Free Speech & Toleration

Free Speech & Toleration

How do we keep civil debate and the free exchange of ideas alive in a changing world?

The Challenge

Exchanging new ideas, holding our government accountable, and living together peacefully despite differing views all rest on our ability to exercise free speech in a culture of toleration. However, governments and citizens are increasingly tempted to limit debate or even curtail press freedom when they encounter ideas with which they disagree.

Our Goal

Civil debate and the free exchange of speech and ideas—on our college campuses, in the arts, and in the press—allow us to challenge both ourselves and the status quo. In order to protect good ideas and speech, we must protect all ideas and speech, so long as they do not violate the person, property, or liberty of others. The best way to counter objectionable or offensive ideas is not with censorship—which can often legitimize such ideas—but with better ideas and speech. Our society needs people who are equipped to civilly debate opposing views.

Our Focus

We work on these areas of free speech and toleration:

Freedom of the Press

A free press ensures that we have the information we need to hold our government and institutions accountable and provides a forum for new ideas to emerge.

Civil Discourse and Open Inquiry

In order to address society’s most intractable problems, colleges should provide havens for intellectual freedom, where scholars can confront, explore, and learn from their differences. Students—who will one day shape our society and world—need the space to think broadly and critically, and academics should be free to pursue scientific inquiry.

Free Expression and the Arts

The arts challenge settled ideas and engage us in deep and meaningful ways. The United States should preserve its opposition to state-sponsored censorship, allowing artists to demonstrate the importance of free expression through their unique works.

Civil Liberties in the Digital Age

Maintaining a marketplace of ideas means defending against limits on expression online as well as being vigilant about government surveillance and data collection.

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