ARI’s Steve Simpson Concludes Freedom Tour

At the end of October and beginning of November, Steve Simpson, director of Legal Studies at ARI, set out on a nationwide speaking tour to defend free speech. “Free speech is increasingly under attack today,” noted Simpson. “After the election, the right is more important than ever. But if we don’t defend, we will lose it.” In eight days, Simpson participated in ten well-attended and well-received events — seven talks, two panels and one debate — addressing hundreds of people, mostly students. Several of the talks were organized by student chapters of the Federalist Society, and Simpson distributed copies of his recently released book Defending Free Speech to attendees.

At the laws schools at Arizona State University and the University of Chicago, he presented the moral argument for free speech; at Northwestern University law school he argued that the collective rights approach to the First Amendment, which prevails among many academics and judges, will destroy free speech; at Emory law school he explained that the cause of cronyism is not corrupt individuals per se, but a corrupted view of the purpose of government; and at Georgia State University Law School in Atlanta, he offered his distinct perspective on the campaign finance laws, arguing that the laws are an outright assault on our freedom of speech.

After the events, both students and faculty members expressed their appreciation for Simpson’s unique perspective. “I was delighted to see the students I addressed engaged in the topics, whether they agreed with me or not. I had a number of very good conversations with bright, motivated law students and their professors, many of whom — even the professors — are interested and intrigued by Ayn Rand’s ideas,” Simpson said.

In addition to his talks to law students, Simpson lectured to a class of law and economics students at Berry College in Georgia on why subject of economic rights are just as important — morally and constitutionally — as so-called “civil” rights such as freedom of speech..

He also spoke at AM 560 The Answer’s Freedom Summit 2016, a conference that annually attracts hundreds of conservatives, libertarians and Tea Party members in Chicago. Simpson spoke on the subject of his book, Defending Free Speech, to a room packed with hundreds of people. Like all the other events on this tour, this too was well received with attendees approaching Simpson to discuss, ask questions and show their appreciation.

Another energizing and inspirational highlight on this speaking tour was the Ayn Rand Student Conference 2016 — the largest Objectivist student conference ever — with over one hundred and forty students attending from around world. Simpson spoke on the connection between free will and free speech and joined two panels, including one with Jason Hill, professor of philosophy at DePaul University, and Nico Perrino, director of communications at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), on the status of free speech on campus.

“I’m always energized by our student conferences, and this was the best one yet. All of the students were motivated, intelligent, and very interested in Ayn Rand’s ideas,” Simpson said.

Simpson’s tour was a big win for the Institute. It furthered our outreach efforts to groups like the Federalist Society and FIRE, generated new promising relationships within academics, and reached hundreds of young and intellectually curious students — America’s future intellectuals, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, voters and leaders.