Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
STRAUSS, D F M. Freedom of speech in the just state - a philosophical perspective. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2009, vol.49, n.1, pp. 20-31. ISSN 2224-7912.
By virtue of the uniquely human freedom of choice that is characterized in a normative way and expressed in the human lingual abilities, it belongs to the task of the government of a just state to provide the necessary legal protection to the sphere of public opinion, in such a way that this sphere (which includes freedom of the press) can flourish. The many-sidedness of the state is co-determined by public opinion, keeping in mind that both public opinion and the modern state emerged recently. It is only when the diverse, uniquely natured legal spheres within a differentiated society are acknowledged and respected that it will be possible to allow for the dynamics of the just state to be co-determined by personal and collective (party political) freedom of speech and of opinion. Political parties operate within the domain of public opinion with the aim to convince fellow citizens to support a specific program of principles, although no political party as such ever occupies the office of government. As a public legal institution guided by an idea of public justice the state is called to balance and harmonize the multiplicity of legal interests on its territory, entailing its co-responsibility for the legal protection of the sphere of public opinion. If this does not happen the continued existence of the state will be threatened - as it inter alia appears from problematic elements contained in die proposed "Protection of Information Bill".
Keywords : Freedom of speech; public opinion; just state; harmonization of legal interests; legal spheres.