daylight near his school in what appears to be retaliation for a lesson he taught on freedom of speech. French President Macron said the teacher was murdered, “for teaching students freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe.” His murder has shocked and outraged thousands who took to the streets all across France to express their support for the slain educator.
The teacher’s murder is yet another example of why the freedom of speech is to be cherished and protected. While it is important for nations to safeguard freedom of speech, it is also important that individuals recognize that others have the right to speak freely without being subjected to violence or death.
Sometimes people speak disparagingly about freedom of speech as if it is no longer to be cherished. This liberty is as precious today as it ever has been. It is encouraging to see nations take steps to secure liberties like the freedom of expression and the freedom of belief to their people. For example, in July 2020, Sudan repealed its apostasy laws making the changing of one’s religion no longer a death penalty offense in that country.
Freedom of speech is an important human right. People should not have to live in fear of death for exercising it. Our goal as individuals should be to embrace our own right to freedom of expression while respecting that others have this right, as well.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.