Today is Amnesty‘s "Freedom of speech day": A movement to illuminate the lack of freedom of speech around the world. They encourage everybody to do something related to freedom of speech on this day, and this is my contribution.

Freedom of speech is one of the most important liberties in our lives. If we did not have the right to express our opinions, our lives would be radically different from what we are used to today. I doubt we would even have the ability to go to space if it wasn’t for freedom of speech. That does sound a bit too far fetched, but let’s think about it for a minute.

In the middle ages the church was the de facto governing administration. They followed the writings of a very old book and anything that contradicted that book was evil. Even though freedom of speech was not quite established in those times, it still existed. Astronomers and physicists discovered that the sun didn’t revolve around the Earth and that the Earth (and later, the solar system) wasn’t the center of the universe. If it hadn’t been for freedom of speech these discoveries would never be known. If the church had absolute power and repressed freedom of speech these discoveries would be repressed indefinitely, and the people making these discoveries would be imprisoned and maybe even killed.
What would’ve happened if this was actually the case? Had the church really suppressed this knowledge and prevented freedom of speech, would these discoveries ever get known? If we still thought the Earth was the center of the universe and it revolved around the Vatican, would we still have been able to go to the moon and back?

What does this tell us? Freedom of speech is an extremely important ideology. Scientists can publish their views on how they think the universe works, and other scientists can read these publications and come up with ideas of their own. People can have their own political and religious views, and they can speak out freely about them. All of this combined gives the people, not the governments, a power to make changes to our views of the world, a power to change how people are treated, and a power to literally change a country.

Unfortunately not all governments see this freedom of speech as a good thing. There are countries in the world that have limited their people’s freedom of speech in fear that they will actually make those changes to the country. People are being put in jail for something they have said or written, and some are even killed. The denizens of some countries want independence, but another oppressing country doesn’t want them to have it. Limiting their freedom of speech and censoring what the rest of the world has to say about it lets them keep their oppressing forces in place.

On this day, March 12th, Amnesty takes action to allow freedom of speech on the Internet and encourages bloggers all over the world to join in and write about freedom of speech. This is my contribution. Where is yours?