USA Today: Do we still believe in free speech? Only until we disagree (In the News)

USA Today: Do we still believe in free speech? Only until we disagree

By Anders Gyllenhaal

After a century of building free speech rights into our laws and culture, Americans are backing away from one of the country’s defining principles.

Set off by the nation’s increasingly short fuse, students, politicians, teachers and parents are not just refusing to hear each other out, we’re coming up with all sorts of ways of blocking ideas we don’t agree with…

“When people quit listening to each other, there’s that lack of discussion and a lack of understanding,” said Bradley A. Smith, the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. “That’s when there’s a growing tendency to think the other side shouldn’t be able to say what they think.”…

Today’s conflicts are the most complicated yet and show no sign of easing. But as more than one scholar has pointed out, free speech is the starting place for all our other rights. We shouldn’t lose sight of what’s at stake: Without the free flow of ideas, the American experiment cannot succeed.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.