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The Evolution of Free Speech

            Over the years, there has been a progressive evolution of free speech. In Great Britain, the Magna Carta was introduced to protect the rights and liberties of ordinary individuals. The totalitarian rule, however, eliminated all forms of freedom in the 20th century but the advent of the English Invent Common Law restored the voice of the commoners (The Guardian, 2006). In a similar vein, the United States introduced the first amendment in 1791 to constitutionally safeguard the right to free speech. Free speech comprises the freedom to convey any views without any constraints. It is grounded in the principles of both democracy and classical liberalism (Heywood, 2007). Although free speech in society brings about self-esteem, shared responsibility, social evolution, and new ideas to nurture development, it becomes a limiting factor when people "deploy their escapist fantasies", that is, people take advantage of this privilege and use free speech negatively. (Meyer, 2001). This paper takes a critical look at the influence of free speech on the economic development of countries, examining the recent shutdown of social media in Uganda during their general elections. This provoked questions about the limits to free speech. In the light of this, should governments combat this issue by striking a balance between liberalism and libel? .
             According to the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), countries such as Switzerland (12), New Zealand (13), Ireland (16), United States (16), Canada (17), Australia (21) etc. are considered to encourage free speech since they all score a press freedom index of 30 or less (World Audit, 2015). In comparison, the GDP per capita (USD) of these countries that foster free speech is as follows: Switzerland (54,800), United States (52,800), Canada (43,100), Australia (43,000), Ireland (41,300), New Zealand (30,400) (World Audit, 2015). I used GDP per capita as an indicator for economic development because it demonstrates the value a country produces and how that value is shared among the country's population, in turn it is a good way to define the standard of living (World Bank, 2015).

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