Writing Prompts: Right to Ruin

Where do rights to criticise begin and end? This is the concept I wish to explore within this particular prompt.

In many respects, the right to criticise can be considered an inalienable aspect of freedom of speech. My view is that nothing should be free from criticism. If your confidence in your ideology, beliefs, or concepts is vulnerable to a critique, then that speaks more to a lack of faith on your part.

As an example, I know of people who object to blogs written by atheists. They don’t like atheists telling their deconversion stories, or explaining why they don’t believe in God. Why? Because they feel threatened. Perhaps they are not as confident in their beliefs as they think. A bit of criticism becomes unreasonable in their eyes. It is not without irony that they will criticise other religions. ‘That’s different’, they might cry. No, it isn’t.

Everyone has a right to tell their story, and everyone has a right to criticise something they don’t like. That might not be easy for some to swallow, but that’s reality. If you want to speak of your faith to everyone (and a lot of religious folks will insist upon preaching to others, irrespective of their wishes), then you have to accept that people will respond. Freedom of speech is a two-way street.

That’s not to say that freedom of speech is limitless. As I have said before, there is a responsibility to use it wisely, and freedom of speech does not grant the right to be libellous/slanderous. Speak falsehoods of others, and be prepared for consequences. In this digital world, it has sadly become easier for deceivers to lie without consequence, thanks to the widespread use of pseudonyms and throwaway email accounts. It is one thing to criticise, is entirely another thing to make unverifiable claims. Integrity is something we can all struggle with, but wilful, deliberate lies, designed to damage another’s reputation… that’s cowardly.

So, how does this all spin back to ‘the right to ruin’? Simply put, ideas, ideals and concepts are not beyond criticism, and nor should they be. Desiring to silence someone because they dared voice an opinion different to yours is weak. Committing slander against someone who you disagree with is cowardly.

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