Society is a dictator in itself. It silences unpopular opinions, exhausts the tight structure of conformity, and hides behind its reflective surface. Society will hear what it wants to hear, and reduce to silence what it deems undesirable. Wearing masks of pop-idols, and hidden behind acts of charity, it is easy to believe that our thoughts are free. 

But how expensive are our thoughts, really? What is the cost of our freedom of speech, and why should we pay for it, in the first place?

The Montgomery County Alabama arrest logs and civil rights mug shots photographs from the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56) and the Freedom Rides (1961).

The Montgomery County Alabama arrest logs and civil rights mug shots photographs from the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56) and the Freedom Rides (1961).

Contemporary society imposes a new binary of us, enjoying the ease of normality, and them celebrities, enjoying the spotlight. As they reach increasing levels of visibility, celebrities seem to paradoxically be strangers to the suppression of their freedom of speech. They are the cells which can mutate, and they often do, exposing their eccentric beliefs and wearing telephones as head accessories, only to be scrutinised and tainted by the media. Why is it that freedom requires a six-digit bank balance, and a face that looks permanently photoshopped? 

More importantly, why do we let this happen? Why do we, the public, place so much weight on the voice of celebrities, almost exclusively on account of their visibility? Perhaps it’s the fear of causing offense and being judgemental, but we shouldn’t be scared of our own voices, as they might attempt to penetrate the seemingly hermetic sphere of the hyper-visible. There are too many things provoking genuine fear around us: we face potential fatality every day. We constantly live in fear of weather calamities, global warming, and war. Surely, these fears outweigh the fear of being heard, rejected, and silenced.

A holographic "ghost protest" held in South Korean capital Seoul against the erosion of free speech in the country. Photo by Associate Press, February 2016.

A holographic "ghost protest" held in South Korean capital Seoul against the erosion of free speech in the country. Photo by Associate Press, February 2016.

It can be difficult to balance bleak, relentless arrogance and self-righteousness with truth and empowerment, but it’s time to find the metaphorical mediator within. It’s unfair to let the people who cannot find this internal place mute the audiences; after all, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and to the freedom of attempting to share it in public. I see no issues with releasing ideologies and thought processes into the public space of discourses that construct our social reality. The point of humanity is to converge, to grow and blossom, and allow a suggestion to manifest into a beacon of optimism. 

Words are inevitably powerful. Words are the reason we are so evolved as a species, and we are all equally entitled to use them.

Don’t let society tell you otherwise, don’t voluntarily repress your potential! Be fearless and be heard!

Words: Abbie Dodson

Copy edited by: Elena Stanciu