The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This is the “free speech” article. It is quite clear as written. We’re free to pursue information and ideas, to hold whatever opinions we want, and to express and promulgate our opinions and any supporting information. This is where people often get confused. Many people seem to think that freedom of expression means that they should be able to say whatever they want without fear of contradiction or criticism. They’ve got the first part right. They are free to say whatever they want. Their mistake is thinking they have that right no matter where they say it. That’s wrong. The people who own the platform have the right to allow or deny them. That’s their freedom. We have the right to create our own platform and control what is said there. That’s our freedom. The other thing that confuses people is their assumption that the freedom to say something means freedom from being responsible for it. If we use our freedom of expression to foster hatred or violence, we are also free to accept the consequences, be they censure or prosecution. As with all rights, this one comes with responsibilities.