Panel: Freedom of Speech or Tyranny of Silence? [Audio]

We at the Ayn Rand Institute regard free speech as essential to a free society; you can’t have one without the other. That’s why we have a long and proud history of taking an uncompromising and unequivocal stand for free speech. For example, in 1989, we publicly condemned the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and in 2006, we not only spoke out against the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoon debacle, but we were also among the few who published the controversial cartoons. And that’s also why, in the wake of the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, we immediately rushed to the defense of the unconditional right to freedom of speech.

These and other ominous attacks on free speech — including the most recent attempt to terrorize people into silence in Copenhagen, Denmark — will naturally give rise to many pressing questions such as: What exactly is the right to free speech? Does it include the right to offend? Is there such a thing as “hate speech” or “Islamophobia”? How should the government respond when foreign groups and regimes threaten Americans’ freedom of speech? What can you do to protect your freedom to voice your ideas?

These and other crucial questions were addressed in a panel discussion on free speech on January 22, at Rutgers University. The panelists were Flemming Rose, an editor at the Danish newspaper which published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, and the author of Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech; Onkar Ghate, senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, and Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The moderator is Gregory Salmieri, a philosophy fellow at the Anthem Foundation who teaches at Rutgers University.

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