Voices for Reason - Updates on Defending Free Speech | The Ayn Rand Institute

Updates on Defending Free Speech

I’m happy to report that a few more people have reviewed or mentioned favorably my recently published book, Defending Free Speech.

  • Jim Brown wrote a terrific review of the book for The Objective Standard. “Once upon a time,” Jim notes, “Americans could count on intellectuals, journalists, and politicians to stand up for free speech.” No longer. “It’s high time to renew and reinvigorate the argument in favor of unconditional free speech. Defending Free Speech takes an important step in that direction.” It won’t surprise you that I agree with Jim on this, but he makes a number of very good observations about the state of free speech today and the importance of defending it, so be sure to read the whole thing.
  • Walter Olson of the Cato Institute mentioned it in his recent Free Speech Roundup. Walter points to the “Timeline of Terrorist Attacks on Free Speech” as one of the book’s features. I must say, I think this is a particularly valuable part of the book. That’s probably not surprising, but even I didn’t expect that section to have the force it does when we decided to include it. The number of attacks on speakers by Islamists in recent decades is eye-opening. It’s especially disconcerting when you recognize that the attacks have increased in recent years, that our political leaders have done nothing in response, and that both they and intellectuals regularly appease the attackers and blame the victims. Of course, as we say in the book, that’s the reason the attacks continue.
  • In her article “Why business should care about free speech,” Jaana Woiceshyn discusses Defending Free Speech and makes a point worth emphasizing: Free speech is particularly important to businesses, and not only those, such as publishers, for whom speech is part of their business, or those, such as ExxonMobil, whom government is trying to silence. Free speech is essential to every business. As Jaana points out, to succeed in business requires active-minded individuals who pay attention to the real world and think. Wishing is not a path to success in business (or anything else). To succeed, a business must be ruthlessly rational. To do that, as Jaana notes, businesses, like everyone else, must be free—free to think and act on their own judgment, free to make the constant decisions they face, free to assess market conditions, free to deal with some people and not others, free to speak to customers, suppliers, employees, and stockholders, free to advertise and communicate with the public in general, and free to take stances on laws and policies that affect them. One might put the point this way: the more intellectually demanding your profession, the more important active thinking and learning is to your success, the more you will need free speech. As we say repeatedly in the book, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of action are all connected. Or, as Ayn Rand put it in her essay “For the New Intellectual,” “a free mind and a free market are corollaries.”

You can read more about Defending Free Speech and some of our other work on the topic here. And if you missed Daniel Pryor’s review on the Students for Liberty blog, be sure to check it out.

Finally, if you have read the book and agree that defending free speech is as important as we say, please help us get the word out. Lend your copy to a friend (or just buy a few extra copies; at less than $6 they’re a steal). Above all, write a review on Amazon. That’s an important, and often overlooked, way to get the word out.

And if you like our work, consider making a donation. Western civilization doesn’t defend itself (and doing so isn’t cheap).