The Value of Free Speech in a Democratic Society

When Government is Gone

In the world, there may be peace between people and the government, but corruption and unfairness will still occur behind closed doors. By human nature, if anyone is given too much power, they will use it for their own benefit. People notice this, but can not speak up because their freedom of speech was taken away and revolting against the government could get the person executed. François-Marie Arouet, also known as Voltaire, is recognized for declaring that having free speech in government systems is crucial.

John Locke is recognized for his establishment of the natural right of life, liberty, and property, which influenced the Constitution. In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the group of boys are abandoned on an island during World War II where they try to make their own society and government, which is led by Ralph and Jack; Ralph is the smart, fair boy and Jack is the bossy, narcissistic boy.

The boys on the island did not adhere the notion of free speech and the natural right of life, which are significant elements of government, and it resulted in the rise of anarchy.

The boys were struggling to govern themselves because they did not pursue the idea of free speech. Freedom of speech is the ability to express ideas or concerns freely without restriction. Voltaire was the first to introduce this concept. He believed that freedom of speech is important for a stable government (Charles). It is important to have this component so that governments can improve by taking in new ideas.

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However, the boys on the island did not heed this belief, resulting in the disappearance of civilization and order. When Ralph and Piggy, an intelligent boy, visit Castle Rock to get back Piggy’s glasses, a boulder, which was pushed by Roger, falls on Piggy “from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist” (Golding 181). The conch is a symbol of free speech, and when it “exploded into a thousand white fragments”, free speech then “ceased to exist”. The last piece of government is completely gone when the conch breaks. Slowly, order and civilization vanishes. When Piggy, who stood up for free speech, is crushed to death, the boys did not care about him, which exhibits the boys disrespect for Piggy’s right of life.

Many of the boys were fighting for their own lives because they failed to have the natural right of life in their government. The natural right of life is inalienable and entitles a man to his life and no one should hurt him. Locke was the first to establish this natural right and he believed that every man should have to live unharmed (Locke). It is significant to have this right so that there is less chaos between people and the government. However, some boys did not respect other’s natural right of life, which lead to many deaths on the island. When Jack’s tribe was playing a game using Robert as a pig, Robert was “screaming and struggling with the strength of frenzy. Jack had him by the hair and was brandishing his knife. Behind him was Roger, fighting to get close. The chant rose ritually, as at the last moment of a dance or a hunt” (Golding 114). Robert did not have the right to protect himself because he was “struggling with the strength of frenzy”. He couldn’t tell Jack to stop because Jack did not care if Robert was dying or not. That means that murder is acceptable because the government does not care about people’s lives. Anyone can kill another person because it is amusing. Because this natural right did not exist in the government, some boys lost their lives. The natural right of life would have altered the boys perception of stabbing one of their own members.

The reason for the boys failing to govern themselves is they did not regard the necessary parts of government: the notion of free speech and the natural right of life. In Lord of the Flies, Golding was trying to relate the story to real life. When the naval officer rescues the boys, he wonders how a bunch of young children can become wild. Instead, he did not realize that he is engaged in a war with the world just like the boys were fighting with Ralph. Golding tries to point out that every human being, young or old, has a malevolent side to them and that the world is cruel.


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The Value of Free Speech in a Democratic Society. (2021, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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