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The departure of Piers Morgan: How far is too far in freedom of speech?

6 mins read

On March 9 it was announced that Piers Morgan would be leaving his hosting position on Good Morning Britain, following backlash over his disruptive behaviour surrounding the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry discussion.

The comments which acted as a catalyst in this outcome, something which was a long time in coming, were his words about how he didn’t believe Meghan Markle had suicidal thoughts during her pregnancy.

He thought it was all an act.

Credit: Deadline.com

Understandably, Ofcom received a staggering 41,015 complaints after the episode aired on Monday, prompting them to launch an investigation which would subsequently contribute to Morgan’s departure.

Piers Morgan is a figure in British media known for being loud, abrasive, and merciless in voicing his opinions and holding people to account.

However, it was the complete rejection of a young woman’s struggles with mental health and suicidal thoughts that proved to be the last straw for many people.

I stand behind every single one of those Ofcom complaints. He had no right to deny someone’s mental health struggles. It was a complete abuse of his platform as it gave out the message to many others struggling that their feelings weren’t real.

This departure marks a victory for many people. The inevitable end to a man who had been given a platform he shouldn’t, as all he used it for was to condescend towards and disregard people.

However, like most things in life, there are two sides to the matter.

There are people who support his ruthless journalistic ways, believing that what he said was blown out of proportion and at the end of the day he gets a journalist’s job done.

There are people who argue that this is another example of the so-called snowflake generation battering down the right to free speech.

Credit: vox.com

But what is free speech really?

Article 10 of the Human Rights Act: Freedom of Expression, states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

That is the main message behind this human right.

But if you look closer into the law it does emphasise that “it carries with it duties and responsibilities.”

Duties and responsibilities. When we use our words, we have a duty and a responsibility to consider what we are saying.

We have a duty and a responsibility to think about how what we are saying will affect the people we are saying it to.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words, but I would argue that words hold a whole weight of their own that we must consider when we use them.

The media are not exempt from these duties and responsibilities. They are not exempt from the weight of their words.

If anything, the media is a structure which must be even more aware of what they are saying because of the power they hold in society.

The media influences. The media impacts.

Credit: National Endowment for Democracy

We may not realise it, but the media influences us in so many ways that we can’t even see.

I am influenced by the media when I read tweets or see Instagram posts which reiterate and echo my own opinions and ideas.

My parents are influenced by the media as they consume T.V. broadcast news on a daily basis, watching shows like Good Morning Britain or bulletins on CNN.

I often wish that we gave society a better education in the media, especially in today’s world which is driven by it.

I would like to think that if people fully understood how this pillar of society worked, then they would be more sympathetic and aware of how news sources create their narratives and misrepresent people.

They would be more sympathetic towards the Meghan Markle’s of the world.

People would be able to identify the good media, from the bad.

Journalists can still hold power to account without painfully reaching to be the loudest person in the room, like Piers Morgan did.

In my opinion, he gave journalists a bad name as he disregarded people’s opinions through his “my way or the highway” approach.

We can have freedom of speech in society, but we don’t need to bring people down and discriminate against them to do it. This goes for all members of society, journalists or other.

Credit: thefire.org

Because whether it’s social media, broadcast news, magazines, documentaries, or newspapers like Brig, we all have a duty to show a bit of human decency while informing the world.

We all know right speech from wrong speech. The invisible line which sits between opinion and hate.

At the end of the day, there is no free speech if we don’t listen to other people’s stories with the intent of discussion, and not the dismission of voice.

There are no prizes in life for being the loudest in the room, and Piers Morgan has certainly learnt that.

Featured Image Credit: people.com

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