3.b.7 – What binds freedom of expression to freedom of opinion?

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March 23, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

What binds freedom of expression to freedom of opinion?

The traditionalist culture, intolerant and illiberal, naturally produces restrictive and punitive behaviors that develop the fear of being discriminated or to suffer reprisals because of our views; this is a great limit for both freedom of thought and of expression.
We all know well that to express our views to friends and acquaintances is a natural thing, to the point that if we wanted to keep them hidden, it would be very difficult. We can say that to reveal our ideas is yet another psychological need, almost obvious in social and cultural animals which we are, but there’s more: even if we do not openly declare our thoughts, it transpires from our daily behavior, from facial expressions and small involuntary gestures, all signs that our fellow men can very easily interpret and then judge us accordingly.
Our trend to communication exposes us to reprisals dictated by intolerance and this makes difficult to separate the freedom of thought to that of expression; indeed it is obvious that if someone suffers discrimination or punishment for his views it is because in some ways has expressed them, perhaps inadvertently; conversely if someone wants to stifle freedom of expression is because he wants to prevent certain ideas to spread. Therefore, for a genuine freedom of opinion, freedom of expression is also needed and in fact in the legal field are protected together as if they were one thing only.  
But we should not think that freedom of expression must be protected only to protect the freedom of opinion: to communicate is a deep human need, our ability to socialize depends on that of talking; therefore, to be free of speaking is very important also when the matter of discussion are not political, religious, philosophical opinions or other topics often subject to censorship.
For completeness, we must remember that freedom of expression is not sufficient alone to protect freedom of opinion, which may be attacked by an obscurantist and intolerant education or from modern forms of mental plagiarism irrespective of freedom of expression.



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