It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. -Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)
Commentary: It depends on the government of course. In Voltaire time, European governments were not as fun as they are today, so his quote certainly applied while he was alive. It still applies in many countries of the world. Some people will calm it even applies westerly free countries like the United States and westerly Europe, but for the most part, I do not believe that is true. All governments, even free western ones, need to be watched and held accountable, that is true, buy you only need to watch the conservative news channels to know that we in the west have a lot of freedom.
But there are certainly parts of the world today, maybe most of the world, where free speech is not free. Speaking your mind is liable to cost you time in jail, death, or harm to your family. People in non-free countries are just like us. They want to speak their opinion without worrying about being harmed. As long as they cannot, the Earth will not be a planet of freedom, and humans will not be able to say that they value free speech.
Although there has been movement in the world towards more democracy and freedom of speech, this is not something we can take for granted. The moment towards greater freedoms in the future is not certain.
- What will it take for people to embrace freedoms for themselves and others?
- What ideology or philosophy will compel people to seek freedoms for everyone?
- If democracy and free speech and human rights are so good, why has it not spread quicker around the world?
- Do people really want freedom? And if not what is it that they really want?
Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking. -Wangari Muta Maathai, activist and Nobel laureate (b. 1940)