Index on Censorship held its latest Draw the Line workshop with the young associates of Ovalhouse theatre in south London. The young associates are the theatre’s steering group for the national Truth about Youth initiative, which aims to challenge and change negative perceptions about young people, by supporting projects which enable them to work with adults, the media and the wider community. The group individually explored different freedom of expression issues before examining this month’s question “Do laws restrict or protect free speech?” in more detail as a group.
Young Associate Jordan Mitchell shares his experience of the workshop:
Going into the freedom of expression workshop, I had a couple of questions in mind; who defines freedom? Does freedom mean something different to each person? And how do we draw the line between free expression and infringing on another person’s freedom and sense of self? As a young associate, my colleagues and I are actively involved in the community, and one of the things we encourage and are encouraged to do ourselves is to appreciate different opinions, and respect that everyone has the right to that opinion.
The exercises were informative and engaging, particularly the “belief scale” (this involves being given a statement and having to answer how far you agree/disagree by positioning yourself on an invisible line across the room with either end representing “agree” or “disagree”). Often the questions posed to us led to a spread across the scale, which showed how varied opinions can be, even in a group containing people with similar interests. The great thing about it was that the reasoning put forward by people was incisive, and even if my view didn’t change, I understood and accepted that point of view.
One thing was reaffirmed in my mind at the end. Freedom of expression is limited dependent on who you know. Influence plays a big part, and tying in with the work that we do as young associates, something has to be done to build more platforms for people to be heard.