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Liberty to speak, write or otherwise express oneself

Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship or sanction. The term "freedom of expression" is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.


Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution
Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech ...


Blue Ribbon Campaign | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Display the Blue Ribbon to support the essential human right of free speech, a fundamental building block of free society, affirmed by the U.S. Bill of Rights in 1791 and by the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Freedom of Speech - Freedom Forum
Frequently Asked Questions - Speech ... Speech Overview ... K-12 public school student expression ... Free speech on public college campuses ... Internet & First Amendment ... Arts & First Amendment ... Personal & Public Expression ... Adult Entertainment ... Advertising & First Amendment ... Flag-burning ... Campaign Finance
Free Speech | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Preserving the Internet's open architecture is critical to sustaining free speech. But this technological capacity means little without sufficient legal protections. If laws can censor us to limit our access to certain information, or restrict use of communication tools, then the Internet's incredible potential will go unrealized.
Free Speech - Recent Court Cases, Issues and Articles | American Civil Liberties Union
Freedom of speech is protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and is guaranteed to all Americans. Since 1920, the ACLU has worked to preserve free speech.

Web Pages

The Advocates for Self-Government Penn and Teller
Includes photograph of Penn and Teller, profile essay and quotes
In their spare time, Penn & Teller are free-speech activists. Teller has spoken out against government mandated V-chips in televisions, while Jillette has been a vocal critic of the Federal Communications Commission's crackdown on "offensive speech." In a April 1994 interview with Reason magazine, Jillette said he takes "the First Amendment defense" about freedom of expression: "Congress shall make no law. As Justice Douglas said, those are the only words you need in that amendment." In 2001, the pair was awarded the Hefner First Amendment Award from the Playboy Foundation for their work to defend free speech.


10 Things You Never Knew About Orwell's 1984, by Anna Mathews, 13 Jul 2017
Ten brief items that most people are unlikely to know about Orwell and his novel
Though his book may be popular, Orwell's novel also makes the list of the world's top ten most frequently banned books. Some ban it for what they claim are pro-communist points of view, and others have banned it because it is anti-communist. Regardless, it is ironic that a book warning against totalitarianism is often an item for censorship.
Related Topics: Japan, George Orwell, Russia
3 libertarian takeaways from South Park season 20 (SPOILERZ), by Joseph Kast, 14 Dec 2016
Discusses the themes of the 20th season of "South Park", in particular the issues of free speech and online anonymity, groupthink and the dangers of traditionalism
We may like the idea of outing hatemongers and cyberbullies, but how do we feel about outing everyone's Facebook messages, search histories, or Amazon purchases? ... As Learn Liberty has said before, online anonymity is a component of our constitutional right to free speech. Threats to a legitimate exercise of this right have a pronounced, demonstrable chilling effect. And technologies (or laws) that limit free speech or anonymity for trolls like Skankhunt42 end up being used against everyday citizens too.
Related Topics: Conservatism, South Park Chat transcript: John Stossel on Free Speech, by John Stossel, 23 Mar 2000
Transcript of online chat between Stossel and viewers of the "You Can't Say That! What's Happening to Free Speech?" ABC News Special Report
Q: Aren't Americans naturally rebellious and therefore reject the notion of limited speech?
A: 200 years ago, yes. Now it seems many of us are willing to give up our freedom, bit by bit.
Q: Would the Congress ever dare to take back or amend this right?
A: I doubt Congress would repeal the First Amendment. But ever more intrusive laws, like sexual harassment law begin to accomplish the same thing. ...
Q: When someone wants to use foul language ... then what happened to my right of not wanting to hear it?
A: You can leave, but you don't have a right not to hear it. You have a right not to be physically assaulted. PHYSICALLY assaulted.
Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand, by Edmund A. Opitz, The Freeman, Jun 1976
Explains mercantilism, the rationales for political power, government's proper role, Smith's "invisible hand" metaphor, his concept of "equality, liberty and justice" and how a free society allocates economic goods; from a lecture given 17 Feb 1976
When people are free, there is no guarantee that they'll use their freedom wisely. Freedom of speech does not assure witty conversation, eloquent preaching, or lofty utterance. Most talk, as a matter of fact, is banal and shallow and gossipy; but no one on this account suggests we put a political ban on free speech ... That is what freedom is all about—putting up with things we don't like, and living with a lot of people we can barely stand! We must support the processes of freedom even when we cannot endorse everyone of the products of freedom.
America's Overprotective Sexual Harassment Law, by Joan Kennedy Taylor, Investor's Business Daily, 6 Apr 2000
Discusses how sexual harassment legislation in workplaces is not an appropriate solution and suggest of dealing with the actual problems
Men are warned that if they offend female coworkers they may be disciplined or even fired. Women are being instructed that offensive speech, if heard from men in the workplace, is probably illegal. And to top it off, the Supreme Court is requiring businesses to give those warnings. There is certainly a free speech issue involved, but from a management perspective the matter is worse than that: it's divisive ... Sexual harassment regulation has failed women in a changing world. It harms everyone. It violates free speech, creates rather than lessens workplace hostility, and fosters a Victorian view of women.
Related Topics: Law, Society
Ancient Greece's Legacy for Liberty: Personal Freedom in Athens, by Roderick T. Long, 24 Sep 2015
Discusses the political system of ancient Athens and the personal liberties it afforded its citizens, resident aliens and slaves
[W]hen Athenians boast of Athens' freedom of speech–as in Demosthenes' (384-322 BCE) famous remark that people were permitted to praise the Spartan system in Athens, but not vice versa–we have to recall that on the other hand Socrates (c. 470-399 BCE) was executed for his teachings, and that other thinkers who challenged traditional religious beliefs (such as Anaxagoras, who taught that the sun, moon, and stars were physical objects rather than gods, or Diagoras, who appears to have denied the existence of gods altogether) had to flee the city to avoid a similar fate.
The Ancient Roots of Chinese Liberalism: Westerners who think that authoritarian rule is China's natural state misunderstand its culture, by Liu Junning, The Wall Street Journal, 6 Jul 2011
Discusses the "Beijing model" as an alternative to Western economic liberalism in the future of China and reminds the reader of several Chinese scholars (Laozi, Mencius and the 17th century Huang Zongxi) who advocated liberal principles before John Locke
Constraints on political power and the protection of individual rights belong to all. The tragedy is that we Chinese don't have full access to these protections. ... Fundamental to this is the right to speak freely. China will truly prosper only when individuals such as Liu Xiaobo, Ai Weiwei and the many other Chinese patriots who speak for reform are safe in the knowledge that they can do so without a late-night knock on the door from the government.
Related Topics: China, Lǎozǐ
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Who First Put Laissez-Faire Principles into Action, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Aug 1997
Biographical essay, covering his life, works and involvement with the Physiocrats, as well as his accomplishments as an administrator
Turgot practiced freedom of speech. For instance, financier and politician Jacques Necker wrote a pamphlet Sur la Législation et le Commerce des Grains which criticized laissez-faire views and defended government restrictions on the grain trade. Turgot let it be published.
Areopagitica: A Speech For The Liberty Of Unlicensed Printing To The Parliament Of England [PDF], by John Milton, 23 Nov 1644
A speech from poet John Milton defending freedom of speech and expression
... books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. ... Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
Areopagitica: Milton's Influence on Classical and Modern Political and Economic Thought, by Isaac M. Morehouse, 15 Dec 2009
Discusses the four sections of Milton's 1644 pamphlet, the reasons for which and the environment in which it was published, and various lessons or parallels that can be made from an economic and political philosophy perspective
From the early 1500s in England there was a licensing system for published works. In 1640 King Charles I convened the Long Parliament, who acted to abolish the Court of Star Chamber, ... the body that censored political and religious expression in opposition to the Crown, and granted monopolies to members of the printing business ... During this period of free speech, new ideas and doctrines proliferated at an incredible rate in England. According to Professor Vincent Blasi, there were in 1640, 22 pamphlets published under the licensing regime, compared to 1,966 pamphlets published just two years later in 1642, with licensing absent.
The Bill of Rights: Freedom of Speech, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Jul 2004
Part of a series examining the Bill of Rights, this covers the freedom of speech clause as a barrier to censorship by government (and not by private entities)
Contrary to what many people think, the free-speech guarantee operates only as a barrier to censorship by government officials, not on the right of private entities to refrain from publishing material they don't like ... The most important principle ... is this: The true test of a free society in terms of freedom of speech is ... whether the most vile and despicable speech receives such protection ... even in North Korea people are free to publish popular and "responsible" materials. People have freedom of speech only when government is prohibited from suppressing the most unpopular and irresponsible forms of speech.
China: Wealth but Not Freedom, by James A. Dorn, 21 Apr 2011
Contrasts China's recent economic growth and statements of government officials with the reality of the rights afforded to its citizens, in particular to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, co-author of Charter 08
Before his sentencing in 2009 Liu stood before the court and declared, 'To block freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, to strangle humanity, and to suppress the truth.' ... Yet as Premier Wen Jiabao noted last August in a speech in Shenzhen, 'Without the safeguard of political reform, the fruits of economic reform would be lost and the goal of modernization would not materialize.' And in an interview with CNN in October, he recognized that 'freedom of speech is indispensable for any country.'
Related Topics: China, Lǎozǐ
Constant, Benjamin (1767-1830), by David M. Hart, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Constant wrote pamphlets defending freedom of speech, ministerial responsibility, and religious toleration and supporting a number of oppressed groups, among them peasants against their aristocratic landlords, slaves in the French colonies, and the Greeks in their struggle against the Turkish Empire. His work was often censored by the regime, but he attempted to frustrate the censors by writing pamphlets more than 30 pages in length (shorter pamphlets were subject to prepublication censorship) and by putting his most critical comments in the footnotes, which he was confident the censors would never read.
Related Topics: Benjamin Constant, France, Liberty
The Death of Politics, by Karl Hess, Playboy, Mar 1969
Discusses libertarianism, contrasting it with both conservatism and modern liberalism, including specific policy differences
Censorship is another notable example in which politics, and politicians, interpose between customer and satisfaction ... The liberal attitude toward censorship is not so clear. At this point, it needn't be. Liberals practice it, rather than preach it. The FCC's egregious power to insist that broadcasting serve a social purpose is both a liberal tenet and an act of censorship. In the FCC canons, social purposes are defined so that a station can get good points for permitting a preacher free time but no points—or even bad points—for extending the same gift of free air to an atheist.
The Delusion of Limited Government, by Butler Shaffer, 14 May 2002
Comments on watching the Cato Institute's 25th anniversary dinner in which speakers held up booklets with the U.S. Constitution while complaining that the document had "not restrained the power of the state"
For those who would put their faith in the judicial branch of government to restrain the powers of the state, take a look at how the courts have interpreted ... the "bill of rights" supposed limitations on such powers ... First Amendment "free speech" rights "do not include," or "freedom of religion" "does not mean," or some other right "does not extend to" an activity the state wishes to restrict. "Free speech" has long been subject to a "clear and present danger" test – a limitation not found in the First Amendment – leaving us with the realistic interpretation that the state may not restrict free speech unless it chooses to do so!
The Disrespect for Truth has Brought a New Dark Age, by Paul Craig Roberts, 29 Dec 2006
Compares past and present attitudes toward the truth and the impact of propaganda and other government actions on those attitudes, holding that "In America, truth has become partisan"
Recently, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, said that freedom of speech is inconsistent with 'the war on terror.' ... When the Clinton administration allowed the media concentration in the 1990s, the independence of the American media was destroyed. Today there are a few large conglomerates whose values depend on broadcast licenses from the government. The conglomerates are run by corporate executives who are not journalists and whose eyes are on advertising revenues. They publish and broadcast what is safe. These conglomerates will take no risks in behalf of free speech or truth.
Related Topics: Middle East, Terrorism
Does John Ashcroft Understand the Constitution?, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 22 Oct 2004
Uses a comment by John Ashcroft on Supreme Court decisions affecting "enemy combatants" to highlight the misunderstandings of the Attorney General, the Pentagon and the public in general, about rights, civil liberties and the U.S. Constitution
A few years ago, I was invited to give a speech to a student assembly at a public high school in Virginia. I began the discussion by asking the crowd, "How many of you believe that the First Amendment gives people the right of freedom of speech?" Just about everyone in the room raised his hand. I announced, "Well, every one of you is wrong. Can anyone tell me why?" ... After much discussion, a young woman finally said, "Yes, Mr. Hornberger, you are right. The First Amendment does not give people freedom of speech. Instead, it prohibits Congress from abridging freedom of speech."
Escape from Responsibility, by Sheldon Richman, May 1996
Discusses legal cases where victims attempt to hold third-parties (e.g., book publishers, gun manufacturers, tobacco companies) responsible for crimes or other harms
I don't wish to portray the author or publisher of Hit Man as admirable. They simply are not liable for the murders other people commit, even if the killers use the information in the book. Free speech and free press are easy to defend in the case of uncontroversial words. It is precisely when the words are controversial, even odious, that the friends of liberty have to speak up. If freedom was applied only to things that bothered no one, it would be an insipid thing indeed. The attempt ... is similar to recent legislative proposals to hold ... pornography publishers liable when their consumers commit sex offenses.
France Arrests a Comedian For His Facebook Comments, Showing the Sham of the West's "Free Speech" Celebration, by Glenn Greenwald, 14 Jan 2015
Comments on the arrest of French comedian Dieudonné for a Facebook post
This week's celebration of France – and the gaggle of tyrannical leaders who joined it – had little to do with free speech and much to do with suppressing ideas they dislike while venerating ideas they prefer. ... Bernard-Henri Lévy ... demands criminal suppression of anything smacking of anti-Jewish views ..., while shamelessly parading around all last week as the Churchillian champion of free expression when it comes to anti-Muslim cartoons.
Freedom of Speech in Software, by John Gilmore, 14 Oct 1998
Keynote speech at ApacheCon, explores areas where software is restricted, censored or otherwise controlled
The whole creation of 'software patents' as a class of patentable items is an administrative fiction created by creative misreading of a 1981 Supreme Court decision ... Export controls on cryptographic software are the second case where the government has tried to control the publication of software.
Free Market Thinking: Not Applicable, by Per Bylund, 12 Jun 2006
Discusses how many libertarians associate themselves with conservative political positions overlooking one important fact
Of course, the choice [of a job] is voluntary and in that sense the rationalist logic seems applicable. But the choice is still made in an environment where most choices have been coercively done away with and where the chooser is restricted from making the choices he or she should have made were it a free market. It is like saying you have free speech—only you cannot speak of X, Y, Z or A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J and K. That is not free speech—it is regulated speech, and what you choose to speak of necessarily depends on what you aren't allowed to speak of.
Related Topics: Free Market, Libertarianism
Free Speech Is Not So Free, by Deroy Murdock, 23 Mar 2000
Review of John Stossel's “You Can’t Say That!” TV special
Free speech is not what it used to be. Slowly but surely, government officials, plaintiffs' attorneys and political activists have chipped away at one of the cornerstones of American liberty. ... John Stossel's provocative program is a disturbing reminder that free speech is widely taken for granted, yet constantly under fire.
Free Speech on the Ropes, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Jan 2006
Constrasts President Bush's "we love our freedom" rhetoric with actions to suppress dissent by establishing "free speech zones"; tells the story of a protester arrested and released but then prosecuted in non-jury trial by the Justice Department
The Founding Fathers could have done nothing to make it clearer that the government has no right to gag the American people ... Nothing illustrates the new reality better than the Bush administration's hounding of one South Carolina veteran protester ... Brett Bursey, 54 years old, was arrested for holding a "No War for Oil" sign too near the hangar where Bush would be speaking. Local police ... supposedly established a "free speech zone" far from the airport hangar. Bursey was standing amidst hundreds of people carrying signs praising the president or his policies. Police told Bursey to remove himself to the "free speech zone."
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Ron Paul
"Free-Speech Zone", by James Bovard, The American Conservative, 15 Dec 2003
Provides various examples of "free speech zone" incidents as well as reactions in the U.S. and overseas
When Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones" where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event. When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002 ... The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president's path.
The George W. Bush 'What Me Worry?' Quiz, by Jim Cox, 2 Apr 2007
Twenty questions on what was George W. Bush's response to various situations; the answers provide links to supporting information
Since the First Amendment guarantees Americans freedom of speech, George W. Bush: a. followed the pattern of all previous presidents and did not interfere with people's protests at his campaign rallies. b. did a 'What Me Worry?' and restricted dissenters—and dissenters, only—to 'free speech' zones out of the sight of the president and the media covering the rallies. ... When the McCain-Feingold Finance Campaign Reform Bill was presented for the President's signature, George W. Bush: a. ... vetoed it ... b. ... signed the bill into law after declaring it to be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment ...
The "Good-Government" Attack on Free Speech, by Sheldon Richman, 1 May 2001
Discusses the freedom of speech and individual liberty implications of McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" bill (which later became law as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002)
What would you call a law that would prohibit corporations and labor unions from placing television and radio advertisements that clearly identify candidates during the final 60 days of a general election? McCain-Feingold would do that. Yet it is a clear violation of the First Amendment ... The Constitution makes no exception for corporations and labor unions. The only requirement should be that those organizations obtain their money through voluntary means. If they do, they should be free to place any ads they like. They are collections of persons and therefore have the same rights as their members.
Related Topic: Government
GOP, R.I.P?, by Sheldon Richman, 11 Feb 2008
Reviews conservatives' criticisms of John McCain and his positions in his 2008 presidential campaign as well as what the criticism may mean for the Republican Party
The conservatives are on firmer ground when they criticize McCain for his so-called campaign-finance reform. Every aspect of McCain-Feingold is without doubt a violation of freedom of speech, among other liberties. McCain has sanctimoniously insisted he's only trying to take corruption out of politics — as though that were possible — but in fact he and his allies in this cause are mainly concerned with protecting incumbents from "negative" advertising. The floor debate in the Senate made that abundantly clear.
Habeas Corpus: The Lynchpin of Freedom, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 11 Oct 2006
Commenting on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, discusses a hypothetical U.S. war scenario where the president extends MCA cancellation of habeas corpus to U.S. citizens criticizing the war and thus "aiding the enemy"
Newspaper editorials protest the [assumed] war ... [T]he president announces that criticism ... is helping the terrorists ... On orders of the president, [government] personnel begin rounding up recalcitrant newspaper editors, Internet critics, and anti-war protestors as "enemy combatants" for giving ... aid to the enemy ... "But they couldn't do that," people might cry. "The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech." Granted, but how is that provision enforced? ... What good would it do to point out that people have the constitutional right to ... criticize government policy ...?
Related Topics: Writ of Habeas Corpus, War
Introductory, by John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
Chapter I; explains the subject of the essay, namely, "the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual"
[Human liberty] comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological. The liberty of expressing and publishing opinions may seem to fall under a different principle, since it belongs to that part of the conduct of an individual which concerns other people; but, being almost of as much importance as the liberty of thought itself, ... is practically inseparable from it.
Is Free Speech in the US Doomed?, by Lindsay Marchello, 9 Nov 2017
Discusses events at various universities where protesters, equating mere speech with (physical) violence, responded violently to speakers or their sponsors, prevented the talks from being made or otherwise disrupted them
The problem with conflating 'hate' speech with violence is manifold. For one, hate speech is subjective. Who decides what speech constitutes violence? If the answer is the government, then civil liberties will be in immediate danger, as it stands to reason that the government will crackdown on any speech is deems violent or dangerous. Consider how the government responded to the civil rights movement in the '50s and '60s. ... Being able to openly debate ideas, even those deemed hateful by most, is a crucial factor for ensuring individual liberty can flourish. Doing so allows for the best ideas to triumph over other less appealing ones.
Related Topics: John Milton, Charles Murray
John Adams, by John Fiske, The Presidents of the United States, 1789-1914, 1914
Biographical sketch; includes picture of Adams (painting by Gilbert Stuart), photograph of houses where he was born; facsimile of a letter with his signature, and a section on his wife Abigail
By the sedition act, any scandalous or malicious writing against the president or either house of congress was liable to be dealt with in the United States courts and punished by fine and imprisonment. This act contravened the constitutional amendment that forbids all infringement of freedom of speech and of the press, and both acts aroused more widespread indignation than any others that have ever passed in congress. They called forth ... the famous Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798-'99, which assert ... the right of a state to 'nullify' or impede the execution of a law deemed unconstitutional.
John Stuart Mill and the Three Dangers to Liberty, by Richard Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Jun 2001
Evaluates John Stuart Mills arguments in his essay "On Liberty", in particular the three forms of tyranny posited by Mill and an element (private property) not emphasized by his analysis
First, we should accept the fact that none of us can claim an infallibility of knowledge or a final and definite insight into ultimate truth. Thus, we should value and defend liberty of thought and argument because a dissenter or a critic of conventional and generally accepted views may offer reasons for disagreeing that correct our own errors of knowledge and mistakes in judgment about the truth of things. Second, sometimes the truth about things exists as half-truths held by different people, and through controversy the truth in the parts can be made into a great unified truth of the whole.
Justice, Not Magic, Returns Harry Potter Series to Library Bookshelves, by Center for Individual Freedom, 24 Apr 2003
Update on a lawsuit against an Arkansas School Board that restricted access to Harry Potter books
... the court concluded that 'the stigmatizing effect of having to have parental permission to check out a book constitutes a restriction on access,' one which has been significantly limited by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that 'stress the importance of freedom of speech in the education of America's youth' ...
Related Topic: Harry Potter
Keeping Libertarians Inside the Tent: Alienation avoidance, by Randy Barnett, National Review Online, 22 Nov 2002
Responds to New York Times 16 Nov 2002 op-ed by John Miller complaining that Libertarians are "Democratic Party operatives" by offering suggestions that would make the Republican candidates more appealing to libertarian voters
Here are a few suggestions ... that would advance rather than inhibit a Republican political realignment: ... Oppose intrusions upon the Bill of Rights more consistently in Congress. Democrats used to have a far bigger edge over Republicans on the issue of free speech than they do now that their left has endorsed restrictions on politically incorrect speech on campuses and elsewhere and pushed for campaign regulations criminalizing political speech. Still, Republicans in Congress should be more principled supporters of the First Amendment than they sometimes are.
Kerry Complicit in Bush's Crimes, by Paul Craig Roberts, 19 Sep 2007
Comments on the lack of concern for constitutional rights under George W. Bush, as evidenced by the tasering of a student simply for asking questions about vote fraud during the 2004 presidential election, as well as the infamous "no-fly list"
At the conclusion of Kerry's speech, Andrew Meyer, a 21-year-old journalism student, was selected by Sen. Kerry to ask a question. ... Why, Meyer asked, had Kerry conceded the election so quickly when there were so many obvious examples of vote fraud? ... At this point the public's protectors – the police – decided that Meyer had said too much. They grabbed Meyer and began dragging him off. Meyer said repeatedly 'I have done nothing wrong,' which under our laws he had not. He threatened no one and assaulted no one. But the police decided that Meyer, an American citizen, had no right to free speech and no constitutional protection.
Related Topics: Due Process of Law, Rights
Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution [PDF], by Murray N. Rothbard, Cato Journal, 1982
Examines the principles of tort law, how to determine what is just property and how to deal with invasions of property such as air pollution
[No] one has a property right in his "reputation." Reputation is strictly a function of the subjective opinions of other minds, and they have the absolute right to their own opinions whatever they may be. Hence, outlawing defamation is itself a gross invasion of the defamer's right of freedom of speech, which is a subset of his property right in his own person. An even broader assault on freedom of speech is the modern Warren-Brandeis-inspired tort of invasion of the alleged right of "privacy," which outlaws free speech and acts using one's own property that are not even false or "malicious."
Liberty in America during the Great War, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 15 Aug 2014
Examines how various areas of American society were influenced by Woodrow Wilson's decision to enter the First World War, including Supreme Court cases decided after the war
An antiwar speech could get you indicted, tried, and sent to prison. Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs went to prison for delivering a speech against the war, although he did not call on young men to defy conscription ... We are indeed fortunate that speakers, writers, and publishers who today communicate antiwar messages are no longer treated as they were during World War I. That they were not so treated after the 9/11 attacks ... we might chalk up to the devout respect for freedom of speech and press that is nurtured by hardworking organizations and civil libertarians dedicated to protecting those freedoms.
The Meaning of Free Speech, by Charley Reese, 18 Mar 2006
Discusses the response to a Colorado high school teacher who compared President Bush's State of the Union speech to speeches made by Adolf Hitler
When the Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment, it was not their intention to protect politically correct speech. It is exactly the purpose of the First Amendment to protect unpopular speech. Read John Stuart Mill's essay 'On Liberty.' The value of freedom is the diversity of opinions and thoughts it encourages.
The Morality of Drug Controls, by Thomas Szasz, Freedom Daily, Apr 1990
Condensed from an article in Dealing With Drugs: Consequences of Government Control, 1987, Ronad Hamowy (editor); compares freedom of speech and religion with freedom of self-medication
We Americans regard freedom of speech and religion as fundamental rights ... It is a fact that we Americans have a right to read a book—any book—not because we are uninformed and want to learn from it, not because a government-supported educational authority claims that it will be good for us, but simply because we want to read it and because the government—as our servant rather than our master—does not have the right to meddle in our private reading affairs.
The Most Absurdities per Kilo, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Feb 2006
Describes Operation Pipe Dreams, a group of raids led by the Department of Justice to confiscate drug paraphernalia, and particularly the attack on Tommy Chong's residence, subsequent arrest and sentencing
Chong's arrest sparked ridicule far and wide, including barbs from both David Letterman and Jay Leno ... Chong continued doing his comedy routine pending his trial. When asked his views ..., he replied, "I feel pretty sad, but it seems to be the only weapons of mass destruction they’ve found this year" ... He was also forced to promise the judge that he would not profit from his arrest and prosecution. This effectively destroyed Chong's freedom of speech to discuss his case in future comedy performances. At least in Chong's case, mocking the feds will now be a federal offense.
The New Witchcraft, by Joan Kennedy Taylor, Free Inquiry, 2002
Discusses the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, after the Supreme Court in Oct 2001 heard the case against it, but before it rendered its judgement in Apr 2002
The long history of First Amendment jurisprudence—which has decided in case after case that "giving someone ideas" that might lead to bad conduct is protected speech unless the incitement is immediate (Go do this now!)—should be overturned, argues the government in defending the CPPA, when the ideas involved are sufficiently evil. ... Did Congress have reason to decide that the distribution, indeed the very possession, of such materials can never be justified? Was there proof of their evil effect? Who needs proof? ... This law allows for no possible 'literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,' and the result is chilling.
Related Topic: Children
Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four Describes the Authoritarian Left Better Than It Does Trump, by Brendan O'Neill, 20 Feb 2017
Examines the resurgence in popularity of the title work and argues that those on the left who read it seeking answers to Donald Trump's authoritarianism may instead find more reflections of their own behavior
Student officials in Britain have banned the making of 'animal noises' in the student bar lest they arouse sexual bravado in men, and sexual dread in women. ... Witness the doublespeak of today's leftist lovers of censorship. They create Safe Spaces, they speak of 'the right to be comfortable'. These are darkly Orwellian euphemisms for censorship. The Party would be proud of these people who have successfully repackaged the expulsion of unpopular views as 'safety' and 'comfort'; who will use actual threats and force—see the Berkeley stink—to secure students' 'safety' against unpleasant ideas. War is Peace, Violence is Safety, Censorship is Comfort.
Related Topic: George Orwell
Peace and Pacifism, by Robert Higgs, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Reviews what prominent classical liberals and libertarians had to say on the subject of peace and war, as well as the history of United States wars from the War of 1812 to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the efforts of those who opposed them
Once [the U.S. entered World War I], the Wilson administration created a draconian, multifaceted system to repress resisters, based, in large part, on the draft laws and on the Espionage Act of 1917 and its notorious amendment, the Sedition Act of 1918. Under its oppressive statutes, practically any form of resistance to or any criticism of the government, its actions, or its symbols exposed the critic to felony prosecution ... Frequent presidential candidate and Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison for making a speech whose content the government disapproved.
Political Science, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 18 May 2007
Reviews Frank Van Dun's 1986 paper titled "Economics and the Limits of Value-Free Science" and its implications for making an objective case for ethics, freedom and private property
Van Dun anticipates this objection: "[T]he requirement of reasonableness applies across-the-board to every human endeavor. It applies to action no less than speech. Human action always rests upon and involves judgment ... " ... Thus everyone, by virtue of his or her reason, is entitled to "dialogical rights," that is, the right be left free to one's peaceful pursuits. "There is, then," Van Dun writes, "a glaring inconsistency in the views of those who defend 'free speech' and 'the free market of ideas' but attack freedom of action and the free market in goods and services."
The Post Office as a Violation of Constitutional Rights, by Wendy McElroy, The Freeman, May 2001
Prompted by the announcement of the U.S. Postal Service eBillPay service (now discontinued), surveys the history of mail service vis-à-vis civil rights, from colonial days to the present
In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that the Cunningham Amendment [which restricted the circulation of communist literature that originated in a foreign country] was unconstitutional because it limited the First Amendment rights of the addressees. Over and over again, the goals of the USPS have come into conflict with the First Amendment that assures freedom of the press and speech. Civil libertarians demand to know whether freedom of speech extends to privately written words in letters as well as to public written words in newspapers. And if not, why not?
Privatize the Airwaves!, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Apr 2004
Comments on various incidents of FCC attempts to enforce "broadcast decency standards" and questions the rationale for nationalized airwaves
[Conservatives] who egg the FCC on ... argue that no violations of free speech are involved. All that has happened, says columnist Cal Thomas and his allies, is that private companies have either fired someone or refused to carry a program, and that's their right. What these commentators shamelessly overlook is that the private companies acted only after being fined or threatened with fines. That hardly constitutes uncoerced private activity. True, under ordinary circumstances, the right of free speech does not mean someone else must provide you a forum. But these are not ordinary circumstances.
Protecting Opinions That We Loathe, by Joan Kennedy Taylor, First Amendment Cyber-Tribune, Jan 1997
Argues against the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act (which was overturned in 2002 by the Supreme Court for being too broad)
... the new so-called Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) goes far beyond society's interest in punishing real abuse against real children and sets a dangerous precedent — it creates what can only be described as a 'thought crime.' ... This is the argument that has been used throughout our history to ban expressive material — that it may be used to incite wrongful actions. A dangerous argument, because, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, 'Every idea is an incitement.' If it were proper to ban speech and images because of what they might incite, political speech would be among the very first casualties.
Related Topic: Children
Rock and Roll Entrepreneur: Frank Zappa's true legacy., by Nick Gillespie, Reason, Apr 2005
Discusses Zappa's life, based on Barry Miles' book Zappa (2004) and comparing Zappa to Herman Melville in their attitude towards their audiences
Zappa ... was influential and visible ... as an advocate for free expression. In the mid-'80s, he delivered memorable congressional testimony attacking record labeling schemes proposed by the Parents Music Resource Center, the group founded by Tipper Gore and others interested in policing offensive lyrics in pop music ... Free expression remained the one unambiguous issue in Zappa's life. In 1965, while running a failing recording studio in Cucamonga, California, Zappa agreed to produce a pornographic audio tape for an undercover cop. At the trial, the tape's stagey antics reduced the judge to laughter ...
Related Topic: Entrepreneurship
The Roots of Individualist Feminism in 19th-Century America, by Wendy McElroy
Introduction to Freedom, Feminism, and the State, a collection of 22 essays edited by McElroy
Against this backdrop, Harman began his "free word" policy (1886) by which he refused to edit correspondence submitted to Lucifer that contained explicit language. Although Harman was somewhat puritanical, he maintained, "Words are not deeds, and it is not the province of civil law to take preventative measures against remote or possible consequences of words, no matter how violent or incendiary." Harman looked forward to a generation which would not be overwhelmed by the word "penis" in print. He pursued an open policy of providing discussion and information concerning birth control.
Sophie Scholl: A Life of Courage, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, May 2007
Review of the 2005 German film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Die letzten Tage), also contrasting this film with typical Hollywood depictions of Nazis
Sophie is seated on one side of Mohr's desk across from him ...
Mohr: Because it is the law. Without the law there is no order.
Sophie: The law you are referring to protected free speech before the Nazis came to power in 1933. Someone who speaks freely now is imprisoned or put to death. Is that order?
... [The movie] creates fresh perspective on freedoms we take for granted, such as the ability to speak without being killed for doing so. It reminds us to jealously protect that freedom ... especially in times of war when speaking truth to power can easily and officially become "aiding the enemy" and treason.
The Spirit of Humility [PDF], by Stanley Kober, Cato Journal, 1997
Discusses the recognition of the limits on human knowledge, which the author claims leads to the title spirit as evidenced in "the American experiment" and its possible lessons for European unification
This principle was also identified by Thomas Masaryk as an indispensable characteristic of civil society. "Freedom of opinion is a form of political freedom, and a condition of it," he wrote. "Criticism is at once a postulate and a method of democratic policy just as it is a postulate and method of science and of the scientific spirit." And such criticism must lead to change in public opinion and public policy. "Life is change, constant change, constant growth," Masaryk celebrated. "An active people will make living organizations, new and ever new in the State and in society".
Swift Boat Censorship, by Anthony Gregory, 8 Sep 2004
Examines the Bush-Kerry controversy over Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads and Bush's advocacy of campaign finance reform to censor political ads
Of course, the attempts by liberals and conservatives to limit the impact of Fahrenheit 9/11 and the Swift Boat ads are not censorship. True censorship involves force, specifically government force, used to prohibit people from speaking, writing, or publishing, under penalties of law. When people boycott or pressure companies to refrain from publishing or broadcasting, by threatening to withhold patronage or to complain loudly in public, such pressure, even though directed to lessen the impact of another's message, is certainly not censorship — in fact, it is itself an exercise of free speech.
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Politics
The Top 25 Liberty Songs, by Bill Winter, Libertarian Party News, Aug 2001
List of 25 "Liberty's Best Songs" chosen from over 200 suggestions, each with a short summary and highlighted lyrics, and a supplementary list of 25 runners-up
Ice-T has a history of getting into trouble with the censors ... So ... he's something of a First Amendment fanatic, which he makes clear in "Freedom of Speech," his raw free speech manifesto. Let's allow Ice-T to speak ... : "Freedom of Speech, let 'em take it from me / Next they'll take it from you, then what you gonna do?/ Let 'em censor books, let 'em censor art / PMRC, this is where the witch hunt starts ... If you don't like what I'm sayin'? Fine / But don't close it, always keep an open mind / We only got one right left in the world today / Let me have it or throw the Constitution away."
What's Become of Americans?, by Paul Craig Roberts, 22 Mar 2006
Ponders the lack of reaction by Americans to events related to the Iraq War and the Bush administration, such as the missing WMDs, Abu Ghraib, mass surveillance, "free speech" zones, the death toll and the Haditha massacre
Alan Shore told us so on ABC's Boston Legal on March 14: '... There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people even seem to notice. ... The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest. Stop for a second and try to fathom that. At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you're wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed. ...'
When the Left and Right Came Together To Applaud Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, by David T. Beito,, 23 Sep 2023
Contrasts the current American political conditions with those of 1939 when the title movie was made and received wide praise
[Senator] Minton, a down-the-line administration loyalist, was angering conservatives because of ... his proposed bill to criminalize any newspaper article "known to be false." Meanwhile, [Mayor] Hague, a key pro-FDR operative ..., was suppressing leftist demonstrators and union organizers ... The combined impact of the seemingly unrelated Minton/Hague episodes prompted the formation of a left-right coalition for free speech. Most notably, socialist Norman Thomas and Republicans Alfred Landon and Herbert Hoover jointly condemned FDR's culpability as an ally of both Minton and Hague.
Yahoo! We Have Free Speech, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 1 Mar 2001
Discusses a French court's order to Yahoo to stop selling Nazi memorabilia and contrasts attitudes regarding freedom of speech, recalling the story of "The White Rose" resistance group in 1940s Nazi Germany
The true test of a free society is not whether people are free to publish respected, popular, and approved materials. The true test of freedom is whether people are free to publish vile, despicable, and contemptible items ... Consider the story of "The White Rose," a series of essays [that] severely denounced Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime ... Hans and Sophie [Scholl] were ... put on trial ... Sophie shocked everyone in the courtroom when she said to the judge, "Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare to express themselves as we did."
Related Topics: France, Germany, United States


Wartime Attacks on Civil Liberties, by George Leef, Freedom Daily, Dec 2005
Review of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (2004) by University of Chicago Law School professor Geoffrey R. Stone
Stone begins with a discussion of the importance of freedom of speech. The First Amendment says that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. It is a blanket prohibition against efforts by the federal government to stifle free expression, a prohibition that the Supreme Court has extended to all units of government through the Fourteenth Amendment ... [T]he First Amendment protects citizens (or should do so, at least) against the regrettable tendency of public officials to control information and discourse so as to preserve their authority.


South Park Libertarians, by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Nick Gillespie, Jesse Walker, Reason, Dec 2006
Transcript of conversation with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, at Reason's August 2006 conference, in Amsterdam, on the future of free expression and free markets in Europe; includes lengthy introduction
[Nick Gillespie:] In the United States, we've seen continuing and ramped-up attempts to extend government regulation of speech to cable and satellite TV and radio ... In the wake of the violent reaction to the Muhammad cartoons ..., you wrote a story in which the Prophet appeared on the cartoon series Family Guy ...
Trey Parker: ... We actually did an episode five years ago with Muhammad in it ...
Matt Stone: ... [T]he whole week ... there was a teaser, "Will television executives take a stand for free speech? Or will Comedy Central puss out?" That whole week we were trying to get Comedy Central to show Muhammad. And they pussed out.
Stand-Up Guy, by Drew Carey, Nick Gillespie, Steven Kurtz, Reason, Nov 1997
Interview topics range from Hollywood reactions to Carey's humor, his attitude toward government, the ABC network censor, Las Vegas, drug legalization and more
Reason: You devote a chapter of your book to ABC's own network censor, filled with examples ... The focus on particular words is both pathetic and hilarious: In one case, he asked you to change dwarf to little person; in another, he asked you to substitute hooker or prostitute for whore; in a third, he passed on butt wipe but OK'd butt weasel.
Carey: People who have read the book have said that's their favorite chapter. You just don't normally get that sort of inside look at the process.
Reason: Do you ever catch the censor cursing?
Carey: Yes, yes: "What the fuck's going on? You can't say that!"
Wendy McElroy on Sex, Rape and Libertarian Feminism, by Wendy McElroy, Anthony Wile, 11 Mar 2012
Topics discussed include McElroy's early life, two of her notable books, individualist anarchism, voluntarism, conspiracy theories, religions, banks and money, feminism, capitalism, Austrian economics, Julian Assange and the future
Wendy McElroy: XXX[: A Woman's Right to Pornography] was the first ... in which a feminist went to the women actively involved in the porn industry to find out whether the accusations of exploitation, coercion and poor treatment were true ... You ask when I became "pro-pornography." ... I am pro-pornography politically because I have never viewed the presentation of sexual material, even in graphic form, to be anything other than an expression of free speech. I concentrated on the free speech and free choice that is pornography largely because it was under such concerted political attack.

Cartoons and Comic Strips

Facebook banned my posts ..., by Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine, 18 Mar 2021
Good morning out there in radio land!, by Jeff Danziger, 15 Mar 2004
I heard Howard Stern once ..., by Joel Pett, 18 Mar 2004
I'm All For Free Speech, by Ann Telnaes, 17 Apr 2007
We is free speech absoflutists, by Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine, 5 Feb 2023


Speaking Freely: The Public Interest in Unfettered Speech
    by Doug Bandow, John Corry, Ed Crane (introduction), 1995
Partial contents: TV Violence: Tempting Target for Reformers - Decency Regulation: The State as Censor - Who Will Mind the Children? - Commercial Speech: Defending the Language of Capitalism - The Fairness Doctrine


Freedom of Speech, by Ice-T
Rap song, ironically and literally, with "explicit lyrics" [NSFWOS]
The Constitution says we all got a right to speak
Say what we want Tip, your argument is weak
Censor records, TV, school books too
And who decides what's right to hear? You?
Yo, you gotta be high to believe that
You're gonna change the world by a sticker on a record sleeve


The Fight for Free Speech in the Courts, by Trevor Burrus, Aaron Ross Powell, Paul Sherman, Free Thoughts, 18 Mar 2016
Burrus and Powell discuss with Paul Sherman, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, about freedom of speech issues, particularly political speech, and occupational licensing
Well, the situation in Parker North, Colorado was a great example of how these laws which are ostensibly designed to deal with big money in politics often have their largest negative impact on people who are engaged in relatively modest grassroots efforts. ... There were people who lived in Parker North ... who were opposed to the annexation and they did exactly what you would expect Americans to do. They spoke out. They walked around their neighborhood. They distributed postcards. ... For doing this, they found themselves sued by the principal proponent of the annexation ...

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Freedom of speech" as of 20 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.