E Freedom: Expression

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions (I prefer the word ‘views’) without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. 

Freedom can also be seen as the enemy by those who want to keep us subdued and complacent.

Art and freedom of expression are vital elements of any functioning democracy. Art, however defined, can take matters to the extreme in many instances and the viewer may well feel uncomfortable, shocked, horrified at such expression. Brett Bailey, a local artist here in South Africa, internationally known, has had many of his works denounced and installations pulled down and destroyed. Not surprisingly, it upsets a great many when a truth has been expressed, graphically. A local cartoonist, known by the name of Zapiro, has had the governing party threaten to sue and/or jail him for his cartoons that express uncomfortable truths.

As Brett Bailey puts it: “Do any of us really want to live in a society in which expression is suppressed, banned, silenced, denied a platform? My work has been shut down today, whose will be closed down tomorrow?”

“Freedom is the soul of art.”  Abhijit Naskar

There are so many ways in which we can express ourselves freely. The written word, the sketch, the painting, creating music (even if it is heavy metal), cooking, crocheting, the clothes we wear, or not. We can express ourselves in the way we love, with whom we love. There is a supportive energy in this. Call it Eros, the life force. It also true too that many of us deny ourselves this freedom of expression, for various reasons – or, as noted above, it is denied to us.

Kayla A: My definition of freedom is having the ability to live/think without needing the permission of others. Freedom is in the mind, and Freedom is free –

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this –

35 Comments on E Freedom of Expression

  1. I agree with your edit in the first paragraph. I’ve been fortunate and have not had my freedom of expression shut down by my government. They threaten, but I’ve not been jailed. During the Vietnam War, I feared I might be jailed, but wasn’t. I was young and spoke out anyway with many others on my side of the conflict. My horrifying government is trying to shut down every democratic freedom now. I hope they won’t succeed, but I’m concerned. It’s easy to become passive rather than resist and risk retaliation.

    • Already our ordinary rights such as access to free water and fresh air are being curtailed due to mining and oil exploration shale and gas upsetting the natural order of things – we WILL prevail

  2. Interesting topic susan, freedom to express oneself is the basic human right of every person. unfortunately our politicians do not like to be questioned; if you express yourself about the happenings around you – be it rape, suicide (institutional murder) abuse,. murders of journalists who voice out on injustice, empowering communities etc… the ruling party will label you as anti national – the worst is that in democracy the powerful ones especially the ruling party will attempt are silencing these voices and many of the crimes and happenings are not getting reported as the media is also at the mercy of the powerful ones,… People are not willing to listen; take feedback and evaluate -the fear of losing their seats/power is so much that all the genuine voices get silenced.

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head Genevive – those who are supposed to be examples of the democracy they espouse are the very ones who abuse it – and I so don’t like the term ‘ruling’ party; they’re the SERVING party – or supposed to be – it’s an important nuance in my view ..

  3. I remember reading C. S. Lewis comment “Indifference is the main enemy of love, not hate.” It gave me cause for pause then, and I believe it is true today. Being apathetic is like siding with the haters. Your blog posts help counteract such indifference. Brava and thanks for posting thoughtful research, Susan!

    • I was thinking about the difference between or similarities of apathy and indifference – indifference is I think more active, and apathy more passive – I honestly don’t know if my view is valid Marian … but indifference in my view is indicative of a cold cold heart … and apathy is certainly a siding with the haters – does one become apathetic when one is indifferent? Thank you for your comment … 🙂

  4. I read recently of book burnings in Poland–what a scary image that conjures up!
    I believe it was a Catholic priest who thought Harry Potter books were evil, or some such nonsense–but still, it is chilling.

  5. Love my first amendment rights! Without freedom of expression we all become automatons and worse, art dies. These days with the rise of totalitarianism globally, it’s more important than ever to keep art and expression alive not just for ourselves, but for future generations. That may sound alarmist, but I’ve just started watching, “The Handmaid’s Tale” based on the book by Margaret Atwood (man, was she prescient), and this kind of stuff just sneaks up on you. So more art and music! Let’s keep society free and thinking!

    • The Handmaid’s Tale by Attwood was written in the 1980’s. I loaned the book to a friend who found it extremely disturbing which of course it is … I get the chills just thinking of it. Another book by PD James in called ‘Children of Men’ and is also wonderfully dystopian – an old book. She too was prescient. An excellent author of crime stories. ‘Children of Men’ was not in her usual style – very disturbing and also written AGES ago 🙂 Thanks for coming by Pam and for noting that freedom of expression to be kept alive for future generations also 🙂

    • Well, the most important thing I guess would be to hurt no-one person or thing. But to still be able to challenge those who abuse positions of power (in whichever way it is manifested) and to push the boundaries and cross the line wherever required.
      Thanks for coming by Linda ..

  6. Hi Susan, this was a lovely read and a great reminder to how lucky we are to have freedom ourselves. Thanks for including me in your post 🌻 ❤️ I am touched.
    Lots of love x

    • Well, I thank YOU Kayla for your wise words! As a gifted artist yourself, you understand well the necessity of freedom of expression – 🙂 xx

  7. Piercings, tattoos and pink or blue hair come to mind re the freedom to express oneself! Tattoos in particular fascinate me, even though I haven’t got any myself, I would happily sit at my local coffee shop and stare at other customers tattoos for hours and then ask them if they’re chatty more about them and why a particular symbol caught their attention!

    Isn’t it wonderful Susan to live in an age where we all can express ourselves in different ways, ways we’d never imagined possible as a child … as you say from the way we dress, the music we listen too, to the activities we choose to do … especially extreme sports that have been so popular now, like “white-rafting” … eek! Another great post, so many ideas!

    Love and light, Deborah.

    • Yours are lovely suggestion – I sometimes think of shaving my head! (Is thought father to the act? or is fantasy ok-ish)

      I used to be against tattoos but now I find them interesting and as you say the reason they chose a particular symbol tells it own story … and the nicest people have them .. 🙂

      Thanks Deborah for coming by – white water rafting is terrific – I did it some years ago. I’m trying to remember the names of the different levels or grades when the raft was upended with the occupants – devil’s hole, mother’s revenge – oooosh, or rather whooosh! Now, I’d rather drive from east coast to west coast of the US in a convertible. Although the ride from Plett to Johannesburg today was rather hair raising, very strong winds and MUCH rain … plus I nearly ran out of petrol … thankfully back safely! Love Light and a lovely weekend to you, Susan

  8. Freedom of expression has its place, Susan, but there is also a concept of people being appropriate for a given situation. You wouldn’t attend a gala ball wearing a beach dress so why do people think they can dress like that for work?

  9. I love the directions you’re taking your exploration of freedoms Susan, and I have no doubt you’ll take us on many more thought-provoking stops. Freedom of expression is probably one I hold most dear, and I hold artists who consciously push the boundaries as true alchemists in our societies.

    • Thanks Deborah so much – I’ll be using one of my son’s words (he’s a musician) in one of my posts, still to be determined which one. I know you’ll see to the heart of what he’s saying. May artists long continue to push the boundaries –

  10. Your last quote regarding freedom of expression especially rings true to me, as it reminds me so much of my family and their rigid mindset about how my brother and I were supposed to be. Suppression of freedom arrives in many ways. Your posts are excellent as they really resonate with me. Have a LOVELY day!

    • Thank you Gwynn – it really makes it so worthwhile to receive your lovely comment and to believe that they resonate with you. Have a great weekend!

  11. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl

    Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust – his body wasn’t free, his mind was free. I think all freedoms come down to exactly that.

    • Attitude as the last of the human freedoms – such wisdom – thanks Elaine. Young Kayla clearly nailed it as per her words. Attitude is All 🙂

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