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Public Policy

Celebrating the Language of America - Free Speech

October 15, 2013

We often take for granted that we can immerse ourselves in amazing entertainment and information on hundreds of channels that grace cable TV.  If you read our blog or look at our web pages, you know how proud we are of the technology, investment, infrastructure, and creativity that enable that experience for all Americans.

There’s a critical foundation supporting this great American cornucopia that we may also take for granted, and which we don’t nearly talk enough about.  It’s our freedom of speech.

Imagine a world in which Breaking Bad, Homeland, Game of Thrones or The Newsroom first had to clear government censors to get on the air.  They would no longer be there for our enjoyment – or as creative vehicles for their writers, producers, directors, and actors.

Or, think of a universe without the myriad sources of cable news, C-SPAN, broadcast news and public affairs programming on which we’ve come to depend, and to make informed decisions about our government and democracy.  Life in America would be a dramatically different experience.

This hypothetical isn’t limited to television.  Film, stage, books, newspapers, digital media, and the entirety of our public discourse, rest on the Constitutional admonition that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”

While we get wrapped up in the glory of our entertainment and information age, it’s easy to overlook or otherwise forget the wisdom of our forefathers in staking out this territory for us.

That’s why we’ve joined together with partners and peers – such as the National Association of Broadcasters, Motion Picture Association of America, Newspaper Association of America, USTelecom, National Press Photographers Association, and The Media Institute – to recognize and celebrate that decidedly American value: free speech. These organizations, and hundreds of other groups and individuals, are commemorating Free Speech Week from October 21 to 27, to remind us all of the significance of free speech to our culture, society, and daily lives as Americans.

We’ll use the week, with public and private events in Washington and across the country, to study and reflect on the history of free speech in America, the challenges it faces regularly, and the catalyst it is for the entertainment and information about which we’ve become so dependent on.  We’d invite and encourage you to do the same –to imagine this great nation without the foundation of free speech, and to celebrate the fruits of that freedom.

Find out more about how to participate by visiting www.freespeechweek.org; tracking the conversation on Twitter at #freedomspeaks; or checking out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FreeSpeechWeek. Oh, and our right to free speech enables you to comment below on this blog post.  We hope this annual commemoration further strengthens our commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas in a vibrant society.