This year, Learn Liberty has discussed numerous ways that free speech is under attack and numerous reasons why it should be defended. The ways free speech is under attack are too many to count. They include “microaggressions” and “safe spaces” on college campuses as well as more explicit laws proposed by some activist groups. But the reasons why free speech should be defended remain the same against any attack. Below we list the top five reasons to defend free speech:
1. Free speech helps minorities
Free speech allows for minority viewpoints to be heard and minority causes to be advanced. Gay and civil rights, for instance, were once minority views that have gained prominence because of free speech. In the video below, Ari Cohn from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education explains in more detail how free speech helps minorities.
2. Free speech allows for dissent
Free speech allows for dissent of prevailing opinion. Similar to how free speech helps minorities, it also helps minority opinions and dissenting views become mainstream.
3. Free speech allows for a robust defense of what’s right
Free speech allows the airing of offensive opinions that can then be openly refuted. Denunciations of the opinions held by groups like the Westboro Baptist Church and the KKK would likely not be as thorough without free speech. In the video below, Chapman University Professor Tom w. Bell explains why offensive speech is good for society.
4. Free speech helps us refine our views
Beyond creating the environment for a more robust defense of principles, free speech also allows people to refine their views on specific subject matter. What’s particularly problematic is that free speech is being threatened most on college campuses, an environment where people traditionally refine their opinions. In the video below, Towson University Professor Howard Baetjer challenges university students to voice their most controversial opinion.
5. Controlling free speech empowers bullies
Controlling speech empowers government officials to decide what speech is acceptable and what is not. This grows the size of government and reduces liberty. In the video below, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Donald Downs highlights the problems with allowing some bureaucrats to determine what speech is allowed.
Though the calendar is changing, the importance of defending free speech against attacks will remain as important as ever.