Charlie Hebdo Massacre

VID: The Biggest Threats to Free Speech


Wednesday's attack at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a dark moment in the ever-worsening cultural climate against free inquiry.  

Reason's Matt Welch eloquently outlines the importance of Charlie and trends in the broader West to curb offensive speech here. But back in 2010, Reason TV asked some of the biggest names in politics and journalism about the greatest threats to free speech. Watch below to hear their answers.

Interviews by Michael C. Moynihan and produced by Jim Epstein. About 4 minutes. Original release date was December 16, 2010 and original writeup below. 

What's the biggest threat to free speech? asks a cavalcade of politicians, journalists, filmmakers and content creators ranging from former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-N.M.) to Fox News' Greg Gutfeld to The Atlantic's Megan McArdle to adult filmmaker John Stagliano to new media magnate Andrew Breitbart to call their shot.

Featured (in order of appearance):

Andy Levy, Fox News' Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld

Gov. Gary Johnson, Our America Initiative

Roger Stone, Political Strategist, Blogger, The StoneZone

John Stagliano, Evil Angel Productions

Cyan BanisterCEO,

Robert Corn-Revere, Davis Wright Tremaine

Kevin D. Williamson, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review

John Tierney, Science Columnist, The New York Times

Robert A. George, Editorial WriterThe New York Post

Kristin Davis, "Manhattan Madam" and NY Gubernatorial Candidate

Andrew BreitbartBig Hollywood/Big Government/Big Journalism

Tunku Varadarajan, Editor, Newsweek International & NYU Professor

Rob Kampia, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project

Scott Ross, Editor, NBC's PopcornBiz

S.E. Cupp, New York Daily News and The Daily Caller

Bob Bowdon, Director, The Cartel

Tony Ortega, Editor in Chief, The Village Voice 

Fred Smith, President, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Joe Garden, Features Editor, The Onion 

John Papola, Producer-Director, "Fear the Boom and Bust"

Megan McArdle, Business and Economics Editor, The Atlantic

Greg Gutfeld, Fox News' Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld

The interviews were conducted on December 9, 2010, at The Box, a nightclub on Manhattan's Lower East Side. They took place during a Reason event designed to celebrate our work—and those of others across the political and ideological spectrum—in defense of free expression.

Interviews conducted by Michael C. Moynihan and filmed and edited by Jim Epstein. Approximately 3.30 minutes.

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NEXT: VID: The Marshall Project's Bill Keller on Criminal Justice Reform

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  1. I would do the country a great service if in addition to pointing out threats to free speech people would go to great lengths to ensure that the term “threat” is properly defined. A threat necessarily implies violence. So anyone who is not threatening violence, either through government sponsored violence or vigilante violence of the kind we saw in Paris, against those engaging in speech they don’t like, is not a threat to free speech.

    So if you don’t want your tax dollars paying for someone’s speech, you are not a threat to free speech. If you think the content of someone’s speech is crap and are unafraid of saying so, you are not a threat. You are only a threat if you intend to use the threat of violence to shut someone up.

    A lot of people seem to forget that.

    1. I dunno. I think blacklisting people because of their speech/views is also bad.

      It’s funny, for 50+ years we were constantly told how bad the blacklisting of communists in Hollywood was (and rightfully so), yet apparently nowadays it’s okay to blacklist people for other unacceptable views.

  2. The biggest threats to free speech are the cheerleaders for whichever party is currently in power.

  3. Threats to free speech according to:

    Fox: the terrorists
    msnbc: republicans
    cnn: global warming

  4. S.E. Cupp:)

    1. She’s my favorite.

  5. The greatest threat to free speech is my own generation of pussy-assed, panzy liberal arts/poly-sci/gender studies/etc. majors that think they have a right not to be offended. (Also, see: political correctness, trigger warnings, “hate” speech, etc.

  6. The greatest threat has to be whoever can back up their censorship with guns. Chiefly the government. In addition, whenever the government doesn’t pick up their guns to defend free speech, they are complicit in the terrorism de jour.

    All of which, I think, is a rehash of what John said above.

    1. Also, nice to see the late, great Andrew Breitbart in that video.

    2. Yes. If (in this country, at least) you don’t see government as the greatest threat to free speech, you aren’t paying attention. Only college campuses come close. Complaints about mansplaining, wardrobe malfunctions, campaign donations, patriarchy, and cake baking are just bitching and moaning without the guys in guns backing it up.

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