If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.Georg Orwell, The freedom of the press1
Freedom of expression must include the right to offend (including, in religious language, blasphemy) and say what others do not want to hear without anyone having to fear for their lives and well-being, because otherwise it isn’t real freedom, but rather censorship and oppression. If you try to use your own freedom and privileges to intentionally deprive others of their freedom of expression, then you have also forgone your own.
In the Constitutional Act of Denmark, section 77, one can read that “Any person shall be at liberty to publish his ideas in print, in writing, and in speech, subject to his being held responsible in a court of law. Censorship and other preventive measures shall never again be introduced.”2
However, freedom of expression shouldn’t only include texts and the spoken word, but also music, images, video, games, clothing, body art, and other forms of expression.
The fact that you feel uncomfortable with other people’s expressions should never in itself govern their right to express themselves. One example is sex education, porn and erotic stories. Sex and body are, also here in Denmark, often covered in a thick layer of shame. Just because you feel ashamed of other people’s sexual expression or consider these expressions to be morally wrong, doesn’t in itself mean that they shouldn’t be allowed to express themselves, make and publish porn and erotic stories or dress as they please.
Attempts to create equality within an area can feel like oppression to those who hold the privileges within that area. However, this isn’t a reason for either censorship or self-censorship. Without room for genuine criticism, there is also no room for us to grow and learn, increase equality and justice in society, and create a better and more humane culture. This doesn’t mean that critics are always right and can’t be wrong, but without room for criticism and new ideas, there is also no room for improvements.
Like, it’s the critics that drive improvement. It’s the critics who are the true optimists.Jaron Lanier, in the Netflix documentary “The social dilemma”.3