Insult versus Freedom of expression


This afternoon I was wondering about the boundary between the right to say or rather express one’s opinion and insulting someone.  Could there be a situation where someone thinks that he or she is expressing his or her opinions but others consider this expression no less than an insult? Will such dispute be considered as an ethical or legal issue? Who decides, on what basis that a specific statement, symbol, utterance, act or generally ‘expression’ is an insult? What is an insult in any case?

The dictionary definition of insult is to speak to or treat with disrespect or scornful abuse. Is there any thing called  cultural or religious respect on the one hand and universal human respect on the other?


2 thoughts on “Insult versus Freedom of expression

  1. I think, that ANY AND EVERY SITUATION could be described as a mere ‘insult’ as well as purely expression of ‘opinion’. Everything in that regard is purely a matter of perspective and opinion. However, I think what actually has the most value is intention. The intention behind something does not change what happens, but it does change the context that the something occurs within. . . which SHOULD matter to anything which is considerate of it’s surroundings. Intent, if it is intended to be hurful and insulting or mere opinion, makes all the difference to the non-arrogant person with a dedication to things that make sense.

    What is your opinion?

    -Michaela Jayne

    1. Insult is a relational term like identity in the sense that it demands the other.

      Insult is meaning in the sense that it is something created and become a reality through social or cultural processes.

      I agree with you that this is a question of “perspective”.

      Yet I also say the question of insult is a question of meaning and power? – who has the power to inflict a feeling of disrespect? Why do people or an individual feel disrespected in the first place? This is a question of context and such questions can only be answered by analyzing the meaning attached to the ‘insult’ and the context in which that insult becomes meaningful.

      When I say insult is meaning it means that whether it is intentional or not it is always positional in the sense that it implies the reproduction of a specific power relation or representation in a specifc society or among social or cultural groups … in which the insulting person or group is serving (consciously or unconsciously) as a medium. Hence the question of intention may be relevant but not basic here.

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