Christopher Hitchens on Free Speech and Freedom of Expression

Hitchens does one of the best jobs I’ve ever come across of explaining why freedom of speech is so important.

There is a profound difference between having to agree with somebody’s opinions, and everybody having the right to their own opinions, and the right to voice those views.

This speech is from a debate at Hart House, University of Toronto. Christopher Hitchens’ speech is in favor of decriminalizing hate speech, and why that free speech must include hate speech. The debate (and lecture by Hitchens), which included members from Canada’s government, was a bill, then in discussions, regarding the decriminalization of hate speech, insofar as it is protected speech irrespective of its reprehensibility.


About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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4 Responses to Christopher Hitchens on Free Speech and Freedom of Expression

  1. pienmash says:

    If you embrace ‘freedom of speech’ you may find this Award Winning Film interesting – ‘Billy & Lilly go to New York’ for film followers who have a passion for truth and justice.

    You may already believe that you cannot rely on official sources of information and realise that you need to look at alternative media in order to gain a better understanding of the world’s ruling establishments such as the Monarchy, Religious Institutions and Parliamentary and Federal Authorities. You may already believe that governments allow crime because it is profitable!

    Presenting the truth can be dangerous!

    And here are some strong views by ‘maverick’ Bill Maloney directed at BBC Newsnight interviewer at the G20 protests, London: Please leave comments if you feel inclined.

    Find out more about Bill Maloney and his controversial films and documentaries at:

    • Jeff Randall says:

      There does not seem to be a whole lot of information about this movie out there, but from one synopsis I read it sounds quite interesting.

      I am quite curious though, what do you mean by “alternative media”? Do you mean blogs and other online venues? Or specific websites? Or something else?

      While the movie you’re promoting here sounds interesting, a few things you say come across as very much those from the mind of a conspiracy theorist. Such as when you say “You may already believe that governments allow crime because it is profitable!” and “Presenting the truth can be dangerous!”.
      Also on the YouTube video you linked to there are a number of comments that are supportive of Alex Jones, who is a well known conspiracy nut.
      Comments like that make me tend to want to write you off as a bit of a nut.
      As well, Bill Maloney comes across as a bit of a raving maniac in this video as well.

      But with all that said, I will give this movie a chance, because the topic of the movie (health care differences between the US and Britain) is one that I am interested in, and one that is quite topical at the moment.

      • pienmash says:

        Hello Jeff,
        Maniac here! I just felt I had to respond to your comment. Personally I prefer ‘passionate’ to ‘maniac’ though others, who work with me, possibly agree with your description.

        At the moment I’m working on a 3-hour child abuse documentary film ‘Adam Rickwood & The Medomsley Heroes’: I am 54 and am probably what is known as ‘old school’. And am part of that rapidly disappearing culture of people who literally ‘shout’ for freedom of speech. ‘Billy & Lilly go to New York’ was motivated by the poor, downtrodden and the educationally abandoned.

        I would like to thank you for your comment Jeff, as the work that we do at Pie ‘n’ Mash Films can be very arduous, depressing and, at times, dangerous. So I would like to thank you for making this filmmaker chuckle.

        Oh! And by the way Jeff, who the fuck is Alex Jones?

        If you buy ‘Billy & Lilly go to New York’ and don’t like it – I will send your £9.99 to a charity of your choice.

        Once again, thank you for lightening my day.
        Bill Maloney

      • Jeff Randall says:

        The idea that you are “passionate” is in no doubt. It’s clear from the videos that you firmly believe your point of view. What is not clear is just how valid your arguments are.

        In the first YouTube video (I have not watched the second yet, but I will) you come across as if you’re ranting somewhat uncontrollably. I don’t think they you take the chance to understand the perspective of others, including the person interviewing you. It seems clear, at least to me, that you have a number of points you want to make, and it seems that somebody could have asked you the color of the sky, and your answers would not have changed even in the slightest.

        I see no problem with shouting for freedom of speech, but there are times when a civil conversation is more effective. And turns off less people.

        Who is Alex Jones… Well that’s an interesting can of worms. I’d recommend just googling him and seeing for yourself. What I will say is that there has never been a conspiracy theory that he did not believe unquestioningly.

        But like I said before, the issue your movie delves into is a very important one, and I do plan (when I have a bit of free time) to watch it and see what it’s all about.
        If I really like it (or really hate it) then perhaps I’ll end up doing a review here with my thoughts…

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