It’s not uncommon that certain ideals will have a political bias attached to them. The immigration debate, for instance, has long taken a left-vs-right structure, as has the gun debate. You can usually make an educated guess at someone’s political leanings based on the positions they take on certain issues.
But today, many seem to think this applies to one of the most fundamental pillars of democratic society; the right to free speech. Not only has the freedom to express oneself somehow become a controversial issue, but some people now see taking a pro-freedom stance on speech as evidence that one is somehow a right-winger.
This perception is both false and problematic. Why, then, has free speech suddenly become a facet of the right?
Recently, many supermarkets in the UK have voluntarily decided to impose a ban on selling highly-caffeinated energy drinks to children under the age of 16. In an interesting turn of events, the retailers themselves have decided to self-restrict in this manner, without the state’s usual heavy-handed imposition.
This is really a first for the UK, whose government is usually chomping at the bit when it comes to controlling our decisions. Be it protecting us from the dangers of cigarette packaging, or the second-largest party suggesting a ban on junk food commercials, or simply taxing all of our favourite vices to death, Britain is usually the European flag-bearer of nanny statism.
The unique British brand of state interference, however, has left teens in the UK with some rather juxtaposing freedoms. Here are three fun things you can do as a British 16-year-old (and three things you can’t).
Concepts of equality have long formed the keystones of Western philosophies. Revolutions have been fought in the name of equality, our courts are built around the idea that we are all equal before the law, and activists have spent the last century working to break down the systematic inequalities affecting our societies.
Freedom of speech is undoubtedly one of the most important features of any democratic society. Without it, knowledge could not be shared, injustices could not be called out, and the marketplace of ideas would be reduced to a single, miserable stall. Yet the state seems to need constant reminding of the importance of free expression; to them, it always seems to take second place.
Scotland will become the world’s first country to set minimum prices for alcoholic beverages, following a clearance for the law by the Supreme Court. Beginning in May 2018, vendors shall be legally required to charge at least 50 pence-per-unit. To put this into perspective, an average 750ml bottle of wine contains 10 units; Scottish vendors will thus be unable to sell bottles of wine for any cheaper than £5.00.
The idea behind minimum pricing is that the cheap, strong booze popular amongst alcoholics and teenagers will be less easily attainable, thus reducing alcohol-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths.
In reality, minimum pricing is likely going to do more harm than good.
North Korea could, arguably, be considered the nation-state equivalent of a time-capsule; a society perpetually stuck in the cold-war era. For all the hermit state has been discussed, it is seldom (if ever) noted for progression, growth, or change of any sort.
Education used to be the realm of the wealthy aristocracy; to be educated was to be rich, while the impoverished masses remained illiterate and ignorant. Today it’s a human right of every child, as enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.