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Freedom and Limitation of Government to Citizens in Stuart Mill’s Essay "On Liberty"

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Life contains my objectives. Living in the community versus living total freedom is a most common question to ask which create the main conflict in the World. That confliction created a political and philosophical view from many great minds. From Mill’s essay “On Liberty” he pointed out freedom and limitation of government to citizens.

Total freedom of speech it will be fine although with human unperfect. To understand speech and expression, we have to understand what is “Language” and how those evolve over time and power of a language. Second, we have to know what Mill’s “On liberty” discuss freedom in general and government involvement. Third, the definition of truth and how that is relevant to freedom of speech. And finally, why human error and imperfection of human being will influence the society unlike what Mill propose. How did language develop? After why the ocean is blue, it is a common question we had. There is enough research to say language, as we know of it, isn’t developed to easily communicate with people. From Research paper by David Simpson “Lying, Liars and Language” language was created to lie to gatherer to benefit themselves. If you are male who found a bear under the cliff dead, it is better if you lied to your gatherers that you hunted after fighting half a day to gain power in the community. Power of a lying created higher power in the society. Of course, we had a language before, but lying created more descriptive language and communication with using imaginary which lead developed bigger brain compare to apes. Knowing how language develops is crucial since human today lies a lot. One lie every 10 minutes. A lot of people died from rumors and speech from individual changes the world. From bullying date, about 55% suicide amongst teenager is caused by bullying.

Language hurts people. From Mill’s idea of Self-harm, there is no defined answer to consider hurting others which development of technology. The way we talk, even if they meant or not, people hurt every day with a speaking and a typing everyday life. People never knew what other say can change them in a beneficial way or negative way. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech “I have a dream” change the world in a beneficial way. But what if, opposite thing happened like Hitler’s speech. Of course, comparing Martin Luther King and Adolf Hitler is morally wrong. But, Adolf Hitler’s “Winter Help Scheme” changed the world in a negative way as well. There is no doubt that speaking is a most powerful way to communicate. The idea spread fast, the reason why verbal speech overthrows every other method of communication. But in current ages of Wi-Fi, the idea spread faster than ever.

With the introduction of Wi-Fi, six degrees of separation is closer than ever. A language is a powerful tool, we can manipulate society and can end people. We need a tool to restrict language but there is no way since everyone is different. Have you ever wonder, “why can’t my parents understand this?” With only a generation difference, there is a huge difference between people. The idea, view of a world, technology, jobs, future is different and change dramatically every day.

When Mill publish “On Liberty,” it was period between Louis the 14th (1643 – 1715) and 2018. From technological development and more complication on society created many of Mill’s idea from “On Liberty” to lose value unlike his period of time. The idea of Self Harm creates great general idea when the government should punish individual since most of the law is to provide safety to citizens. In the modern era with technology, everything is possible with a medias. What if someone threat others in YouTube comment because one got too angry. Since threat is low from lack of physical threats, there can’t be any punishment. But what about the victim of the YouTube channel? By the following self-harm, since harm wasn’t detected, there can’t be punishment. Possibility to harm others in 10,000km away created Self Harm ideas lose values although it contains freedom unless it harms others. Also, another problem is when Mill publishes “On Liberty” psychological study haven’t fully started which mean understand advance psychological effect about victim’s later on into a life isn’t calculated. Generation difference impact difficulty to fully adapt Mill ideas.

People lie, to gain power or to make themselves a better position in the society. But what happens if those people who represent you? A politician is a person who requires a vote to gain power from the office. To do so, a politician has to speak what the voter what to hear. Of course not everything they say isn’t a lie, but they will lie or extend their plan. With a total freedom of speech without any regulation, a politician will likely to lie in more extensive than another politician to earn a vote. If that’s the case, we are voting not to represent who we are but voting person who will not act what we wanted. Giving full freedom of speech creates chaos. People have trouble believing politician since they lie, if they can lie more easily without any restrictions, then there will more gap between citizen and politician. The truth we believed always changed. Pluto, we thought as a planet turns out not to be a planet. What is the definition of truth if truth changes? Doesn’t truth has to be absolute? Mill said since truth changes, there shouldn’t limit to say the only truth since truth is not defined. During dark age, Christianity ban to say all false and only truth that they believed on. There was a scientist who proposes new ideas, but since their truth of earth is the origin of the world seems more truth, they ban everyone who was against them which delayed the scientific advance of Europe. Banning to say only the truth created chaos to scientific research.

Banning only to speak the one opinion created by one organization create no other way to compare advantages and disadvantages which reduce human rights to believe in one matter. From Mill’s point of the possibility of truth changes over time, that means false will change too. By using the previous paragraph, Christianity false of how the earth is orbiting the sun turned out to be the truth. False as what we believed could mean truth so we can speak whatever false we want since they can turn into truth, right? By extending Mill’s point of Truth changes over time, false will change too so it’s ok to speak whatever false we want since they might change to the truth one day. But, that’s not the truth for many people. Judgment from other of what they say is enough for people who don’t speak falsely although they might believe it as a truth which is not always good. It takes one brave person to change false into the truth. The LGBT community received discrimination just because they express who they were in many countries until the modern era. Gay rights organization in 1924 was earliest in the USA of gay rights. Although, still LGBT community still get hates crime (2016 Orlando.) People don’t speak falsely because its false at that point and not worry about how the truth they speak will change. Of course, it’s following false isn’t ideal. We call organization such as Neo-nazi false, but they believed their idealism is the truth so as Hitler when he sentences everyone with Jewish to a concentration camp. Expressing false you believed is crucial since one day the false everyone believed might to be truths but because most of the exception is higher having boundaries to expressing false is indispensable.

People tend to worry about what they will say will influence the future outcome. Such as, “What if people will judge me because what I said?” those aspect is important since imagining what they didn’t saw differentiate animal and person such as religion. People judging other created filter of a language barrier to speak what’s true and what’s false and it was enough to speak only the truth and limited to say false. By using Plato’s “Allegory of the cave” Truth takes time to adapted and not everyone will believe it like how cavemen didn’t believe casting shadow wasn’t actual object. If we think too ahead of our self, something like nuclear waste crisis will happen. In 1954 nuclear plant, scientist thought power plant is way more effective than any other way to produce energy. One problem was that they can’t handle the nuclear waste but scientist in 1954 believed since technology develops faster than ever, within a few decades, they will have solutions to nuclear waste. We are in the 21st century but there are no solutions. Thinking too ahead isn’t beneficial since we have no idea what will change. Same goes with true and false. If the individual believes the truth and false is valid, then speaking what they want to say is valid from social filter most of the people have.

Total freedom of speech it will be fine although with human unperfect. People aren’t perfect, people make mistake by saying or writing harmful materials and lie since our advance language developed from lying. Without a law to control freedom of speech, people will express their truth and will be against their false since humanity judgment to others created fear to speak extreme harmful materials. Hitler gaining power wasn’t the problem but his action during the war. We need a regulation of media since hiding under the cyber created easier access to speak more harmful materials than physical communication as well as a politician. Manipulating what people want to hear to earn vote is fair to the person who had actual dream wanting to change instead of lying to everyone. Lying causes people to ignore the factual aspect but hear what they want to hear.

Mill’s point of truth “On Liberty” is valid but the same goes with false. Both false and truth we believe will change one day but thinking ahead isn’t useful since we don’t know what will happen in the future. I agree on freedom of speech with restriction of expression in technology, but ideas of self-harm and changing of truth losses the meaning of truth so there should be no limitation seems too much.

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Freedom and Limitation of Government to Citizens in Stuart Mill’s Essay “On Liberty”. (2020, May 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from
“Freedom and Limitation of Government to Citizens in Stuart Mill’s Essay “On Liberty”.” GradesFixer, 19 May 2020,
Freedom and Limitation of Government to Citizens in Stuart Mill’s Essay “On Liberty”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Oct. 2021].
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