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.

Home | Archives | Discussions
Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg’s speech: a political statement about the future of Facebook?

Evelyn Walls explores how Facebook may navigate Chinese free speech restrictions as it seeks to enter the market.

Published on: September 15, 2015 | Principle 1 | Comments: 0


Non-governmental organisations v Government of India: dissent and development in tension

Mujahid Mohammad discusses how India’s government has prioritised economic development over free speech.

Published on: September 14, 2015 | Principle 10 | Comments: 0

Gaza 1

Self-censorship in Israeli society, or: what can and cannot be said about Gaza

Maja Sojref examines the subordination of free speech to politics and security in Israeli society.

Published on: September 5, 2015 | Principle 5 | Comments: 0

India Film

In India, the censor’s razor is here to stay

Udit Bhatia explores the changing nature of state censorship of film in India and prospects for the future.

Published on: August 29, 2015 | Principle 10 | Comments: 0


“Innocence of Muslims” and the manufacture of outrage

Danyal Kazim explores the violent reaction to the YouTube video in Pakistan – starting with trying to access it from there.

Published on: August 6, 2015 | Principle 7 | Comments: 0

A protester marches through the streets as he demonstrates against what they say is police brutality after the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer, in St. Louis, Missouri

The strange success of RT on YouTube

Monica Richter and Free Speech Debate colleagues examine RT's coverage of the US protests in Ferguson and Baltimore – in four languages.

Published on: July 29, 2015 | Principle 3 | Comments: 1

Exeter College

Why ‘no-platforming’ those who peddle hate speech does not pose a free speech issue

Purushottam Vikas engages with criticisms directed at a controversial petition regarding an Oxford India Society speaking event.

Published on: July 21, 2015 | Principle 1 | Comments: 0

Cochabamba street art: gagged and blindfolded

The rise of the left and the fall of free speech in Latin America

Maryhen Jiménez Morales explores how leftist political leaders in Latin America have limited free speech in their countries through populist discourse and political propaganda.

Published on: July 18, 2015 | Principle 1 | Comments: 2


From taboo to tort – free speech and the Israeli “boycott law”

Maja Sojref examines how a law on the prevention of harm to the State of Israel exposes the tension between freedom of expression and national security.

Published on: July 10, 2015 | Principle 10 | Comments: 0

net neutrality_image

US landmark ruling on net neutrality

Dana Polatin-Reuben examines the fiercely contested 2015 FCC rules and their free speech implications.

Published on: June 24, 2015 | Principle 2 | Comments: 0

Same-sex marriage supporter Panti Bliss reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin

The battle for balance on Ireland’s airwaves

Declan Johnston explores whether regulatory requirements for Ireland's broadcasters worked well in its referendum on same-sex marriage.

Published on: May 28, 2015 | Principle 3 | Comments: 1


Whose finger should be on the trigger?

Sarah Glatte explores the controversy over trigger warnings and asks whether they help or hinder free speech.

Published on: May 25, 2015 | Principle 1 | Comments: 0

depression 2

The cultural harm of rape pornography

Erika Rackley and Clare McGlynn consider the evidence for this ‘cultural harm’ and argue that education is the best way to counter it.

Published on: May 22, 2015 | Principle 5 | Comments: 0

Photo: Alessandro Fusella Albane

Charlie Hebdo cartoons: to republish or not to republish?

Sarah Glatte explores the question which divided the world’s media.

Published on: May 19, 2015 | Principle 7 | Comments: 3

French military parade in Oran, Algeria, 1956. (Picture by Vasse Nicolas Antoine, under Creative Commons license)

Has France been hypocritical about free speech?

In the shadow of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, Arthur Asseraf examines the history of French colonial double standards in Algeria

Published on: May 14, 2015 | Principle 1 | Comments: 1


Can a book be too dangerous for the public?

Sebastian Huempfer examines the tortured controversy around republication of a copyright-free Mein Kampf in Germany.

Published on: May 1, 2015 | Principle 5 | Comments: 2


What do artists say about freedom of expression in the arts?

Tore Slaatta investigates Norwegian artists' views on their freedom of expression in contemporary society.

Published on: April 7, 2015 | Principle 5 | Comments: 0


Should ‘revenge porn’ be illegal?

Max Harris explains how Britain legislated against it and compares this with the position in other common law countries

Published on: April 3, 2015 | Principle 8 | Comments: 0

India Protests 2012

Silencing India’s daughters

Vanya Bhargav explains the battle behind the Indian government's ban on a BBC documentary about a notorious gang rape.

Published on: March 23, 2015 | Principle 10 | Comments: 1


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.

Published on: March 11, 2015 | Principle 3 | Comments: 1


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.

Published on: February 16, 2015 | Principle 7 | Comments: 4

Buddha worship

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.

Published on: February 10, 2015 | Principle 4 | Comments: 0

Man addressing crowd at Speakers' Corner, London

Living in outrageous times

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

Published on: December 18, 2014 | Principle 1 | Comments: 4

Weibo blocking

How a Weibo post gets censored

Jason Q Ng traces the path of a censored Weibo post and tracks keywords that trigger automatic review.

Published on: December 5, 2014 | Principle 2 | Comments: 0

hand on mouse

Free to fantasise? Pornography and its harms.

Jo Fidgen asks what the hard evidence is for negative effects of pornography on sexual behaviour.

Published on: December 1, 2014 | Principle 10 | Comments: 2


How the British press distorted reporting of… the British press

Martin Moore, of the Media Standards Trust, summarises an analysis of British press coverage of proposed new press regulation.

Published on: November 3, 2014 | Principle 1 | Comments: 0


Google grapples with the ‘right to be forgotten’

Katie Engelhart attends the public hearing of Google’s Advisory Council, set up in response to a European Court of Justice judgement.

Published on: October 29, 2014 | Principle 1 | Comments: 1

internet access

How can you tell what’s banned on the Internet?

Joss Wright describes the technical and ethical challenges in investigating online censorship.

Published on: October 21, 2014 | Principle 10 | Comments: 2

Gaza reporting

Clueless in Gaza: Western media and the Arab-Israeli conflict

John Lloyd explores the history and weakness of Western media coverage, and suggests one way it could be improved.

Published on: October 10, 2014 | Principle 1 | Comments: 3


A new initiative to defend free speech in India

Hartosh Bal explains the role of the new Freedom Trust in the context of India’s media environment, and how they hope to defend freedom of expression.

Published on: October 2, 2014 | Principle 10 | Comments: 0


National Security: Sample our intellectual buffet. Or make your own meal.

Timothy Garton Ash introduces a sample tour of the content on our site.

Published on: August 31, 2014 | Principle 10 | Comments: 0

FSD religion

Religion: Sample our intellectual buffet. Or make your own meal.

Timothy Garton Ash introduces a sample tour of the content on our site.

Published on: August 31, 2014 | Principle 7 | Comments: 0

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.