Tag Archives: Free Speech

CEI Podcast for June 21, 2012: Free Speech for Me, and for Thee


Have a listen here.

Labor Policy Counsel Vinnie Vernuccio explains why today’s 7-2 Supreme Court decision in the Knox v. SEIU case is an important victory for free speech. The heart of the ruling is that people should not be compelled to pay for political speech with which they disagree. Just as people may not be forcibly silenced, nor can they be forced to speak.

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CEI Podcast for January 18, 2012: Dropping the SOPA

Have a listen here.

Wikipedia, Reddit, and other popular websites all went black today to protest SOPA and PIPA, two bills currently before Congress. Critics charge that the bills could potentially shut down the Internet as we know it. Associate Director of Technology Studies Ryan Radia explains how the bills would work, and how they would indeed stifle free speech.

J.B. Bury on the Role of Church and State in History

When church and state compete against each other, the people are mostly left alone, and prosper. When they work together, well:

The conflict sketched in these pages appears as a war between light and darkness. We exclaim that altar and throne formed a sinister conspiracy against the progress of humanity.

J.B. Bury, A History of Freedom of Thought, p. 177.

How to Lose an Argument

Thomas Erskine defended Thomas Paine after authorities decided to persecute him for the radical ideas contained in his Rights of Man. Here, Erskine tells a story that explains to Paine’s prosecutors why someone who threatens force during an argument is almost surely wrong:

You must all remember, gentlemen, Lucian’s pleasant story: Jupiter and a countryman were walking together, conversing with great freedom and familiarity upon the subject of heaven and earth. The countryman listened with attention and acquiescence while Jupiter strove only to convince him; but happening to hint a doubt, Jupiter turned hastily around and threatened him with his thunder. ‘Ah, ha!’ says the countryman, ‘now, Jupiter, I know that you are wrong; you are always wrong when you appeal to your thunder.’

Quoted from J.B. Bury, A History of Freedom of Thought, pp. 130-31.

He’s right. An argument can only truly be won on the merits.The world would be a better place if more people realized that.

J.B. Bury on Freedom of Thought

A noble sentiment:

“If the history of civilization has any lesson to teach it is this: there is one supreme condition of mental and moral progress which it is completely within the power of man himself to secure, and that is perfect liberty of thought and discussion. The establishment of this liberty may be considered the most valuable achievement of modern civilization, and as a condition of social progress it should be deemed fundamental.”

-J.B. Bury, A History of Freedom of Thought, p. 182.

Regulation of the Day 181: Offensive Bumper Stickers

Tennessee State Rep. Gary Moore must be a very busy man. This year alone, he has solved the state’s budget troubles, fixed the broken education system, slashed the crime rate, and ended poverty.

Granted, I didn’t see any headlines about any of those things. No, the evidence for Rep. Moore’s achievements is much more indirect: he found the time to introduce a bill banning offensive bumper stickers. Surely he wouldn’t spend time on something like that unless he’d already solved his state’s more pressing matters?

There’s no way that fining drivers $50 if another driver takes issue with their bumper sticker would take precedence over reforming TennCare. The bumper sticker bill also covers movies being shown inside vehicles; surely Nashville’s solons wouldn’t worry about what cartoons parents are showing their kids in the back of their minivans until they found a way to raise stagnant standardized test scores.

On the other hand, maybe Tennesseans would be better off if their elected officials spent all of their time on minutiae. Whenever legislators do try to tackle the big issues of the day, wallets across the state get a lot lighter.

CEI Podcast for March 3, 2011: Citizens United, Annie Leonard, and Free Speech

Have a listen here.

Did the Citizens United decision place corporations ahead of democracy? Activist Annie Leonard thinks so. CEI’s Communications Director Lee Doren disagrees. Leonard views a strong government as an opposing force to corporate power. Doren points out in a new video that the more government does, and the more it spends, the more companies will flock to Washington to get a piece of the action. If you want to keep money out of politics, then keep politics out of our money.