Whatever Happened to Press Freedom and Free Speech? Nick Gillespie at Newseum on Wed


Update: The correct time for this event is 9.15 A.M. Go here for more details.

Attention, D.C. residents! On Wednesday, I'll be part of a great program at The Newseum being put on by the great Brit site Spiked. Tickets are free and all are welcome!


Across the Western world, it is no longer just governments that see a free and rowdy press as a bad thing. So, increasingly, do many ostensibly liberal campaigners, and even many writers and journalists. There are many new threats to press freedom; not only laws, but also conformism, pressure from reformers, and a tendency to blame tabloid media in particular for every social and intellectual ill of our age. The modern, democratic West was born from the efforts of people who believed passionately in a free press—from England's Levellers to America's founding fathers to Europe's men of the Enlightenment—yet today, it is often the upper echelons of Western intellectual society who feel most uncomfortable with the ideal of a free press.

Why has press freedom fallen so far out of favour? Why are some people so riled by the existence of muck?raking, trouble-causing papers and other outlets, when that is the very business hacks have been involved in for centuries? If the modern West sprung from a renewed belief in freedom—including, crucially, press freedom—does today's discomfort with a free press tell us something about the corrosion of Western values more broadly? Can we recover the Jeffersonian view of press freedom being essential to democracy and stability?

Joining me on the panel will be Spiked's Brendan O'Neill, Al Jazeera's Ray Suarez, and the Committee to Protect Journalists' Courtney C. Radsch.


Weds 5 November

The Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington
DC 20001

RSVP here.

Here's an interview I did with Spiked about the issues we'll discuss: "The best answer to bad speech? More speech."

NEXT: In (Partial) Defense of Rock the Vote's Nonvoters

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  1. The movement against an “absolutist” view of freedom of speech has been one of the more frightening developments in recent years to me. Some of the things that have happened or that have been advocated are positively shocking. As recently as the 90s, we were moving towards more free speech, not less. In fact, there had been speculation back then that the courts were trending towards even weakening some of the limits on commercial speech.

    1. Since movement against “absolutist” views of the second, fourth, fifth, etc. amendments have been tolerated, it was really only a matter of time before the same was applied to the first amendment.

      1. I guess, but it was the one freedom that seemed to get screams when assaulted. I guess the authoritarians really mean it.

      2. Since movement against “absolutist” views of the second, fourth, fifth, etc. amendments have been tolerated, it was really only a matter of time before the same was applied to the first amendment.

        But dammit, we’re not going to give one inch of ground on the quartering of soldiers!

        1. That’s right. The last fundamental right. That and the one about petitioning the government for redress. The beauty of that right is that it identifies traitors and doesn’t actually say that the government has to redress grievances.

    2. It was inevitable. Entrenched interests will inevitably dislike freedom of speech and a “free and rowdy press”. At this point, both TEAMs are pretty entrenched (especially TEAM BLUE with controlling the presidency currently) and don’t really have any use for freedom of speech. All the sheep who follow the lead of the TEAMs will hate on freedom of speech if told to do so, and they do, with gusto.

      The more the TEAMs merge into TEAM BE RULED, the more they will dislike freedom of speech.

      1. They really should merge the parties now.

        1. It would be an interesting social experiment. Or if they transferred platforms over night. Just to see if people would even notice.

          1. Tony would go from an ardent believer in banning guns to a 2 a nut real quick.

          2. The new mascot would be the woolly mammoth.

          3. They would not notice. I think it was Jimmy Kimmel who asked Obama voters if they supported various policies that he claimed were Obama’s but were really Mitt Romney’s, and of course they all did. Funny bit, but also sad.

            1. Then they should do it. It would make it a lot easier for voters in general to reject them if they were merged together.

        2. The best part is it would have historic precedence; we could have (another) election between 4 different Democratic-Republican candidates!

    3. People would rather see the freedom of other’s restricted rather than more freedom for themselves. Stems from the childish “I’ve got mine” attitude which has pretty much been the attitude of baby boomers, so it’s not surprising their children have the same attitude. The pre-baby-boom generation is small enough now that their check/balance on such attitudes is insignificant.

  2. “Whatever Happened to Press Freedom and Free Speech?”

    Baby, I hate to break it to you… but it killed itself.

  3. Dude, so there’s like no family relationship between you and Dan Akroyd whatsoever?

    No offense, but it’s like DA and Paul Simon had the most beautiful leather-clad baby imaginable!

    1. BTW did you know your Bacon number is 2? You were in Hating Breitbart with Orson Bean who was in Forty Deuce with Kevin.

  4. Mitt Romney trying to blow it for the republicans:

    “You’re going to see a provision to secure the border, deal with those who come here illegally, and to make sure our immigration policies are more open and transparent to the many people who do want to come here illegally,” Romney promised. “That’s going to happen. You’re going to see a bill actually reach the desk of the president if we finally have someone besides Harry Reid in the Senate.”

    Talk about a group of idiots, if you think Obama is insufferable now wait till he signs an immigration bill, Obama will be known as a modern day Abe Lincoln from that point forward.

    1. Until people find out what’s in it. Any immigration bill that gets to the presidents desk and he signs will be so full of pork and cronyism that it will be unrecognizable as having anything to do with immigration at all.

      1. Like results matter. It’s all about the intentions and narratives.

        1. True, but what I am saying is that signing onto another big slop bucket of pork and cronyism is going to make Obama some big legend akin to Lincoln about as much as the ACA made him that, that is to say, not at all.

      2. It will be all that and more. It will also give millions of illegals citizenship and the right to work legally while telling Americans who are already here that they no longer have a right to work unless their government paperwork is in order.

        1. I think it’s kind of hilarious that the people who are pushing for the 15$ minimum wage are also advocating for bringing in millions of unskilled laborers. The democrats can’t even get socialism right.

          1. They are as dumb as the people on the Right who think E-Verify is a good idea. I mean the Left would never once in power use a system that says every person in America has to get verification from the government that they are citizens to punish their enemies or anything.

    2. “Talk about a group of idiots”


      The president and the dems are going to now go back into “powerless” pretend mode, and scream and rant about how the republicans ‘hate minorities and gays and women’ and just want to give handouts to Big Oil and their buddies on Wall Street.

      Energy Policy and Immigration are things they will use to make the GOP look like the party of ‘exclusion’.

      The dems will try forcing all sorts of straw-man policies for the GOP to knock down (like minimum wage) so that their opposition becomes a platform to demonize them over.

      Of course, the GOP will play right into their hands on both. Because they are fucking morons.

      They don’t have any capacity to re-direct the narrative because they don’t know how to sell REAL ‘sustainable energy policy’, or ‘immigration reform’. They dont know how to communicate on the issues to people who’ve been receiving the left-wing spin their whole lives. The Democrats would far rather be in ‘blame’ mode leading into 2016 than be the party in power and responsible for the non-stop shitshow of their policy consequences.

    3. “Talk about a group of idiots, if you think Obama is insufferable now wait till he signs an immigration bill, Obama will be known as a modern day Abe Lincoln from that point forward.”

      Obama is not going to ‘sign’ any Republican bill. He’s got a Pen. He’s going to create his own legislation via Executive Authority and dare the Republican’s to impeach him.

      And if the Republican’s even dare to talk about impeachment, most of the media will go into full overdrive in discussing how Evil and Racists the Republicans are. And how Harry Reid was instrumental in stopping their insanity. And of course, the Republican’s will only win the Senate because of Gerrymandering, Koch money and Voter suppression. /double derp

  5. The biggest threat to free speech is the Orwellian perversion of language that says “money corrupts politics”. We have allowed the fascists in this country to define spending money to support a candidate or ideas as the same thing as openly bribing that candidate. As a result, a large number of people in this country think free speech is the biggest threat to the political system.

    1. if a corproatin gives moneyt o a candidate who then doles out cronyfa vors to the corporation how is that not bribery/ cuz u say so?

      1. Because by that standard any support for a candidate is bribery. If a newspaper sends and an entire election season trying to convince its readers to vote for a particular candidate and that candidate wins and then rewards his favorite newspaper with access and favors, how is that not bribery?

        And the fact that you seem to think that the money is given by a corporation or an individual is relevant to the discussion, indicates you really don’t understand the issue.

        1. more harispliitng. does it realy make a differnce if bob mcmillions gives the moneyp ersonaly or in the name of mcmillions enterprises. the pol who gets it still knows where the moneyc ame from and where the favors go

        2. reallyu you libertarans still cling to the absurd notion that the poor have more sway than the rich the free stuff you piss and noan about are just token ocaisionally trown by the political class to keep em quite and remind them who there daddy is. thats all. one 1percenter has more sway over politcs than any given millionn welfare mommas.

          1. At least your incoherent babbling is matched by your inability to compose the English language.

            If the “99%” doesn’t want the “1%” to have “more sway over politics” then they ought to stop electing politicians who are so easily bought.

            1. And maybe learn to use capitalization.

  6. There is a giant pig trough named government. If you happen to be lucky enough to get elected to public office, then your only task is to dip your snout into the trough and suck up as much as you can. Oh, and you can invite all of your hog family and friends to slurp up there share as well.

  7. Ot: reason for optimism:

    The World Bank reported on Oct. 9 that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty had fallen to 15% in 2011 from 36% in 1990. Earlier this year, the International Labor Office reported that the number of workers in the world earning less than $1.25 a day has fallen to 375 million 2013 from 811 million in 1991.

    Poverty rate has fallen 80% since 1975.

    1. Poverty rate has fallen 80% since 1975

      Thanks to technology. If not for corrupt governments stealing from the people, I’m sure that figure would be far greater.

      1. The word “despite” really needs to be used more often.

        1. I will continue to not use it, despite your whining.

  8. I can’t say the media has given me much reason for sympathy. If I have to part with one constitutional right, I don’t think I’m gonna miss freedom of the press too much. Seeing the media run out of town on a rail would just about make my day.

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