What you see could be controlled

by JRajotte on March 16, 2015 - 9:09pm

 Recently freedom of expression and press has been limited worldwide. Russia has adopted and is planning on adopting limiting factors to freedom of expression and democracy. The article Russia: RIP Freedom of Speech? Publish 31st of July 2014 on the Aljazeera website by Remi Piet reveals that Russia although it is a great critic of the NSA uses similar techniques to gather information about its own citizen. On July 22 President Putin has passed a law which would force Russian sites and social media to store all information (personal) about its users. This law is to be in function starting in 2016. A law passed the month before made it illegal to hold illegal view such as extremist these views include terrorism but also includes critiquing the current government and can result in imprisonment. The Russian government is also stated to be controlling information on Russia social media and news outlets.

The organization Canadian Journalist for Free Expression has for mission to keep the integrity and freedom of the press in Canada, it also attempts to improve the situation on an international level with programs such as journalist in Distress Fund , World Press Freedom Day and many more programs. https://cjfe.org/about_us

Without freedom of Press and Expression a society cannot critique itself and the ones in power, such society cannot function democratically when ones view are censored.




I think you bring up a very good topic that's been a hot topic in recent events. Freedom of speech is encouraged by the majority of people in western society and while I also encourage it, I do believe that opinions which are shared (ESPECIALLY those of people or groups who hold a large amount of influence or power) should be used in a constructive and non-threatening manner. While I also believe that the laws which are/will be passed in Russia do infringe on its people's freedom of expression, there are a few ways that we can view this situation.

One way of looking at it would be the manner in which I believe you are seeing this, which is that every individual should have the right to freedom of expression and should never have to worry about being censored. This type of universal rule or maxim would attribute itself to deontology, which is built upon the idea of having certain rules that are unchanging. The last line of your post gives me the message that you believe in the universal rule of freedom of speech. With deontology, no matter what the given situation may be, as long as one follows their universal rules or maxims, then their behavior is moral.

Now what I'd like you to consider is another moral perspective, namely teleology. This moral system is based on an the idea that morality is defined by the end goal or purpose that motivates the action. An individual or a group should strive for an end goal known as the summum bonum. With teleology, one may behave in whatever manner they wish as long as they ultimately achieve their summum bonum. What this means is that if, for example, you witness someone being attacked with a knife. You decide to intervene and in all the commotion, the assailant is killed. Your end goal (or summum bonum) in this case could have been to keep the victim safe from harm, and getting to that consequence resulted in the attacker's death. However, since the victim was ultimately saved from danger, you acted in a moral manner.

Now I personally believe that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government's summum bonum is to have a controlled Russia, safe from terrorist attacks and extremist views both inside and outside the country. It could be for this reason that they have decided that websites should save personal information and that extremist views can result in arrests. Keep in mind that as long as these actions result in a safer Russia with less potential for chaos, then what they are doing can indeed be considered moral from a teleological standpoint.

What I personally think is that freedom of expression should be kept but not abused. If these laws can in fact prevent radicalists, extremists and any form of threatening opinions to be circulated in society, then these laws are indeed morally just.

I think the way you show the lack of freedom of speech and expression in Russia is interesting. I have never thought about how Russia was spying on its citizens and preventing them from forming some sort of organized dissent. Even though they don't specialize in dealing with the specific problems you mentioned in your summary, Amnesty International is known for doing some great work on all aspects of freedom of speech and expression in countries like Russia. http://www.amnesty.ca/our-work/priority-countries/russia-0

I would like to start off by thanking you for your post. While we hear a great deal about oppression of freedom of speech in third world countries, it is less common to hear about similar actions being taken by our own governments. As you said, a society must be able to critique itself. That being said, many have argued that the government needs to be able to sometimes act without knowledge of the public. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this dilemma.
One option is to force the government to be completely honest, and tell everyone everything that they do. This is an excellent choice from a deontological perspective, as the deontological perspective forbids lying in any scenario, even when some would argue a lie is necessary. This outlook has the benefit of keeping the public informed, but it has its issues.
While giving no information whatsoever to the public is not a good way to run a government as it allows abuse of power much too easily, there is a strong argument to allow some censorship of information. From a utilitarian perspective, a perspective that strives to create the maximum happiness in the world, certain information can be unethical to distribute. For example, when one of the British princes was serving in Afghanistan no one was allowed to report his local to the mass media as doing so would make him a prime target for terrorists.
Overall I would argue that, as a general rule, information should be distributed freely. The important thing to remember is that, sometimes, it’s better for certain information to stay secret, at least until it can no longer hurt anyone.

I find your post very interesting as it is a hot topic in today’s media that I believe has to be discussed following the events that occurred in France. Further, I think that the limitation in freedom of speech is justifiable to a certain point, that it is necessary to avoid outbursts and violent conflicts within the population.
In fact, I strongly support John Stuart Mill who once stated that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to other” which was in On Liberty. Moreover, he defines in this passage the harm principle which I believe should be at the centre of the only reason why we would and we should limit freedom of speech; allow freedom of speech as long as it doesn’t bring harm or defame a group or individual and limit it on the basis of this concept of the harm principle.
As a matter of fact, in Russia’s case I believe it’s justifiable to limit freedom of speech in the way they do because it avoids terrorists or extremist groups to take action against anyone who is trying to express their opinion and create a big tragedy like the one that happened in France.
Thus, freedom of speech can be limited like Russia does but to an extent where the limitations respect the harm principle in order to avoid outbursts that would be a threat to the balance and health of society.