Neglecting liberty opens door for dictatorship

Professor Obeng highlights importance of liberty and language in political discourse

Neglecting liberty opens door for dictatorship

Professor Samuel Gyasi Obeng, Senior Lecturer, Linguistics Department of Indiana University, USA, says denying others the liberty to express their opinions is tantamount to preventing society's moral good and blocking any genuine development.

The Professor said this in at an annual lecture on the topic ” Language and Liberty in Ghanaian Political Discourse”.

It was organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“Denial of liberty anywhere and to any person or group of persons and through whatever means, especially language, is a threat to liberty for all,” he said.

He stressed that intruding on the liberty of minority groups under the guise of so-called communal, cultural, or national values was not only wrong, but dangerous.

Prof Obeng said the centrality of liberty in human experience and social practice must be accepted, adding that liberty was a relevant aspect of nation building even if political actors ignored it.

“Theoretical explanation of liberty in our polity must be grounded in our social order and practice.
“Liberty must not be seen as a marginal feature of our . Liberty is and must be empowering,” he said.

The Professor described language as a cognitive experience constituted by mental images, emphasising language's inventiveness and adaptation to the country's intellectual, social, and political practices.

He underscored the importance of language in all sectors of the economy, stressing that “without language, no human activities will be possible.”

He said, “Words do not mean anything unless they are put in context.”

As the country prepared for the upcoming General Election, he said it was imperative for political actors to be responsible in their utterances.

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