Freedom of speech

Under certain regimes I also firmly respect the need for people with strong opinions that oppose the status quo to remain anonymous – the number of outspoken dissenters who have gone to prison or even died for their beliefs is frightening.

However, in a business environment justifying anonymity is rather harder and an example I received via email last night has really angered me.  I firmly believe that successful communications is best achieved as part of a two way dialogue, with all parties involved able to express their opinions freely and any negative feedback to be dealt with in a professional and open manner.  I also think both negative and positive comments need to be thoroughly justified.

So what has driven me to this rant?  Well, following the dispatch of a release on behalf of Kyoto, the client received an anonymous email that did more than just disagree with the content of the release… it was also directly insulting about one of the individuals quoted.  Taking each point in turn:

In my opinion everyone has the right to disagree and tell others they believe they are wrong.  However, if you are going to do so… make sure first of all you have a reason for disagreeing and secondly, where applicable provide some proof or form of justification for your argument.  Anyone that thinks they have the right to say “I am right, you are wrong” and simply stops there drives me up the wall.

As for the insult, again the individual concerned might have had some valid points… but without facts or a supporting argument it was no more than petty rudeness and a waste of an email – not to mention the time taken to read it.  When individuals use PR and marketing tools to stick their heads above the parapet and make a name for themselves, they should expect a certain amount of negative responses.  They should expect people to disagree. And they must learn to deal with contrasting opinions.  However, there will always be those who take a dislike to the individuals fame and react negatively – we can’t change it… but it doesn’t change the fact that in my opinion it is just plain rude and unnecessary!

As for remaining anonymous… it is simply cowardice and highlights the fact that they cannot back up their claims.  They are not going to be imprisoned, beaten or killed for disagreeing with some facts in a release about one of our clients so why not have the courage to say who you are, back up your opinions and start an open dialogue.

Freedom of speech should be a right, it should be available to everyone.  Sadly it is not, so those of us lucky enough to be able to say what we feel have a moral right to justify our opinions and not waste a luxury that millions of people would love to have and many people have died for.

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