Philosophy of Freedom of Speech
To understand whether the protection of political speech is sound, one must examine the justifications for it. This task involves showing the importance of preserving freedom of speech in a democratic society. Thus, an overview of the different rationales and theories of free speech provides grounding for heightened protection of political speech that lies at the core of the debate about freedom of expression. Also, it explains the theoretical framework in support of the claim of a necessary protection for political speech in a democratic society and the courts' attempt to strike the balance between the reputation of politicians on one hand and the freedom of expression on the other.1
Political participation in a democratic dispensation is not limited to the exercise of voting franchise nor demonstrations as well as protests. But, political speech is an indispensable value to democratically informed public and the principal means of protecting democracy itself. While it ensures public discourse in such free expression as political deliberation and criticism of matters of public concern, political speech subsists for the integral operation of democratic institutions that should promote the governance and the political well-being of the citizenry. The literature on free speech theory gives three key justifications – “marketplace of ideas,” “human liberty and self-fulfillment,” and “democratic self-governance.”
The “marketplace” metaphor considers the democratic society as an open market where people enlighten each other through a process of free interchange and competition of ideas.2 Milton, Mill, Holmes and Brandeis were the best known exponents of this form of free speech justification.