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n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Vrye spraak, verantwoordelike spraak

Volume 49, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751

Abstract

In hierdie artikel word betoog dat vryheid van spraak, soos vryheid van denke en menslike vryheid in die algemeen, onlosmaaklik met mekaar verband hou en nooit oor absolute geldigheid beskik nie. Alle vryheid bly beperkte vryheid en moet met verantwoordelikheid verbind word ten einde te verhinder dat die vryheid misbruik word en baie skade aan individue en samelewings aangerig word. In 'n kultuur van regte en eise mag die belangrikheid van verantwoordelikhede en pligte nooit uit die oog verloor word nie.


Om egter die moontlikhede van vrye spraak te verstaan, asook die spanning daarvan met verantwoordelike spraak, moet verstaan word wie die mens is: toegerus met baie moontlikhede, maar met eweveel radikale gebreke. Hierdie moontlikhede en gebreke word oorgedra op alles waarmee mense te doen het - ook taal. Om vrye spraak nog beter te verstaan, moet dit ook vertolk word in die lig van die aard van taal. Taal kan skep, maar ook vernietig; taal kan as gereedskap gebruik word wat, ondanks suksesse, meesal groot beperkinge oplewer (die abstrakte dimensie van taal). Taal is egter veel meer as 'n blote gebruiksvoorwerp. Ons kan praat van die restant van taal waardeur die gebruiksmoontlikhede ver oorskry word. Taal word nie alleen deur mense gepraat nie; taal praat ook deur mense (die materiële aspek van taal). Vandaar die besondere skeppende vermoë daarvan.
Vrye spraak word van verskillende kante bedreig en moet dus beskerm word, maar dit kan self ook 'n bedreiging wees. Daarom word verantwoordelikheid vereis om met wysheid te kan praat. Verskillende riglyne kan hiermee help: waarheidsoeke, menseverhoudinge, noölogiese gedrewenheid en inspirasies, gemeenskapsvestiging, sinsoeke. Hiermee kom etiek na vore enveral "die oneindig veeleisende etiek van toewyding". Hierdie etiek vra toewyding omdat mense altyd in hul spreke kan faal; dit is 'n veeleisende etiek omdat mense maklik sê wat hulle nie wil sê nie en ewe maklik nalaat om te sê wat hulle weet hulle moet sê en selfs graag wil sê.


Human beings want to be free and that freedom finds expression in freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of action. This is a unique and predominantly important feature of humans. Other unique features like creativity and inventiveness can only flourish at best in a milieu of freedom. Freedom in all respects should therefore be embraced, cultivated and promoted.
This ideal of freedom can, however, never be without limits nor can it be absolutised. The reason for this is to be found in the nature of the human being. Humans are not flawless. On the contrary, they are fallible, mortal and finite. These disabilities are manifested in all their actions. All the freedoms they may take are hampered and affected by this fundamental flaw. For this reason freedom can easily be abused and it happens from day to day. Although the right to free speech should enthusiastically be protected and promoted, it should at the same time, with equal vigilance, be protected against itself, against its abuse in one way or another.
Free speech is a linguistic activity and for this reason the nature of language requires attention as well for a proper appreciation of the value of free speech. Two dimensions of language, namely the abstract and material dimensions are discussed. The abstract dimension enables humans to communicate in a straightforward manner according to the rules of language, logic and clear argumentation. In this regard language can be used as a tool; it can form part of sets of skills; it can be spoken. The material dimension of language, on the contrary, is loaded with emotion, beyond human control, and cannot be used by humans. In this case humans are used by language; language speaks through us. Humans have to be sensitive and responsive to the speaking powers and forces of language.
Freedom of speech and expression is hampered by the same problem. Since humans are fallible they also transfer this fallibility to their use and abuse of language. Although free speech can be creative and capable of building human relations and individuals it can also be destructive of relations and of individuals. For this reason emphasis is laid on the relationship between language and violence with specific reference to the mortal violence to which language can lead. Language can destroy; it can kill. For this reason no free speech can ever be absolute. And for the same reason the notion of responsible speech has to be introduced and kept alert and alive. Responsibility should enable us to utilise language and be utilised by language in a constructive way. This offers the only route towards the creative and inventive usages of this very special quality with which humans are equipped.

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/content/akgees/49/1/EJC20127
2009-03-01
2019-10-19

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