Let’s say your government has a new tax plan due to a 15 percent raise in wages. The opposition is not satisfied calling for a tax cut. You being a patriot, you choose to join in a protest. There are law enforcement and none is arrested. Your boss certainly hears of this and doesn’t raise your salary to compensate. A few of the workers together with you protest, and are fired. How is that a thing? Doesn’t the constitution demand the freedom of expression to all manner of persons? Why didn’t the government arrest you for the protest, but your boss fired you?
Related media: Freedom Of Speech: Crash Course Government And Politics #25
Are You Really Free?
First thing first, before we explain why we stated that fact, let’s take a crash course of what you are really free to do by the constitution. In most countries, the constitution gives its citizens certain civil rights and liberties that all manner of persons are entitled to. For instance, the freedom of speech, of expression, of religion, of association, and the list goes on. What this means is that, citizens are given the rights, i.e., freedom to say, do, worship or join whatever religion or association they freely want. Sounds good, right? But there’s a catch.
Let’s now talk about your civil rights, and what civil liberties are, if you think they’re synonymous, they aren’t. Civil rights guarantee equal citizenship, and are means to protect citizens from being discriminated against. Civil liberties, on the other hand, are limitations placed on the government — certain things the government can’t do that might interfere with your personal freedom. Good call, huh?! They can’t meddle with your affairs, right? Sure, they can’t. What this legally means is that, your civil liberties are meant to protect your civil rights from the government.
You Thought You Were Free
In practice, freedom of speech and expression mean citizens can publicly criticize the government on all manner of public decisions they might impose. For instance, if the government imposes a new tax plan and citizens feel like they’ve been taxed enough already, they will, and can freely protest. Also, citizens are entitled to say whatever opinions they have freely at the government without being charged for whatever they say. Sounds like you can call the president names and walk free, huh? Yes, you can. Now, here’s the catch.
So how on Earth in the name of the constitution will you be free from the government for freely expressing your thoughts, but not your private employer? Take note that the government governs by, and is governing with the constitution. But the private company you work for isn’t part of the government. Your freedom of speech and expression are given to you to criticize the government if they happen to be interfering with your civil rights, like your rights to vote, then you will, and can, call for civil action against an over reaching government.
So does that mean if your boss is mistreating you at work, you can’t call for civil action? You can. Here’s another catch: let’s say your company takes a decision that’s part of how they want the company to be run, you can’t call that decision off just because you don’t like it — it’s a private company, after all. But if the company does something that personally affects you in any way that deems offensive. For instance, if you’re boss is laying you off because of your race or gender, or even for no apparent reason, then you can call for action.
Freedom Of “Not Whatever” You Want
The constitution in fact gives each and every citizen the same basic rights and liberties, but the government is limited on how it can deal with those rights and liberties of the citizens. For instance, the government needs to be elected into office by the citizens, and can’t take any decision on behalf of the state without the public notice of it’s citizens. If the government in anyway does anything not in the interest of the state, then the citizens are freely allowed, by the constitution, to express their thoughts against them for whatever that action is.
But if for any corporate reason, your company does something that doesn’t infringe your civil rights, then you have no say with whatever that corporate decision was. For instance, if The Factionary chooses to take “Government & Politics” from our list of categories, our employees (and even you our reader), have no right to call for civil action on our decision. The Factionary is a private-owned company, but for the sake of your civil interest, we’ll keep informing you about how the government should function. So Government & Politics is still here.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Wed, Dec 30, 2020.