The Responsibility Underlying Freedom of Expression: Balancing Rights with the Respect for Human Dignity

By Jaseem Pasha, MD
Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Personal opinions do not count in matters that pertain to embracing and upholding the principle of respect for inherent human dignity without excluding anyone.

When discussing the balance between freedom of expression and human dignity, it is essential to highlight that while democracy protects a wide range of ideas, beliefs, and doctrines under free speech, not all expressions are conducive to respecting and upholding human dignity. Examples of such situations include hate speech, extremist ideologies, and discriminatory practices that, although they may be protected under the guise of free expression in some democratic societies, fundamentally violate the principle of human dignity. Below are a few examples that illustrate this conflict:

The principle of respect for human dignity overrides all social norms and laws, even when it means limiting individual expressions of opinion that harm or undermine the dignity of others. This principle is integral to creating a just, equitable, and peaceful society where everyone is valued and respected.

Everyone has a right to have any opinion, belief, or worldview and favor or reject any inclination or preference so long that it does not infringe on anyone else’s space or lifestyle. But there are principles and always-on laws of nature, which are not subject to anyone’s opinion or approval, like physical and biological laws encompass biological empathy, biological altruism, and the biological greater good principle, without which human evolution could not have occurred.

One principle not subject to anyone’s scrutiny regarding humanity is respecting inherent human degree without excluding anyone, where anyone’s opinion, belief, religion, culture, or traditions do not count. This principle is so crucial that without embracing this principle, a “civilized society” becomes a hoax and must be rejected even if it sounds too undemocratic.

Discriminatory Practices

Discriminatory practices and beliefs, even if culturally or historically rooted, that justify inequality or exclusion based on gender, race, caste, or any other attribute challenge the notion of inherent human dignity. Such practices may be protected under religious freedom or cultural expression but violate the fundamental principle that all humans are equal in dignity and rights.

Democracy is a tool of governance, not a source of morality and ethics.

Remember, democracy is only a tool of governance, not a root source of morality and ethics, which are exclusively derived from the principle of respect for human dignity. Democracy cannot replace or substitute the principle of respect for human dignity.

Only political Machiavellian psychopathy claims and encourages the exaggerated role of democracy to deviate people’s worldview from focusing on the criterion of respect for inherent human dignity to rationalizing obsessing a self-centered worldview that allows the destruction of well-established nations to oblivion, like what we saw in the Middle East, where “regime change” policy to inject “democracy” resulted in multiple instances of genocide, reckless bombing, destruction of entire infrastructure and millions of citizens forcefully displaced.

This disgraceful democracy mania successfully placed a blind spot on the colossal role of the principle of respect for inherent human dignity. It globally deprived the masses of the only reliable criterion of ethics and morality that can genuinely protect their dignity and rights and keep them safe from ongoing dehumanization.

In other words, democracy was cleverly weaponized to eliminate respect for human dignity, and the naivety of the masses was too intense to see through it.

One cannot claim to be embracing the principle of respect for inherent human dignity and at the same time adhere to an ideology that inherently increasingly escalates potential to the dehumanization of one or more persons and even a chain of devastations of entire nations, one after another, that is militarily too weak to defend themselves.

But our politicians, political parties, social scientists, and academia quite frequently project democracy as an institution of freedom and human rights and shamelessly remain silent and make faces when respect for inherent human dignity is promoted as a bedrock of ethics and morality of a civilized society, marginalizing it as being “unrealistic” and “impractical.”

While some democracies allow hate speech to a certain extent under freedom of expression, it directly undermines the dignity of those targeted, promoting division and hostility rather than understanding and respect.

Extremist ideologies, which can range from radical political doctrines to extreme religious beliefs, often advocate for the suppression or harm of others based on these ideologies.

Opinions based on extreme ideologies, such as Nazism, Fascism, Hindutva, Zionism, New Christian Right, and Radical Islamism, do not count when they contribute to harm or infringe upon the rights and dignity of others. Even when these beliefs are allowed to be expressed freely in a democratic context, they can lead to the dehumanization of individuals or groups, contradicting the principle of human dignity.

Propaganda for War

The promotion or justification of war or conflict under nationalistic or ideological grounds can also be protected as free expression. However, such propaganda ignores the human dignity of those affected by conflict, including non-combatants and the opposing side, and can lead to widespread violations of human rights.

Social Greed

Many educated individuals conveniently assume that greed is genetic or a part of human nature, and therefore, following the principle of respect for inherent human dignity or trying to remain honest in one’s dealings is unrealistic, unpragmatic, and irrational. Applying false assumptions in the interpretations of biological laws when they seem profitable is dangerous, provides false rationalization, and encourages economic dehumanization.

While it’s true that competition and self-preservation are aspects of biological life, human beings are also inherently capable of empathy, cooperation, and altruism. These traits have been crucial to our species’ survival and development. Modern interpretations of Darwinism acknowledge that cooperation and social bonds are as much a part of human evolution as competition.

The inclination towards greed overlooks the broader spectrum of human capabilities and the essential role of ethical and moral reasoning in shaping human societies.

The commitment to respecting human dignity is not an unnatural act; instead, it is a recognition of the complexity of human nature and an aspiration to live up to our highest potential. Upholding human dignity ensures that society benefits all its members, facilitating collective progress that includes economic, social, and cultural development rather than fostering an environment where only the fittest survive at the expense of everyone else.


These examples underscore a critical point: the right to freedom of expression is responsible for respecting all individuals’ dignity.

Democracies must be navigated as a governance tool based on respect for inherent human dignity – the ultimate source of all human rights, peace of mind, and justice. Unless a nation’s constitution distinctly and comprehensibly describes the constitution’s purpose being to ensure that all policies of the government must preserve the principle of respect for the inherent human dignity of all denizens, regardless of their diversity or citizen’s legal status, the institution of democracy can only serve as a platform for dehumanizing humanity domestically and abroad.

Respect for human dignity has a primacy over any right to free speech or individual freedom without excluding anyone. People must understand that there is a hierarchy of principles that only a few politicians, religious leaders, philosophers, or academia comprehend.

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