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.


We neither make threats of violence nor accept violent intimidation.

Timothy Garton Ash
A personal introduction

The power of speech defines us as human beings. Language enables us to negotiate our differences in ways not available to most animals. Yet throughout history this power been used to animate us to kill other members of our own species. (more...)

Do you agree with this principle? Yes No


More discussions

Case studies

  • FSD CS Twitter

    14 year-old’s Twitter prank leads to arrest in the Netherlands

    A prank by a 14 year-old Dutch girl on Twitter prompted both her arrest – and broader questions about free speech, as Max Harris discusses.

    June 25, 2014 | Comments: 2
  • KKK_night_rally_in_Chicago_c1920_cph.3b12355

    The ‘Brandenburg test’ for incitement to violence

    In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court made history by ruling that, to merit conviction, the violence advocated must be intended, likely and imminent. By Jeff Howard.

    April 29, 2013 | Comments: 0
  • Julius Malema Appears In Court For Hate Speech

    Shoot the Boer: hate music?

    In 2011, a South African court banned the anti-apartheid song "Shoot the Boer" after ruling it hate speech, writes Nimi Hoffmann.

    July 26, 2012 | Comments: 1
  • Video game

    RapeLay: a virtual rape game

    A Japanese video game that involved raping women was banned three years after its creation following an international outcry by women's groups, writes Judith Bruhn.

    April 11, 2012 | Comments: 17
  • BFI Chairman Greg Dyke Hosts Gala Dinner: 54th BFI London Film Festival

    The Jaipur Literature Festival

    Author Salman Rushdie cancelled his appearance at the Jaipur Literature Festival after being informed that "paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld" were out to kill him, writes Manav Bhushan

    March 13, 2012 | Comments: 1
  • 109706978

    Death of a journalist in Pakistan

    Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad was found dead after publishing an article on the links between al-Qaida and Pakistan's military, writes Ayyaz Mallick.

    February 22, 2012 | Comments: 0

More case studies

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.