New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism
Onkar Ghate, Gregory Salmieri, Flemming Rose on free speech panel in Prague AynRandCon

Panel on Free Speech: Meaning, Threats, and Controversies

“The idea of freedom of expression is maybe the most powerful idea in the history of mankind.”

So argued Flemming Rose, journalist and author, during a panel on freedom of speech at AynRandCon Europe earlier this year in Prague, Czech Republic.

Rose was one of the editors of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that in 2005 commissioned cartoons of the prophet Muhammad to gauge the climate of self-censorship in Europe on the subject of Islam. The publication of those cartoons ultimately led to a global crisis over free speech. An outspoken advocate for freedom of speech, Rose is the author of The Tyranny of Silence, an analysis of the Danish cartoon crisis.

Rose was joined on the panel by ARI intellectuals Onkar Ghate and Gregory Salmieri, and the three discussed various issues related to free speech, censorship and current controversies around social media.

Salmieri outlined three kinds of threats: laws that enforce censorship, mobs that use force to silence the opinions of others, and the pervasive misunderstanding of what freedom of speech is and isn’t.
Freedom of speech, Ghate explained, is the cornerstone of a free society: “part of what liberty means is freedom of thought and freedom of speech . . . you have to be able to think for yourself and discuss ideas with other people.” He added that the right to freedom of speech is integral to one’s ability to arrive at the truth for oneself, to think, to reason. But one has to be willing to fight for it in order to preserve it.

Freedom of speech is under attack today, and Salmieri outlined three kinds of threats: laws that enforce censorship, mobs that use force to silence the opinions of others, and the pervasive misunderstanding of what freedom of speech is and isn’t. Salmieri argued that the misunderstanding of the principle of free speech leads to all kinds of problems — including the false notion that everyone has a right to a platform to express their ideas.

Rose observed that, nowadays, many people want free speech for themselves, but not for the people they disagree with. Yet freedom of expression is a principle, and as such it must protect unpopular, offensive, even irrational ideas. As Ghate explained, “attacks on an individual right usually start with the least attractive practitioners of the right.”

After the panel, there was a lengthy Q&A period addressing a wide array of interesting questions, such as:

  • Do social media platforms violate the rights of individuals when they close an account?
  • Is it moral to limit free speech in order to defend the broader right to liberty?
  • Where should the legal line be drawn between free speech and threats and incitement to violence?
  • Who benefits from the censoring and silencing of ideas?

Watch the video below to learn the answers to these questions and more about free speech, a principle that ARI has been championing for decades.

Subscribe to New Ideal to receive the latest in-depth content from ARI.

Share this article:

Agustina Vergara Cid

Agustina Vergara Cid, LL.B. and LL.M., is a guest writer for the Ayn Rand Institute.

Updates from New Ideal

 

Ayn Rand University App

Explore unique philosophical content that challenges conventional views — in courses you can take on the go.

Available on Google Play and
the App Store.

A Must-Read from Elan Journo

What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict defies conventional views on the issue and shows what’s at stake if you value freedom and progress.

learn more