Statement of Values
The Free Speech Union stands for freedom of speech, of conscience, and of intellectual enquiry, which we regard as the essential pillars of a free society—the foundational freedoms on which all others depend. We believe that human beings cannot flourish outside a free society, which means they cannot flourish in the absence of free speech. Free speech is how knowledge is developed and shared, as well as our views about morality, religion and politics. Robust debate—appealing to reason, evidence and our shared values—is also the best way to resolve disagreements about issues big and small without descending to violence or intimidation. And free speech is the most effective bulwark against abuses of power by politicians, with history demonstrating that its denial is both the aim of tyrants, because it stops people criticising them, and an ominous precursor to the removal of other freedoms.
We believe that free speech is currently under assault across the Anglosphere, particularly in those areas where it matters most, such as schools, universities, the arts, the entertainment industry and the media. The aim of the Free Speech Union is to restore it and protect it.
We take no position on the validity of others’ opinions, political or otherwise, whether expressed in speech, writing, performance, or in another form. However, we condemn all incitements to violence.
We expect our members not to restrict others’ freedom of speech and we hope that when engaging in discussions and disagreements they keep faith with the spirit of the Enlightenment and use reason and evidence to prosecute their case, rather than engaging in ad hominem or seeking to silence opponents through harassment or intimidation. While we discourage offensive or personal attacks, particularly if based on a person’s membership of a particular group, we would not generally exclude people from joining the Free Speech Union, or try and kick out existing members, for engaging in uncivil behaviour (although we reserve the right to do so). The Free Speech Union believes that if society doesn’t uphold the right to express controversial, eccentric, heretical, provocative or unwelcome opinions, then it doesn’t uphold free speech.
As George Orwell put it, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”