The line between freedom of speech and the freedom to incite violence is one of the hardest distinctions to put into practice. Toby Young, however, who has recently created the Free Speech Union, may have a better idea than most.
Two years ago, when Theresa May was still the prime minister of the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party appointed Toby Young as a member of the Board of the Office for Students. Despite it being an unpaid position, Young quickly accepted it, and yet within a few days, he had not only lost that job but four others.
Young suffered from the sordid affliction of conservatism, and because of this, his qualifications were overlooked. Almost as soon as he was appointed, legions of offence archaeologists began to excavate through decades of articlesinevitably digging up artifacts that would soon cost him his livelihood.
They dug up some stuff, took it out of context, and portrayed me as a bigot, said Young. It was trial by social media: guilty until proven innocent and, by the way, youre not going to have a chance to defend yourself. I ended up not only having to step down from the regulator, but also from four other positions, including my day job running an education charity. It was brutalI lost two stone.
By appointing Youngwho perhaps was even an overqualified candidatethe British Conservative Party had committed the unpardonable sin. They had appointed someone with the exact virtues needed for the position: industry knowledge, a public profile, and, most importantly, outspoken and lucid principles. And yet, it was precisely these qualities that led to Youngs downfall.
Within hours, the platoons of the progressives had trudged through decades of articles and social media posts. At one point, all ten of the Spectators most viewed articles in their archive, which dates back to 1828, were authored by Young. As the editor of Spectator noted, Youngs army of detractors were hard at work.
Youngs ordeal is not as remote as it may seem. These tacticsowing in part to their efficacyhave begun to seep into democracy itself. Take, for instance, Justin Trudeaus tactics in the 2019 election, where the Liberal apparatus took the form of a constant barrage of oppo research deployed against Conservative candidates.
Mercifully enough for the Conservatives, the state-funded offence excavator, indulgent in its smugness, was retired after Justin Trudeaus penchant for blackface emerged. Nevertheless, within a few weeks, the Liberal Party had time to craft and exhibit the online transgressions of six separate opposition candidates.
All this has sent an unequivocal message to Conservatives: If you dare oppose the prevailing orthodoxy of the dayor in the case of those Conservative candidates, dare oppose Canadas natural governing partyyou will suffer first public humiliation and then unemployment.
Free speech has never been in more peril across the Anglosphere than at any time since the Second World War, said Young. Why? Because the regressive Left has launched a ferocious attack on free speech and the progressive Left doesnt have the intestinal fortitude to defend it.
As a result of this, Young has launched the first major revolt against those who no longer value free-speech or ideological diversity. With a group of internationally recognized academics, public intellectuals, and journalists, Young has created the Free Speech Union,aimed at defending those who have exercised their right to free speech. I want to stop the same thing happening to other people, which is why Ive set up the union, said Young.
The Free Speech Union is perhaps the only available means to defend yourself against the tactics of the far-left. If you are a member, the union will mobilize an army of supporters to defend you against outrage mobs. They will also launch counter-petitions, defend you in the media, and provide legal assistance whenever it is reasonably possible.
We will challenge outrage mobs in a variety of ways, said Young. If bullies come after one of our members on social media, well go after them. If the woke witch-finders start a petition demanding that one of our members is fired, well start a counter-petition. If one of our British-based members faces a disciplinary processor is firedwell give them access to legal advice and, if necessary, help them crowd-fund to pay their costs. The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders need to band together too.
Speaking to The Post Millennial, the prolific Canadian editor of Quillette Jonathan Kay commended the ambition of the union. I hope it works, he said. Kay, however, did express caution over the capability of the union: the problem is that if somebody really wants to cancel someone, the pressure points come from within their own professional milieus. The cancellers dont care if youre in some kind of free speech union. It would only work if thousands and thousands of people joined it.
The good news is that the Free Speech Union is well on its way to garnering this support. Speaking about the reception the Union has received, Young said that it has been very well received by conservatives and by some members of the progressive left.
One example of this is the Conservative leadership candidate Erin OToole, who told The Post Millennial that free speech is the foundation of a free and democratic society. Conservatives need to stand united against the threat posed by cancel culture. The left is trying to intimidate into silence conservativesand even those on the left who question the most extreme views. This is a real threat that we need to take seriously.
The Free Speech Union has suffered some criticism from the usual candidates. The regressive Left, for instance, have done their best to portray it as an organization thats been set up to protect male, pale and stale conservatives like me from the consequences of hate speech.
This attempted portrayal may be a difficult task for Youngs army of detractors. So far, the five-person Board of Directors includes a gay man and a woman of colour, making the Free Speech Union, as Young said, more diverse, in every sense, than the BBC.
Speaking on the necessity for free speech, Young paraphrased Ira Glasser, the former head of the ACLU: speech restrictions are like poison gas. They seem like a great weapon when youve got your target in sight. But then the wind shifts.
Combative metaphors aside, it would be more constructive for the regressive left to join the union, or at least not work against it. After all, Youngs detractors proclaim themselves to be liberals. Shouldnt they commit to a cause that defends the central tenet of liberalism: free speech? To silence any voice is to impoverish the world and our decision-making capacity. The free speech Young is trying to protect is our individual liberty: we negate it at our cost.
- No masks allowed: stores turn customers away in US culture war - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Vaccination and coronavirus: Public good clashes with choice, freedom - UPI News - May 24th, 2020
- Have We Weaponized Virtue? - lareviewofbooks - May 24th, 2020
- Hate Speech and the New Tyranny over the Mind - Heritage.org - May 24th, 2020
- [ANALYSIS] The right to call the government crazy - Rappler - May 24th, 2020
- How a 20-year-old student put the spotlight on Australian universities' cosy relationship with China - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Freedom of Speech Is Under the Gun as the Virus Spreads in Russia - The Nation - May 11th, 2020
- Divorcing Parents Have a Right to Post Their Stories Online, Court Says - The New York Times - May 11th, 2020
- Gov. Whitmer becomes target of dozens of threats on private Facebook groups ahead of armed rally in Lansing - Detroit Metro Times - May 11th, 2020
- Readers' Letters: 'Hate bill an attack on free speech and could affect football and comedy' - Evening Telegraph - May 11th, 2020
- Big TCPA Supreme Court Oral Argument Complete: Here Are the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the Barr v. AAPC TCPA Review Right Now -... - May 11th, 2020
- Assange's US Extradition, Threat to Future of the Internet and Democracy - CounterPunch - May 11th, 2020
- Readers React: Are the reopen protests about free speech or presidential politics? - The San Diego Union-Tribune - May 6th, 2020
- The SNPs war on free speech - Spiked - May 6th, 2020
- The best political reads to keep on your bookshelf - Spectator.co.uk - May 6th, 2020
- A Contrarian's View of the Uses, and Abuses, of Free Speech - Jewish Week - April 9th, 2020
- Update: Signature Gatherers and Solicitors | Downey Brand LLP - JD Supra - April 9th, 2020
- U of I protests of the 1960s - Illinois Times - April 9th, 2020
- China Appointed To UN Human Rights Panel To Help Identify Threats To Free Speech - The Daily Wire - April 9th, 2020
- A Zionist attack on free speech - Redress Information & Analysis - April 9th, 2020
- How the Chinese Government Undermined the Chinese People's Attempts to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 - Heritage.org - April 9th, 2020
- ACLJ to File Amicus Brief with Supreme Court in Pro-Life Speech Case Battling the Abortion Distortion - American Center for Law and Justice - April 9th, 2020
- The Right Constitutional Philosophy for This Moment - The Atlantic - March 31st, 2020
- Lebanese Activists Fear Hezbollah-led Government Is Using Coronavirus to Solidify Power - VOA News - March 31st, 2020
- Improving decision-making in the face of growing misinformation - Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa - March 31st, 2020
- Ming Pao row: If we learn anything from the virus outbreak, it should be the importance of free speech - Hong Kong Free Press - March 31st, 2020
- Freedom of speech 'is the property of the left of politics' - Sky News Australia - March 31st, 2020
- No one is safe from the puritanical poison of wokeness says SIR JOHN HAYES - Express - March 31st, 2020
- ASG introduces three resolutions, votes on advocacy committee - The Daily Northwestern - March 5th, 2020
- Why Toby Young and other robust white men are using free speech to whip universities - The Guardian - March 5th, 2020
- A Slap in the Face: Chinese Readers Share Their Coronavirus Stories - The New York Times - March 5th, 2020
- Opposition to Ted Nugent - Villages-News - March 5th, 2020
- Bitcoin Is the Technology of Dissent That Secures Individual Liberties - Bitcoin Magazine - March 5th, 2020
- NRB Resolves that Religious Liberty & Freedom of Speech Must Prevail - MissionsBox - March 5th, 2020
- No platforming nowhere near as productive as debate or conversation - The Badger Herald - March 5th, 2020
- When The PC Police Come For Our Books - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com - March 5th, 2020
- Following the crowd - Education - WORLD News Group - March 5th, 2020
- How progressives and conservatives have changed the debate over freedom of speech - Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) - February 27th, 2020
- What transgenderism and Islam have in common: Destroying free speech - Lifesite - February 27th, 2020
- Hitler would be very proud of the Aalst Carnival in Belgium! - The Times of Israel - February 27th, 2020
- Facebook and Zuckerberg keep getting freedom of expression wrong - The Next Web - January 21st, 2020
- Sheffield Arena urged to cancel event by 'homophobic' Trump ally - The Guardian - January 21st, 2020
- Ninth Circuit Affirms Anti-Libel Injunction, Rejects Overbroad Portion - Reason - January 21st, 2020
- What we still havent learned from Gamergate - Vox.com - January 21st, 2020
- Montclair State Univ. Sued for 'Unconstitutional' Speech Policy and Favoring One Student Group Over Another Based on Their Beliefs - CBN News - January 21st, 2020
- POV: Trump's Executive Order Aimed at Protecting Jews Will Have a Chilling Effect on Freedom of Speech at Colleges - BU Today - December 21st, 2019
- 92% of Americans think their basic rights are being threatened, new poll shows - USA TODAY - December 21st, 2019
- Trump's Executive Order Targets Federal Funding to Universities in Suppression of Speech on Palestinian Rights - International Middle East Media... - December 21st, 2019
- Washington State's Mike Leach responds to Donald Trump impeachment: 'I'm yet to hear what he did wrong' - Sports and Weather Right Now - December 21st, 2019
- Impeachment won't slow the global rise of the radical right but an alternative vision might - Salon - December 21st, 2019
- Over Regulating Intermediaries: Threat To Free Speech? - Inc42 Media - December 15th, 2019
- Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom to be adopted - News - The University of Sydney - December 15th, 2019
- Is YouTube Cracking Down on Free Speech With New 'Harassment Policy'? - NewsBusters - December 15th, 2019
- Johnson orders universities to protect freedom of speech - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Freedom of speech must trump safe spaces in universities, minister says - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Alberta premier says energy war room will be respectful as it takes on critics - CFJC Today Kamloops - December 15th, 2019
- Amnesty International Canada Questions Freedom of Speech and Assembly - Reason - December 13th, 2019
- Why we need to stop believing freedom of speech is a dangerous thing - Marie Claire UK - December 13th, 2019
- Drawing the Line: When Does Freedom of Speech Go Too Far? - SUNY The New Paltz Oracle - December 13th, 2019
- RTI is Inbuilt within Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, says Bombay HC - Moneylife - December 13th, 2019
- Opinion: The clear line between hate speech and free speech - DW (English) - November 26th, 2019
- Appleton school board signs off on policy that some say endangers free speech, others see as a constitutional safeguard - Post-Crescent - November 26th, 2019
- What to Be Thankful For | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute - November 26th, 2019
- Universities Enabling the Hijacking of Free Speech When Jews are Involved - The Times of Israel - November 26th, 2019
- Documentary Takes Aim At Higher Eds Free Speech Violations - Washington Free Beacon - November 26th, 2019
- Should the First Amendment protect language deemed to be hate speech? - The Vector: NJIT's Student Newspaper - November 26th, 2019
- Fight to protect your freedom of speech - The Saint - November 26th, 2019
- Improv joke reaction: What about free speech? - Mount Airy News - November 26th, 2019
- Trump defends Yovanovitch attack: 'I have freedom of speech' | TheHill - The Hill - November 17th, 2019
- 'Critical Infrastructure' Bill Is a Major Threat to Freedom of Speech - Shepherd Express - November 17th, 2019
- Free speech rights a concern in Wisconsin water resolution - Minneapolis Star Tribune - November 17th, 2019
- Freedom of speech and freedom from lies - Opinion - Cape Cod Times - November 17th, 2019
- Trump: 'I Have Freedom of Speech Just as Other People Do' - MRCTV - November 17th, 2019
- Freedom of speech and its consequences - BCLocalNews - November 17th, 2019
- Free speech in Canada: It was bad five years ago. Do you think it's gotten better since? - National Post - November 17th, 2019
- The American Internet Sucks. The Alternative Is China. - BuzzFeed News - November 17th, 2019
- On free speech, a new era and that blocking thing | Editorial - Chico Enterprise-Record - October 27th, 2019
- Sydney University to consider updating Freedom of Speech Charter - News - The University of Sydney - October 27th, 2019
- SABAG: Promoting Anti-Semitism By Perverting The Freedom Of Speech - The Daily Wire - October 24th, 2019
- Analysis: The Long Arm Of China And Free Speech - NPR - October 11th, 2019