Opinion: Americans Must Fight for Free Speech

Many of us are lucky enough to have grown up in a time where the value of free speech has historically often been hated by those in power. Throughout time, authorities — religious and state alike — have handled those in dissent through banishment and ostracization. At other times, it has been torture, arrest, burning at the stake, beheading, crucifixion, or drinking hemlock.

Free speech will always be opposed by conformity forces and the will of those in authority because humans are naturally censors. 

It is only too tempting and easy to punish speech we dislike and disagree with and to silence those who hold views contrary to ours.

That is freedom of speech and is so crucial. 

We must fight to defend all Americans’ free speech rights regardless of the content of their speech or their identity. If it is protected — it must be supported.

We must also tirelessly fight against any restrictions on academic freedom and free expression and speech on college and university campuses that rely only on double standards for their mere existence. 

Political litmus tests on college campuses and California schools that use DEI regulations as political litmus tests should be halted. 

Defending free speech has become more challenging as campuses develop new justifications for curtailing speech. For instance, regulating “hate speech” is often sold as an effort to prevent harassment and protect minority groups. However, these regulations do not defend minority groups or prevent harassment.

There are many examples showing how harassment charges are used regularly to censor all kinds of speech — from punishing a Long Island University student group critical of trans issues to investigating pro-choice students at American University.

A defense of all speech — even speech found to be disgusting or despicable — is the line we need to hold to prevent this abuse of authority.

Our goal must be to build a movement of defenders of free speech within three years.

Campuses are crowded with a cancel climate culture, chilled speech, and an abdication of the most critical principles that are the foundation of American society. This holds proper even off campus. Without free speech, America as we know it will cease to exist.

We cannot reap the benefits of the First Amendment in a cultural climate where citizens can legally speak freely. However, only some of them do. As Judge Learned Hand said in 1944, “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.”

The U.S. thrives on norms that value dissent, curiosity, thought experimentation, and talking over differences. The soul of our nation lies in the instinct to respond to speech we do not favor with more speech instead of cancelation or censorship.

Those norms remain in peril. 

We are building a movement to protect the radially American idea. Challenges ahead of us continue to multiply, so we must act.

The American vision is nothing less than that of an America where people believe overwhelmingly in the right of others to freely express views different from their own and demand their institutions, society, and laws embody this belief. 

If we don’t support the values of open inquiry, academic freedom, free expression, and diversity in a nonpartisan and moral way, as we can muster, no law will save them. 

Freedom of speech makes free people. Free people must defend free speech. We must all answer the call.