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More than 15,000 free speech advocates sign Philadelphia Statement

Oct 8, 2020 by AFP

Americans for Prosperity CEO Emily Seidel stands alongside thousands of fellow Americans in endorsing the Philadelphia Statement in defense of the right of all Americans to speak their minds.

The right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment is foundational. It makes possible the pluralistic society we live in, and creates the conditions for all Americans to think, speak, and come together freely.

To achieve lasting change, to innovate, to grow, we must have the right to challenge each other and ourselves without fear.

If we seek to change our country’s trajectory; if we desire unity rather than division; if we want a political life that is productive and inspiring; if we aspire to be a society that is pluralistic and free, one in which we can forge our own paths and live according to our own consciences, then we must renounce ideological blacklisting and recommit ourselves to steadfastly defending freedom of speech and passionately promoting robust civil discourse.

Suppressing free expression has rarely yielded the results those who imposed restrictions hoped for. On the contrary, they more often become the victims of their own excesses.

What self-appointed speech arbiters, whether in the majority or in the minority, fail to grasp is that they will likely eventually become the targets. The winds inevitably shift, sometimes rapidly. The question is whether civility norms and free-speech safeguards will remain in place to protect them, or whether they will become victims of the dangerous precedents they themselves have established and advanced.

Central to the idea of free expression is that the right to express one’s thoughts without fear or favor applies to all.

… the idea of “hate speech” exceptions to free speech principles is foreign to our free speech ideals, impossible to define, and often used by those wielding political, economic, or cultural power to silence dissenting voices. That is why we must favor openness, to allow ideas and beliefs the chance to be assessed on their own merits; and we must be willing to trust that bad ideas will be corrected not through censorship but through better arguments.

The Statement quotes the great statesman Fredrick Douglass, who even on the precipice of civil war reminded his fellow citizens that “liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist.”

Our nation was founded, and continues to prosper, on the shared ideals that all of us are created equal, we all have inherent worth. The Philadelphia Statement reasserts those values.

Read more about the Philadelphia Statement here, and explore Americans for Prosperity’s record of defending free expression here, here, here, and here.