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November 20, 2019

Freedom of expression does not mean discarding common sense

  • Freedom of expression and rule of law go hand in hand with democratic rights and human rights. If we are to move toward a new period with new systems, then we must give greater relevance to literary freedom, media freedom, individual freedom of expression, and so on.
    The literature censorship system was abandoned when the democratic transition began. It was done to pave the way for free literary expression and was done so with a national policy in mind. Regardless, it was a necessary step to amend the need for literary and information freedom, a basic right for every citizen, and the scrutinizing and censorship process was discarded almost immediately.
    The first wave of feelings that first overcame the public and literary circle was one of intense freedom. Artists were free to create to the limits of their imagination and the public could view them with no fear of backlash. Some artists were said to be overwhelmed with the newfound freedom and didn’t know how to contain their own ideas.
    However, this also gave rise to writers who couldn’t spell correctly, unequipped with proper grammar, or lack the skills to write compelling articles which would provide them with an opening to come up onto the literary stage.
    These same people got a taste of success and riding on the small amount of recognition they received, they began to view themselves as top experts and attempt to give guidance to society. They began to believe whatever they say is correct and infallible. They proliferate onto social media and speak as though they are leading the fields of politics, economy, society and culture for the entire nation.
    Similarly, they reach a point where they do not judge whether a topic of content is rude, gross or should not be made public in such sectors as the arts and films. Naturally, when people receive freedom, they do not know how to pace themselves and lose control. This can lead to public revelations of private matters or matters unsuitable for public viewing.
    Even countries with years of experience living under democratic forms of government have a system in place that categorizes media content on its level of appropriateness for different age groups. Thus, they have the ‘PG-13’ and ‘Restricted’ ratings. However, freedom is relatively unbridled in Myanmar, causing explicit content to surface in the eye of the public.
    Freedom is essential for driving all sorts of developments in a country. But is should be taken with a sense of accountability, common sense, humility and decency so that no one gets hurt and everyone is benefitted.

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