A Campaign for Free Expression

The Center for Inquiry has launched a “Campaign for Free Expression” to defend the right to free speech. This brief video showcases the problem:

No person should face social or legal punishment simply for speaking about his or her beliefs in public. And no topic should be off limits — especially religion, which has such an enormous impact on the lives of billions. Part of the freedom of expression is the freedom to inquire — to ask questions and seek answers beyond what is dictated by a religious text or cultural dogma. This freedom is at the core of CFI’s mission. How can we truly have freedom and equality if certain groups of people aren’t allowed to exercise the same rights as their fellow citizens? And how can we as a civilization grow, learn, and prosper if we allow for the suppression — often violent — of minority viewpoints?

So what can you do to help? CFI suggests writing to foreign leaders, the U.S. Government, UN officials, raising awareness about cases like Alexander Aan, and sending messages of support to the subjects of those cases.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Double Standard

    So it is only alright to have freedom of speech provided it is not on your comments section of this blog, or if it is on a macro “feel good” level? Once again Hemant. Hypocrite is YOU.

    And I see the Chicago suburbs are getting braced for a teacher strike. Does this include you?

  • CanadianNihilist

     Are you drunk?
    It’s perfectly ok to be drunk, assuming your of legal age, and if you feel like posting while under the influence that’s your choice.
    But just so you know for future reference, it makes you look like an idiot.

  • jxhx

     I strongly support this principle. But as free speech defenders we must defend all speech. This concerns me, because some proposed ‘anti bullying’ legislation here in the US and elsewher actually WOULD provide for ” social or legal punishment simply for speaking about his or her beliefs in public”, including legals sanctions, being kicked out of school, forced to undergo ‘retraining’ etc.

    I don’t say this to defend homophobes or other bigots, but censorship laws are a sword with no handle, they will cut us as well. I guarantee that many of these laws if implemented WILL be used against those who criticize religion.

    Free speech must be defended for it’s own sake.

  • John

     Having stupid comments deleted is not “social or legal punishment.”  I don’t see how that is at all the same situation.  If Hemant, say, posted your contact information and directed his readers to harass you, then maybe you’d have a point.

    And you probably didn’t notice because your head is stuck so far up your ass, but a lot of disagreeing/controversial views in the comments DON’T get moderated.  But they tend to be actually somewhat well-written and contain more than just a string of logical fallacies.

  • John

    With bullying speech, you are directly targeting someone with the sole intention of hurting that individual.  Like shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, free speech should be limited when the potential for real harm exists, because your rights end where another person’s right begins.

    Before anyone brings up “blasphemy” causing religious hurt feelings and offense, I’d like to point out that that isn’t harm in any meaningful sense, especially when the speech is attacking a group rather than an individual.  On the other hand, if someone is being bullied because of their beliefs, then that would be a different case.

  • Ned Ludd

     Nothing like old out of context clichés to make a non-argument.  Christopher Hitchens dealt with this better than anyone.  Look up Hitches -free speech on YT.  He says it better than I could.

  • Deven Kale

     No he’s not drunk, he’s a bully. He’s already been banned once, but he came back under a different name.

  • Deven Kale

    Grizzz, you weren’t banned because you were exercising your freedom of speech. You were banned because you were being abusive towards people, and seemed to be targeting one person in particular. That person called for you to be banned and it was seconded by myself and someone else. Hemant had almost nothing to do with it.

    Stop playing the victim and grow up.

  • jxhx

     Directly targeting someone is indeed harassment. However, some of the legislation targets general statements, NOT specific to an individual.

  • jxhx
  • jxhx

     And in general it’s the ‘victim’ that gets to decide what’s offensive or intimidating to him. It does not have to be a direct attack, it does not have to mention the victim, it can simply by criticism or expression of dislike for the victim’s class.  And you can be damned sure that Muslims and Christian fundies particularly will easily be offended, hurt and threatened.