Define "Freedom Of Speech"

My wife is contemplating closing her blog. There are a number of reasons for this which, if you are really bothered about, you can mail me or her about (visit it over here but the basic reason is this - she can express an opinion without being told that it is wrong and that sucks.

There are a lot of people who read her, and used to read me but who can't be arsed now, that disagree with certain issues she has expressed an opinion on. Abortion, Creationism, things that in this country and abroad that amuse or annoy her yet these people (and they shall remain nameless) refuse in public to condem that which they are quite happy to condem in an email.


In countries that give us the right to express our viewpoints and opinions they are scared because...? Well peer pressure and wanting to be seen to be happy smiley people that get on with everyone else. Promotion of discussion and a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions are the cornerstones of free speech surely? I don't agree with anti-abortionists but I am willing to discuss and exchange opinions and viewpoints (not ranters), I don't agree with Creationists but am willing to listen to the arguments and points supporting their views and opinions. What I am NOT prepared to do is to be brow-beaten or ranted at. I admire intelligent articulate people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, no matter what "public opinion" may say otherwise.

Worse still are the people (I would name names but what's the point) who belittle her opinion because she is a woman. Sexist mysoginistic people like that belong in a nice Iranian town or in the Dark Ages. These same people avoid me not because my points are any better or more succinct but simply because I am a man.

Express your opinions. Do not bow to peer pressure. For god's sake you had that all throughout your school life, why continue it now you are an adult? Your democracy safeguards your rights to this so don't let the thought that someone may like you less stop you from doing it. They should respect you more for it and if they think less of you then they are not worth knowing.

You mourn the passing of her blog yet offer no direct encouragement for her to continue. I have talked to her about this. I feel she is stopping for the wrong reasons or maybe she should start a new one for a fresh start. You should tell her what you think, how you feel, comment on the things that matter to you and offer your opinion. Meeting nice people (step forward Harvey, Contagion, Boudicca, That1Guy, OneHappyDogSpeaks, JohnnyO) is fantastic - I am a poor friend because I do not visit but I would much rather you guys emailed me than waited for me to post (and I lost all your email addresses in the great computer crash of '05). However that is not enough. We cannot attend blogmeets, but we can talk (step forward Skype and my headset). Make us feel wanted please.

So I finish with a challenge. Define "Freedom Of Speech" in your eyes, what it means to you.