The Ethics of Human Dignity and Freedom of Expression

  • Clifford G. ChristiansEmail author
Part of the Contemporary Gulf Studies book series (CGS)


When human dignity is a universal principle and not defined in Eurocentric terms, it means honoring the intrinsic worthiness of all human beings. The issue for the Al Jazeera Media Network as an international organization is whether in its programming and policies, it is committed and how, to the ethical principle of human dignity. In the Eurocentric North, human dignity is anchored in individual rights and the legal order. An ethics of human dignity, rooted in the dignity of everyone without exception, is a cross-cultural idea in the monotheistic religions (Islam-Christianity-Judaism), Confucius, Immanuel Kant, and African communalism. It is affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The normative principle of human dignity insists on gender equality in the profession, on affirming the identity of the marginalized, and on ethnic diversity. These issues are treated where appropriate throughout the book. For this chapter, the ethics of human dignity as inherent worthiness is applied to language considered offensive because of race or religious extremism, cyber hate speech, and atrocious images. Following this ethical principle for organizational culture, freedom of expression is a fundamental prerogative of the news media in opposing censorship. This chapter argues that the issues of free expression and censorship in the Al Jazeera Media Network should not be based on the Western concepts of John Locke and John Stuart Mill, but should be governed by the cross-cultural definition of human dignity as the intrinsic worthiness of human life.


Freedom of expression Hate speech Human dignity Media ethics News media Universals 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IllinoisChampaignUSA

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