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Explore the Free Speech Debate sample tours

Free Speech Debate national security sample tour

IDEA UK has been working with the Free Speech Debate a project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford run by Timothy Garton Ash for the last three years. Free Speech Debate is largely an online project run through freespeechdebate.com which explores the limits of freedom of speech and the threats to free speech in the internet age. IDEA UK runs a microsite freespeechdebate.idebate.org which has debatabase debates exploring these issues in depth with the cases both for and against restrictions on freedom of speech.

There are three very common justifications for restrictions on the freedom of speech; religion, privacy, and national security. Religion is perhaps the reason why people are most likely to be offended by free speech, their views are so deeply held that in some cases insults, or perceived insults, against a faith can lead to violence as seen by the reactions across the islamic world to the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed published in Denmark. In the interests of safety even many liberal states consider it best to limit freedom of speech when it concerns religion. Privacy is always a balancing act, almost everyone recognises a right to privacy but this right is in tension with freedom of speech and transparency. What about those that rely upon the media, how much privacy should they have? National Security on the other hand is not about individuals but about the state and no one would argue that the state does not need to keep some things secret. But because it secret national security often becomes a catch all to stop any free speech that may be perceived as being against the state and to clamp down on transparency.

Timothy Garton Ash has taken these three justifications for restrictions on the freedom of speech as a starting point for three sample tours of the content on Free Speech Debate. They take you through many of the most controversial cases involving freedom of speech over the last few years, and each has a place for several Debatabase debates.

You can find these tours on either the Free Speech Debate site or our own microsite:

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