Free Speech Debate

Thirteen languages. Ten principles. One conversation.

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1We – all human beings – must be free and able to express ourselves, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers.»
2We defend the internet and all other forms of communication against illegitimate encroachments by both public and private powers.»
3We require and create open, diverse media so we can make well-informed decisions and participate fully in political life.»
4We speak openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.»
5We allow no taboos in the discussion and dissemination of knowledge.»
6We neither make threats of violence nor accept violent intimidation.»
7We respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief.»
8We are all entitled to a private life but should accept such scrutiny as is in the public interest.»
9We should be able to counter slurs on our reputations without stifling legitimate debate.»
10We must be free to challenge all limits to freedom of expression and information justified on such grounds as national security, public order, morality and the protection of intellectual property.»

What’s missing?

Is there a vital area we have not addressed? A principle 11? An illuminating case study? Read other people's suggestions and add your own here. Or start the debate in your own language.


Have your say!
Help us work on the principles below
so they work for you.
1We – all human beings – must be free and able to express ourselves, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers.»
2We defend the internet and all other forms of communication against illegitimate encroachments by both public and private powers.»
3We require and create open, diverse media so we can make well-informed decisions and participate fully in political life.»
4We speak openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.»
5We allow no taboos in the discussion and dissemination of knowledge.»
6We neither make threats of violence nor accept violent intimidation.»
7We respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief.»
8We are all entitled to a private life but should accept such scrutiny as is in the public interest.»
9We should be able to counter slurs on our reputations without stifling legitimate debate.»
10We must be free to challenge all limits to freedom of expression and information justified on such grounds as national security, public order, morality and the protection of intellectual property.»

What’s missing?

Is there a vital area we have not addressed? A principle 11? An illuminating case study? Read other people's suggestions and add your own here. Or start the debate in your own language.


Readers' comments

Free to know

Freedom of expression helps us get closer to the truth. It allows us to hear all views and arguments, and test our own against them. We would be most unwise to rely on the received wisdom of our time. History offers many examples of claims that were at first regarded as wild and eccentric but […]

2015-02-15T140315Z_726180222_GM1EB2F1ORJ01_RTRMADP_3_DENMARK-SHOOTING_0

Ian McEwan on free speech and religion

The celebrated English novelist on Islam's 'totalitarian moment' and why freedom of expression is not religion’s enemy but its protector.

2015-02-15T140315Z_726180222_GM1EB2F1ORJ01_RTRMADP_3_DENMARK-SHOOTING_0

Ian McEwan on free speech and religion

The celebrated English novelist on Islam's 'totalitarian moment' and why freedom of expression is not religion’s enemy but its protector.

Man addressing crowd at Speakers' Corner, London

Living in outrageous times

Peter Bradley argues that we should tolerate offence but be less offensive

Highlights

How and why Hong Kong’s press downplayed the ‘umbrella movement’ of 2014

Rebecca Wong describes the combined pressures of Chinese political power and the interests of media proprietors.

Roast beef with custard

We regularly highlight comments left by our users. Chris discusses the interpretation of roast beef with custard.

‘To fight through cartoons’

Malaysian cartoonist Zunar talks about what it means to be a satirical cartoonist in Malaysia.

Ian McEwan on free speech and religion

The celebrated English novelist on Islam's 'totalitarian moment' and why freedom of expression is not religion’s enemy but its protector.

No pearls of free speech in Bahrain

Katie Engelhart spoke to Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab hours before he was sentenced to six months in jail for a Tweet.

What did the Buddha mean by ‘right speech’?

Matthew Walton explores the deeper Buddhist context of right speech – and soul-searching on Buddhist internet message boards.

Fear, farce and tragedy: how Turkey reacted to the Charlie Hebdo murders

Kerem Oktem describes the narrowing room for satire and free expression in Islamist-ruled Turkey.

Right speech

Leslie Green argues that Buddhist ideas about avoiding divisive, abusive and false speech can help us live together well in free societies

Does Charlie Hebdo drift into racist caricatures?

The first edition of the magazine since the attack in which 12 people were killed featured a cartoon of Muhammad on its cover. Myriam Francois-Cerrah objects.

Charlie Hebdo is still alive – and kicking

Timothy Garton Ash on the first issue since the assassinations, and its Muhammad cartoon cover

Against the assassin’s veto

Timothy Garton Ash suggests a European media week of solidarity, including republication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Living in outrageous times

Peter Bradley argues that we should tolerate offence but be less offensive


Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk