Liberty to speak, write or otherwise express oneself

TV Shows

You Can't Say That!: What's Happening to Free Speech?, by John Stossel, 23 Mar 2000
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."


Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution
"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech ..."
Freedom of speech - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas. 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. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise. ..."

Web Sites

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."
First Amendment Center: Speech
"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."


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."
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"
"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, acting under Secret Service orders, supposedly established a 'free speech zone' far from the airport hangar. ... After moving twice, Bursey refused to move again and was arrested."
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Ron Paul
"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."
Related Topic: George W. Bush
Protecting Opinions That We Loathe, by Joan Kennedy Taylor, FACT - First Amendment Cyber-Tribune, Jan 1997
Argues against the 1996 CPPA (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.'"
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 Bill of Rights: Freedom of Speech, by Jacob G. 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 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."
Related Topic: Terrorism
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."
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
"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."
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: South Park, Conservatism
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, Laozi
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 E. 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 N. Rothbard, Cato Journal 2, 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."
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
"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 — considering the other appalling policies and practices the Bush administration engaged in — 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."
Related Topics: World War I, Woodrow Wilson
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."
Related Topics: Private Property, Howard Stern
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."
Related Topic: Sophie Scholl
The Ancient Roots of Chinese Liberalism: Westerners who think that authoritarian rule is China's natural state misunderstand its culture, by Liu Junning, 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, Laozi
The Death of Politics, by Karl Hess, Playboy, 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."
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."
Wartime Attacks on Civil Liberties, by George C. 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."
Related Topic: War
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."

Cartoons and Comic Strips

I'm All For Free Speech, by Ann Telnaes, 17 Apr 2007
When they shut up Howard Stern, I, of course, did nothing ..., by Tony Auth
Related Topic: Howard Stern
Good morning out there in radio land!, by Jeff Danziger, 15 Mar 2004
Related Topic: Howard Stern
I heard Howard Stern once ..., by Joel Pett, 18 Mar 2004
Related Topic: Howard Stern


Speaking Freely: The Public Interest in Unfettered Speech
    by John Corry, Doug Bandow, Edward H. Crane III (Introduction), 1995
Covers freedom of speech issues in TV violence, indecency, children's TV, commercial speech and the now superseded 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"