On Tuesday, January 27th, Mr. Yaron Brook, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, spoke to members and guests of YAL at Duke University on the topic of “Free Speech and the Battle for Western Civilization.” In his talk, Mr. Brook heralded free speech as the rational replacement for violence in the post-Enlightenment world.
He described governments’ reactions to free speech issues, such as the attack in Paris on the offices of Charlie Hebdo on January 7 of this year. Mr. Brook highlighted the notion that free speech by definition protects the right to offend. In context, then, he advocated that the most appropriate reaction to such an attack is to reiterate the satirical newspaper’s right to free speech, rather than conceding that it had been offensive in its original action.
In this way, the rights of the Charlie Hebdo employees might be staunchly upheld, and the actions of terrorists condemned. Mr. Brook was fairly critical of the way many European officials had handled the episode, looking to blame the “offenders” rather than denounce murderers.
Mr. Brook spoke eloquently and discussed issues of paramount importance not only to the liberty movement in the United States, but to the freedom of those around the globe. Afterwards he took time to answer questions and mingle with YAL members. It was a great experience, and we look forward to hearing from more liberty-minded speakers in the future!