Freedom of speech is the freedom to say even stupid things. It is also the freedom to criticise, be criticised and to counter criticise. We have no right on the other’s freedom to speak. We can criticise that speech, however, and be prepared for the consequences of reaction or response. Whatever it is, I always maintain that one should have the freedom to speak whatever, just be prepared for the bouquet of roses or the brickbats.
I do detest, however, those who wish to limit or punish that freedom of expression, just because it sounds stupid and not according to what their ears, authorities, societies, nationalities, cultures, or religions, want to hear. You can argue that the speech is tasteless, racist, rude, I accept that. But once you start policing it, or even suggesting such things, I would condemn you.
Now, let me say a thing about this obsession and emotional madness over the defeat of national hero Lee Chong Wei. He brought home a silver medal, not Gold, and this apparently broke many hearts. This also got a DAP assemblyman into trouble over his unflattering tweets about Lee. But the worst that can happen is that people can accuse you of being unpatriotic and anti-unity if you do not support Lee or say a bad word about him. As if he is God? Puhleez ya. I do not subscribe to such obsession and will not be persuaded to accept anyone’s hero if I do not have the mood to. Sorry.
Malaysians must be clear about this. A sportswoman/man (artist/writer/whatever) can be a national hero but she or he may not be everyone’s hero. We must respect that. And so, just because you are emotional over what is said/done/spoken about your national hero; many others may not feel the same. For God’s sake, DO NOT FORCE other people to accept any/your ‘hero’ just because she/he is Malaysian. Some people have ‘global’ mindsets. They may like an individual for her/his talent/skills/creativity/expertise no matter where/which country/society/ethnic group/religion/political allegiance/social status/sexual preference she/he comes from. And yes, if you accept that freedom of speech can make people happy, it can also make people sad and hurt people’s feelings. It’s a choice we all can make without being forced by others. That’s freedom and that is absolute.