Free Speech

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law that infringes on the freedom of speech or freedom of the press. This is an important rule that restricts the government from suppression of ideas. However, the constitution can only control the government and speech continues to be restricted in society under the guise of political correctness. For some reason, people assume that other people are not allowed to offend them or disagree with them.

In my study of the Armenian Genocide debate, I have encountered many times on both the Turkish side and the Armenian side, where freedom of speech is suppressed. Article 301 of the Turkish penal code is what is always cited as one of those restrictions on freedom of speech. Indeed, Turkey must reform this law and completely remove it. Fortunately, the law is already a joke, many people who are accused of it, usually get acquitted because of the specific situations in which the law can only be applied.

Turks are easily offended by accusations of the Armenian Genocide as they find it disrespectful due to the number of Turkish victims during 1915 at the hands of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation that has left a bloody stain in Turkey. Similarly, the many lives lost during the Armenian relocations have left another open wound for Armenians who are easily offended when someone denies what they believe is absolute truth: The Armenian Genocide.

The Turkish government should reform their laws in order to give the maximum rights to all people. They shouldn't be provoked by anyone's attacks or criticisms verbally or in writing.

The Armenian government as well needs to begin acceptance that Turks are their neighbors and that they need transparency and openness. Armenia must open its locked historical archives and let this dark chapter of history be exposed in its unfiltered form. Armenia must remove the law that bans Turkish flags in their country. Armenia must accept that some people will deny the Armenian Genocide and they have every right to.

You have no special right to not to be offended. You have every right to offend anyone you want because that is what allows the free exchange of ideas and achieves progress in a society. Criticism must never be forbidden; that is how we as a society, improve.

You have every right to dissent from your peers, coworkers, friends, family, and countrymen. You have the right to accept the Armenian Genocide or deny the Armenian Genocide, and do not let anyone's empty threats stop you. Do not let the threat of being labeled propagandist, denier, politically incorrect, or racist stop you.

In the academic and scientific worlds, the utmost important right is the right to disagree. If we did not allow this right, we would still think the world is flat.