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."
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."
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
"Likewise, when 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."
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. laissez-faire views and defended government restrictions on the grain trade. Turgot let it be published."
Related Topics: John Adams
, Free Trade
, Gold Standard
, François Quesnay
, Freedom of Religion
, Joseph Schumpeter
, Adam Smith
, Alexis de Tocqueville
, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot
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."
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.'"
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 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
"In 1640 King Charles I convened the Long Parliament, who acted to abolish the Court of Star Chamber, which had served as 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."
Constant, Benjamin (1767-1830)
, by David M. Hart, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism
, 15 Aug 2008
"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."
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 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
, Future of Freedom
, 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.'"
"Free-Speech Zone": The administration quarantines dissent
, 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."
, by John Stuart Mill
, On Liberty
"It 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, and resting in great part on the same reasons, 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."
, by John Fiske, The Presidents of the United States, 1789-1914
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."
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' ..."
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
"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."
Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution
, by Murray Rothbard
, Cato Journal
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."
Liberty in America during the Great War
, by Sheldon Richman
, 15 Aug 2014
Examines how various areas of American society were influenced by Woodrow Wilson's decision to enter the First World 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."
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."
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 war had begun, 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."
Related Topics: American War Between the States
, Ludwig von Mises
, Murray Rothbard
, Adam Smith
, Lysander Spooner
, William Graham Sumner
, Vietnam War
, World War I
, World War II
Privatize the Airwaves!
, by Sheldon Richman
, 26 Apr 2004
Cites several incidents of FCC attempts to enforce "broadcast decency standards" and questions the rationale for nationalized airwaves
"... conservatives who egg the FCC on (not all of them do) 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."
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."
Sophie Scholl: A Life of Courage
, by Wendy McElroy
, Future of Freedom
, May 2007
Review of the 2005 German film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
(Die letzten Tage
"It 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."
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
"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."
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."
The Bill of Rights: Freedom of Speech
, by Jacob Hornberger
, Future of Freedom
, 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
"The most important principle involved in free speech is this: The true test of a free society in terms of freedom of speech is not whether popular and 'responsible' speech is protected from government assault but instead whether the most vile and despicable speech receives such protection."
The Death of Politics
, by Karl Hess
, Mar 1969
Discusses libertarianism, contrasting it with both conservatism and modern liberalism, including specific policy differences
"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."
Related Topics: Cold War
, War on Drugs
, Barry Goldwater
, Ayn Rand
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
"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."
The "Good-Government" Attack on Free Speech
, by Sheldon Richman
, 1 May 2001
Discusses the freedom of speech implications of McCain-Feingold (which became the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 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."
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
, Future of Freedom
, Apr 1990
Condensed from an article in Dealing With Drugs: Consequences of Government Control
, 1987, Ronad Hamowy (editor)
"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 New Witchcraft
, by Joan Kennedy Taylor
, Free Inquiry
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."
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
"... the Comstock Act of 1873 had provided a penalty of up to ten years' imprisonment for intentionally mailing obscene material. Ominously, 'obscene' had not been defined. But Anthony Comstock, a moving force behind censorship in late nineteenth-century America, had acquired broad power to interpret the Act named for him. He defined obscenity in such a manner as to include birth-control information and discussion of sexual issues, such as whether forced sex within marriage was rape."
The Spirit of Humility
[PDF], by Stanley Kober, Cato Journal
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 Masasyk 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'."
Wartime Attacks on Civil Liberties
, by George Leef
, Future of Freedom
, Dec 2005
Review of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism
by Geoffrey R. Stone
"Many citizens and politicians are seized with the idea that any disagreement with the war policies is a threat to national survival and must be suppressed ... Opposition to or even indifference toward the war is equated with disloyalty, and the ... notion that the people have an overarching obligation of loyalty to the state rises to support the crackdown."
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, such as the missing WMDs, Abu Ghraib, mass surveillance, "free speech" zones, the death toll and the Haditha massacre
"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."
Yahoo! We Have Free Speech
, by Jacob Hornberger
, 1 Mar 2001
Discusses a French court's order to Yahoo to stop selling Nazi memorabilia and contrasts attitudes regarding freedom of speech
"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. A good example of an unfree society was Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. In Nazi Germany, the state had the power to determine which items could be published and to criminalize the publication of unacceptable materials. If a person published prohibited items, punishment was often severe."
You Can't Say That!: What's Happening to Free Speech?
, by John Stossel
, 23 Mar 2000
Stossel chat with viewers of the subject ABC News Special Report
"... Stossel points out that free speech is integral to liberty and progress in America and that the answer to hateful speech is more speech rather than restrictive laws."