Free speech and its impact on policymaking

The Daily Guardian

The manner in which a society organizes itself, in particular its political economy, has a significant bearing on the manner in which the concept of public morality is evolved and enforced. For instance, a theocratic state traces its moral precepts to religion and scripture, with there being almost no room for participation by the average citizen except for unquestioned compliance. In a monarchy, the source of public morality depends on the conception of monarchy itself in a given society. For instance, in some societies, the monarch was seen as an earthly representative of the divine whose authority was recognized and sanctioned by the clergy, and in a few other societies he was seen as a public servant whose personal good lay in the good of the people. In the former case, the source of public morality was the monarch who was, in turn, answerable to the guardians of the faith. Therefore, the duty of the monarch was to enforce what was deemed moral by the guardians of the faith, which is just a few degrees of separation from a theocracy. In the latter case, public morality revolved around the concept of and perhaps even emanated from what was considered good for the society by the monarch, which usually translated to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. A democracy too places a premium on maximising good for the maximum number of people, but what makes it different is the premise that there is a lot more room for accommodation of diverse voices with every voice, in theory, being equal in the eyes of law notwithstanding its station in the society’s unwritten pecking order. The inherent participatory premise of democracy and the promise of egalitarianism, howsoever illusory, ephemeral and superficial, is what makes it seem so attractive. 

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