Toleration & Free Speech
OverviewFreedom of speech and expression are essential for individual flourishing and a truly free society. They allow us to explore, learn, and innovate in ways that challenge both ourselves and the status quo. Free speech and academic freedom are at the core of a thriving marketplace of ideas and are essential to lasting freedom from oppression.
The Charles Koch Institute works on these areas of toleration and free speech:
- Freedom of the Press: A free press is a vital institution in a healthy democracy. It allows for the flow of valuable information about government, business, religion, culture, and so many other areas of life, both momentous and trivial. It also provides a forum for the political and social debate required for accountability in democratic life and a robust civil society. The First Amendment correctly captures this importance when it states that government “shall make no law” abridging this important freedom.
- Free Speech and Open Inquiry on Campus: Universities play a valuable role in the development and transmission of knowledge. The ability to achieve both of these goals is reliant on a robust discovery experience. Students—the individuals who will one day shape our society and world—need the space to think broadly and critically while realizing the benefits of free speech to a healthy society. Academics—those who strive to discover truth—should be free to pursue scientific inquiry as they see fit.
- Arts and Anti-Censorship: The arts play a critical role in a free society. Literature, music, and visual and performance art historically have served to pose provocative questions and provide social commentary that reaches broad swathes of the public. This country’s opposition to state-sponsored censorship is a strength that should be actively preserved.
- Marketplace of Ideas in the 21st Century: Today, old issues related to free speech and expression arise in new contexts. Technological improvements, for example, have created new forums for speech. However, they have also led to calls for this speech to be filtered or even restricted. Government surveillance and data collection have imperiled our privacy and threaten to chill speech. Maintaining a marketplace of ideas requires that we defend free speech in the face of these new challenges.
- Watch this video from the Newseum on New York Times v. Sullivan, a landmark case for press freedom
- See how rising tides of censorship and violence are threatening free speech abroad in an article by The Economist
- Read about how safe spaces and speech codes restrict expression on campus in a Newsweek cover story
- Learn how universities may be harming students by shielding them from ideas that may be upsetting in “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff
From the Blog
By Editorial Team | January 19, 2017
Interface and user experience designers could have a hand in promoting free speech and civil discourse through online platforms like Medium. As online platforms create more opportunities for people to engage in debate and discourse, there’s a large role for interface and user experience (UX) designers to help showcase thoughtful content and spur civil interactions. […]Read More
By Editorial Team | November 22, 2016
Technological advancements and cultural diffusion through cuisine have made it easier for more people to celebrate Thanksgiving in their own style. Thanksgiving may not have the carols and gifts of Christmas, but what it lacks in festivities it makes up for with food. And though today’s Thanksgiving bears little resemblance to the first harvest celebration […]Read More
By Editorial Team | November 11, 2016
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) was one of the leading figures of the early women’s rights movement and is best known for her efforts in writing the Declaration of Sentiments for the Seneca Falls Convention and for organizing the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Throughout her life, Cady Stanton passionately sought to elevate the […]Read More
By Michael Tolhurst | September 2, 2016
Last week, Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, landed in the national spotlight for refusing to stand during the pre-game playing of the national anthem. Talking to reporters after the game, Kaepernick explained his decision by stating that he could not take pride in a country that “oppresses black people and people […]Read More
By Editorial Team | August 29, 2016
On August 29 we celebrate the birthday of the “Father of Liberalism”, John Locke (1632-1704). Most notable for his theories of property, natural rights, and government by consent of the people, his ideas are still widely read in classrooms throughout the world. Born and raised in England, Locke studied medicine and natural philosophy at Oxford […]Read More