Free speech debates are raging around us all the time—from college campuses to town halls to dinner tables, we hear debates on the first amendment continuously. However, we don’t always set aside time to appreciate the ‘freedom’ in our freedom of speech.
October 16-22 marks national Free Speech Week in the U.S. The celebration was started just 12 years ago in 2005 by The Media Institute, which intends it to be an “annual, non-partisan nationwide program … to raise awareness of the value of free speech in our democracy,” according to The Media Institute’s website.
One core piece of free speech is the freedom to access news, stories, and information no matter where you are. Of course, bibliophiles think instantly of books, but there are many other important channels for free speech as well. And free speech also gives us the opportunity to listen to things outside our viewpoints or comfort zone. To celebrate Free Speech Week, you could …
- Download a podcast on a topic you know nothing about
- Watch a documentary on a government conspiracy theory
- Listen to a wide-ranging radio show like This American Life
- Read op-eds on subjects you disagree with
- Check out a banned book from a public library
- Blog about threats to free speech, public expression, or a free press
- Go to a town hall meeting or public forum
- Protest a proposal or sign a petition
- Attend an art show
- Teach a friend or child about the history of free speech
- Research what free speech is like in other countries
And of course, you can keep on reading great books that exercise and invigorate our first amendment freedoms. No matter what you think of America, at least you can tell those thoughts to the world. So, spark your creativity and join the national conversation today!