I help run a Philosophy cafe, and this week the topic was about freedom and freedom of speech (in its widest sense which includes music, art, video and even social media). In our discussions, I realised that our intentions are important – and when there is the intention to harm someone, then I think that freedom of speech should be limited.
However, in relation to our autistic son, we need to teach him what he can and cannot say, as he doesn’t have a filter as to what is appropriate. We also have to teach him what he can and cannot write on social media…one rule that I hope to teach him is never to attack people through his words (and of course deeds).
Debates and discussions are so important, but when it moves to the individual as a person, then that moves from debate and discussion to being a personal attack – and thus causing harm to an individual. We need to be prepared to interrogate our beliefs through discussions, but at the same time (as one of my students also noted) respect for each other is so important.