The Ethics of Expression

The freedom of expression is not for everyone. To be given the opportunity to speak in the name of principles is a privilege given by the public. Only the public can legitimize the existence of ideas and arguments because at the end of each day, the whole point of voicing one’s opinion is to persuade an audience. They deserve the integrity of the different ideas being presented in the public sphere.

Since speakers are given an avenue by the public, the audience deserves the respect that is due them. The public sphere is not a site for a spectacle of ideas, much more is the place where they should be saturated with ill-informed criticism thrown by different speakers to each other.

It is an alarming fact to know that the public sphere has become a site for the spectacle of ideas. Looking at the public sphere in this light does not allow one to look at the motivations and intentions of those who convey the message. Ideas in a site of spectacle conceal the realities that truly narrate the dirtiest secrets behind them. Deliberate attempts to keep these realities away from public discourse do not give the transparency due for the public to come up with truly informed choices.

Every utterance or gesture cannot be understood without considering the motivations put forward by the speaker. To keep on insisting that things are stated in the guise of ‘unbiased service to the students’ is hypocrisy. Every message, no matter how noble they appear, shall always be laden with power in order to satisfy the desire of all speakers for the Nietzschean will to power.

Biases are always present; it is only a matter of recognizing these biases and putting them into use in a manner that it will clearly promote the betterment of others without necessarily benefiting the speaker. Personal benefits and interests of others do not need to coincide. It is never easy to resolve the conflict of personal gain and its possible consequences, but if genuine service for others is what one wants to offer, he or she should be smart enough to know what to choose.

Freedom of expression over one issue is a privilege that can be enjoyed by those who have the moral ascendancy on the issue in question. Moral ascendancy is an important component of credibility, which in turn makes persuasion possible. One may have the charisma or the capacity to articulate himself using academic jargon over the most senseless crap, but all actions and ideas need to be grounded on the establishment of trust through credibility in order to be accommodated and legitimated by public. Apparent ‘objective truths’ and social relationships presuppose the foundation of trust in order to lay the possibilities for emerging consensus and dissent.

Failure to recognize and accept one’s set of biases, as well as commenting on things in the guise of the exploited ‘freedom of expression’ without the moral ascendancy to do so are the greatest forms of disservice one can commit to the public. Only genuine public servants wouldn’t want to pass this legacy to others.