Gray Gives Way; To Spread Hate Speech or Repress Expression

By: Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 20 June / Jun 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The communique issued the day before last by the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), in regards to balancing between rights of expression and going beyond expression, is very important.

This is not an easy issue, it requires much deliberation; liberties must be forfeited for the “greater good”, nor the other way around.

The Centre reminds us that freedom of expression is the basis for any real democracy based on public participation in decisions concerning public or national affairs. The NCHR made no mistake doing so; insuring the right is retained can support security and reinforce stability as well as authority and social livelihood.

Chief, however, of the statement’s denotations is that there is noticeable increase in the prosecution of expression and peaceful protest, to the point that it has begun reflecting on citizen rights to criticise and object to public policies. Here, precisely, the predicament lies in that such restrictions on expression can incur dangerous effects, domestically, as well as distort Jordan’s image to the world.

Primarily, there lies national interest in settling the predicament; which to preserve on account of the other? Or can both be preserved?

Embarking on such a quest remains difficult and sensitive; it requires a mind of cold precision and objectivity. One that could unbiasedly address the issue of the scarcity of expression, as a basis for our sought democracy, and the real harm that is incurred by some ideas and positions.

Mindfully, there are limits to freedom; especially when it comes to national security, the general system, and ethics, as well as to protecting others and their own rights. People tend to leave this part out whenever the leap to fend for freedoms.

In this discourse, two questions lay the foundation for resolution: how are “national interests” and “national security” defined? Where does one’s freedom of expression begin, and where does it end? Of course, answering the first question is not easy, which allows for both ends of the equation to go in any given direction. In a simpler sense, expression can be positive, or negative. And so can “preserving national interest” be abused to repress expression!

The ambiguity, in terms of definition, is not exclusive to the State. There is much confusion among the public when it comes to expression on one end, and slander and defamation on the other, among other exploitations of expression, worst of which would entail total disregard of societal harmony and peace, albeit with or without intention, especially when the issue is of sensitive public concern; national security related issues, for instance. However, it comes to relations with friendly states, I highly doubt a statement here or there would harm it, should it be rooted and stable.

In the end, legislative clarity is the only way to rid ourselves of the most dangerous threats of the past period, above else, comprised in the increase of prosecution and unjustified detention, on basis of baseless charges sometimes, which may have even caused the basis for prosecuting expression to expand, setting rights on an unnecessary collision course with national security.

Hate speech and discrimination is unacceptable, and freedom of expression does not justify it, nor should it preface a gateway for its spread. Insulting and hurting others, bullying and exclusion, are not at all forms of freedom. Contrarily, security, in its flamboyance as a concept, as well as definition, should not allow for transgression against real practices of expression.