On Free Speech and Common Sense

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Twenty-three years ago, I was a fresh graduate who was keen on saving the world from every form of evil and injustice. My armour was my pen, and I was operating within the laudable confines of free speech. I got a job with the local newspaper in my state and embarked on my journey.

I was unmarried then and as free as a bird. My salary was pitiable, but I was still living with my parents, and my bills were practically nonexistent. My dad was a firm believer in free speech with common sense, of course, so he taught me to write and report on issues affecting the ‘average person’ and that I should be upright and fearless. I took his advice and within a few months, I got promotion from roaming the fields looking for ‘breaking news’ to having a desk at the State House of Assembly (our House of Common here in the UK).

I was hungry for news and reported on mundane and boring things like the House Members sponsoring a Bill etc. One day, I was finishing my report when a member of the opposition party approached me, and dropped a paper on my desk.

‘See me at the Press Centre’, he said quietly.

Intrigued, I wanted to know more. As a respectable journalist, I believed in reporting the truth; I have to be impartial.

Later that evening, I met the gentleman, and he handed over some documents that were so hot, I turned bright red. The governor of the state had misappropriated over two hundred and forty-one million naira, (equivalent of almost a hundred million pounds), and although fear ripped through my body, I stuck by my principles and arranged an editorial meeting with my editor. 

My parents were petrified. My mum voiced her concerns for my safety, but I was unperturbed. I was dabbling into the unknown world of mucky politics. My dad tried everything he could to dissuade me from publishing the story, but failed. 

Although my editor was delighted for such a large ‘scoop,’ he was hesitant. However, I stuck to my guns. The public deserved to know the truth about the misappropriation of funds, and we published the story. The effect ripped through the state like a tsunami.

Luckily, I didn’t die through assassination attempts on my life like my dad had feared. After the ruckus died down, my dad was adamant that I should stick to writing articles and novels rather than investigating corrupt government officials. I took his advice, and I was glad I did.

What was I getting at? You may wonder. I believe in free speech but with the emergence of the internet and mobile technology, everyone has become a ‘source’ and misinformation and online bullying has reached a crescendo. People should be responsible online, words are powerful, it can build people up, or it may destroy them.

There are several ways we can change our world, and I think it starts with kindness, which is in short supply nowadays. 

As a journalist, I believe in the power of free speech, but ‘keyboard’ warriors spurting hatred, racism and misogyny abound on social media, and that is disheartening.

The world is changing but if we think before we type anything online, we might be saving a life.

Think about it.

10 comments on “On Free Speech and Common Sense

  1. It is a beautiful story that does you honor, because freedom of speech is a good of humanity, and everyone’s passions must be true, to be a joy for everyone.

    • Seyi Sandra says:

      Thank you. Free speech is good but we also need to care about what we say online. I appreciate your visit to my website. Take care and have a great week!☺️

  2. Excellent article as always Seyi. It’s very sad that freedom of speech has turned social media platforms into breeding grounds of hatred. We need to be mindful of what we write and how it may negatively affect others.

    • Seyi Sandra says:

      Thank you. When we look at ‘free speech’, we realise there are things we shouldn’t say to people. But many hide behind anonymity when setting up online accounts, then use that cloak in writing terrible things about other people. We can change that narrative by being kind.

  3. Klausbernd says:

    Well, the question is how free do you want the speech to be. Where is the limit of free speech? We don’t want a fascist, racist and other extremist speech.
    Think about it.
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Seyi Sandra says:

      Free speech definitely has a limit. Being kind, careful by not hurting others is certainly important too. So, at the end of the day, using our commonsense is important, not just writing racist, divisive stuff online. Thanks for stopping by my friend.☺️

  4. danniehill says:

    What a great and brave story! It is so disheartening today reading the “News”. It is all opinion from both sides and people won’t look any deeper than a tweet or a comment on FB to form another opinion.

    • Seyi Sandra says:

      Thanks Dannie. Everyone has an opinion which is not a bad thing in itself, but just using commonsense and being kind; that’s what’s lacking in the world. Thanks for stopping by my friend.😀

  5. travliv360 says:

    amazing blog
    great content

    Please visit https://www.travliv360.com/is-common-sense-not-so-common-now/ for more information

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