PRESS RELEASE
New free speech campaign to train up advocates in UK and US
22 Aug 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Index on Censorship, one of the world’s leading freedom of expression groups, wants to reverse the trend of free speech being pitted against advocacy for social change. Today, Index is pleased to announce the opening of Free Speech Is For Me to applicants. The aim is to equip a broad new range of individuals to challenge censorship, defend speech rights and champion freedom of expression for all activists.

Free speech has been critical to social movements throughout history. Groups leverage their right to free speech to challenge those who are protecting the status quo. But lately many of the loudest voices demanding “free speech” seek to use it primarily to spread hate, leading many to question it as a value – and paving the way for a rise in demands for censorship. 

“‘Free speech’ has become a dirty word in the last few years,” said Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg. “Free Speech Is For Me aims to show how freedom of expression furthers democracy and individual liberty, and benefits everyone. If we allow free speech protections to be weakened, we lose our greatest tool in advocating for change.”

Free Speech Is For Me will offer twelve places–six in the US and six in the UK. Selected applicants will receive one-on-one support from leading free speech experts, as well as media, communications and public speaking training. Participants will gain a clearer understanding of the challenges of censorship and the tools to overcome them, as well as how to best advocate for and use free speech principles within their communities and advocacy areas.

In the United States, the program will run in collaboration with the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Who can apply?

Index is seeking applicants who bring a different point of view to discussions of free speech. Six people in the US and six people in the UK will be recruited from communities that may have questioned the value of free expression principles in recent years. These might include, but are not limited to, groups working on racial justice, religious and ethnic minorities, and sex and gender rights activists. 

Applicants may come from all age groups. Particular consideration will be given to activists who have experienced the shutting down of speech.

We want applicants who will champion free speech as a right that benefits them and their peers and is essential to their cause, but is also a right shared by all.

What will the program involve?
Successful applicants will receive:

  • Mentoring: Participants will be paired with experienced free speech advocates who will act as advisors and mentors to each individual over the course of the training. There will be 4-6 meetings delivered either face to face or virtually, plus additional support as needed.
  • Media training: Participants will receive one full day of professional media training plus regular training on public speaking/writing as necessary.
  • Public events: Participants will be given the skills to talk about issues of free speech at public events, in private meetings and in the media, particularly as applies to their other advocacy work. We will work with the advocates to identify these opportunities. 
  • We will pay expenses to attend training and a speaker fee for events and writing.

Applicants can find out more at this webpage:.

https://www.indexoncensorship.org/free-speech-is-for-me/

About Index on Censorship

Index on Censorship is a London-based non-profit organisation that publishes work by censored writers and artists and campaigns against censorship worldwide. Since its founding in 1972, Index on Censorship has published some of the greatest names in literature in its award-winning quarterly magazine, including Samuel Beckett, Nadine Gordimer, Mario Vargas Llosa, Arthur Miller and Kurt Vonnegut. It also has published some of the world’s best campaigning writers from Vaclav Havel to Elif Shafak.

About the National Coalition Against Censorship

The National Coalition Against Censorship promotes freedom of thought, inquiry and expression. An alliance of more than 50 national non-profits, NCAC has been advocating for free speech principles for 45 years.

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