Calgary Citizens Need to Beware The New Big Brother: Ourselves

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Calgary Citizens Need to Beware The New Big Brother: Ourselves

The concept of civil liberty means a great deal to me, and not just because I am a Calgary defence lawyer. While ensuring our rights and freedoms are protected is an essential part of my profession and the foundation of the legal system in a democratic society such as Calgary or Canada, these are not the only reasons liberty is so important to me. I truly believe that certain rights are natural and inalienable, and that any attempt to limit these natural liberties is automatically and by definition tyrannical and inhuman.

The right to form our own opinions. The right to express our own ideas. The right to define our own identities, control our own bodies, and in general to do what we will so long as it does not interfere with anyone else's ability to do the same.

The role of government and the law, from this liberty-minded perspective, is to determine when one person or entity's actions might interfere with someone else's liberty. When someone's right to play loud music interferes with someone else's right to enjoy their home in peace and quiet; when someone's right to fire a gun interferes with someone else's right to not be shot, when someone's right to express their opinion interferes with someone else's right to be associated with that opinion.

If that last one seems a bit complicated, that's because it is. And it's also the greatest issue confronting liberty today, in Calgary and throughout the countries of the world we generally regard as "free."

With Social Media, Someone's Always Watching, and Few Will Come to Your Defence

Stories like these, where potentially inflammartoy statements about events like the Fort McMurray wildefire can lead to occupational discipline and even the end of a career, exemplify the complexity of freedom of expression issues. Say the "wrong" thing or express the "wrong" idea on any form of social media, and you risk serious consequences in your professional life, which seems to be a limit on the freedom of speech, yet shouldn't employers have the right to discipline or terminate people who express views that could be damaging to the company/organization?

The fact is, the Internet and social media are swords that cut two ways. They give far more people a public voice, and increase the freedom of expression by giving everyone the potential to reach millions of minds within seconds. At the same time, they have largely replaced private conversations and the de facto freedom of expression that privacy affords. When all expressions are public, you are constantly a representative of the institutions and organizations you are publicly connected to: your employer, the places you eat, the community you live in.

Expressing something these entities disapprove of becomes more and more difficult without suffering direct and often severe consequences. Big Brother really is always watching, and always ready to react swiftly and decisively when it detects "improper" thoughts.

And Big Brother is nothing more or less than ourselves. We're the ones always watching, judging, and then wondering when it will be our turn to suffer publicly for what once would have been a private sentiment. Our liberty to react to expression is limiting our liberty to express, and I'm not sure what law will help break that cycle.

But I hope we write it soon.

A Calgary Defence Lawyer to Defend YOUR Liberty

There's one liberty Twitter can't take away: your right to a passionate and knowledgeable Calgary defence lawyer. If you or a family member has been charged with a crime and would like a free initial consultation, please contact me today.