His only limitation to this freedom was
The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right...The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Notice that he did not mention “disagreement”, “offense” or “immoral” but “Harm”
Another of his famous quotes :
“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
Let’s see now some legal definitions of this theme:
UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures
US First Amendment of the constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
European Convention on Human Rights: Note the introduced restrictions that delegate to the “in accordance with law”
Article 9 - right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Article 9 provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom to change a religion or belief, and to manifest a religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society"
Article 10 - right to freedom of expression
Article 10 provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society". This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas.
Article 11 - right to freedom of assembly and association
Article 11 protects the right to freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions, subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society".
Tunisian Constitution : Chapter 1. More restrictions and vagueness but still "acceptable" if the spirit of the law is “respected”
Les libertés d'opinion, d'expression, de presse, de publication, de réunion et d'association sont garanties et exercées dans les conditions définies par la loi.
Le droit syndical est garanti.
Les partis politiques contribuent à l'encadrement des citoyens en vue d'organiser leur participation à la vie politique. Ils doivent être organisés sur des bases démocratiques. Les partis politiques doivent respecter la souveraineté du peuple, les valeurs de la République, les droits de l'Homme et les principes relatifs au statut personnel.
Les partis politiques s'engagent à bannir toute forme de violence, de fanatisme, de racisme et toute forme de discrimination.
Un parti politique ne peut s'appuyer fondamentalement dans ses principes, objectifs, activité ou programmes, sur une religion, une langue, une race, un sexe ou une région.
Il est interdit à tout parti d'avoir des liens de dépendance vis-à-vis des parties ou d'intérêts étrangers.
La loi fixe les règles de constitution et d'organisation des partis.
Les paragraphes 3, 4, 5, 6 et 7 ont été ajoutés par la loi constitutionnelle n° 97-65 du 27 octobre 1997.
Article 9 (nouveau) (Modifié par la loi constitutionnelle n° 2002-51 du 1er juin 2002)
L'inviolabilité du domicile, le secret de la correspondance et la protection des données personnelles sont garantis, sauf dans les cas exceptionnels prévus par la loi.
Now how far are these texts from reality???
The 1st of July I blog for freedom of Speech, a right guaranteed by our constitution. Logos (1) (2) (3). Mark your calendar and be there to exercice your right to talk freely about your opinions even if we made you think you're different, oppressed you, taught you to be embarassed of your feelings and beliefs. Break the chain and WRITE ABOUT IT.