FREE SPEECH

The author TIMOTHY GARTON ASH has written a book entitled FREE SPEECH – Ten Principles for a Connected World. Ash created a website located at Oxford University that Ash developed to promote better free speech on a broad range of sensitive political topics that crosses all cultural divides.

If you go to www.freespeechdebate.com , you will see the scope of the diverse topics that people from the world can comment on and discuss online. Many of the cited topics mentioned on the above website could not be discussed openly in some face-to-face conversations in some communities around the world.

In this regard, listen to the tone and topics of media service coverage in North America and it becomes easy to understand how vulnerable FREE SPEECH and fact-based reporting has become in our world.

Most of you may have heard of the global movement labeled Age-Friendly communities. This global movement started by the United Nations seeks to make all communities around the world friendlier places to live, work and play for older adults in the years to come.

The City of Kingston through the current municipal strategic public policies has been working for at least five years, to develop many new local progressive public policies and new municipal services designed to address the changing needs of our expanding and rapidly aging population. These complex public policy issues of how to make Kingston more Age-Friendly ought to be of potential interest to a broad range of older citizens and their family supporters given the fact that there will be a provincial, municipal and federal elections happening in our community during 2018-2019.

Related to this Age-Friendly community movement is the Age-Friendly University movement that came to my attention from viewing theDublin Ireland Community University (www.DCU.ie) website.

Dublin University in Ireland since 2012 has been promoting globally, the concept and principles of making colleges and universities more attractive to older adults in the 21st century.

In this regard Dublin University is hosting a conference on New Frontiers in Aging, March 13-14, 2018. This upcoming conference is one of many conferences taking place around the world this year all with different focuses on how universities and community stakeholders all benefit when universities, colleges, and communities become more Age-Friendly.

Local organizations like Later Life Learning has for over 30 years in Kingston been a community leader in seeking to address the changing later life learning interests of older adults who choose to remain physically active, intellectually challenged, and socially engaged in their local community.  Perhaps the topics of what public policy decision-makers and local institutional governing bodies are doing to make both our community and our local academic institution’s more age-friendly could become the subject for a future local lecture series?

Freedom of Speech: A Democratic Ideal

Out of 195 independent sovereign nations in the world, there are more than 160 nation-states classed as democratic countries. History and politics have shared quite an extensive story about the rise and fall of autocratic regimes — a long period of war between political and economic systems. 

Among the many core values that paved the way for a democratic process is a right to freedom of speech. A sublime concept that dates back to ancient Greece, it is an all-encompassing right granted to all citizens the liberty to express information, ideas, and beliefs free from government restriction and oppression.

As promising and powerful this right is, what could be its status and meaning in an age of diversity and digital revolution? To what extent could this freedom go further? These questions are answered in Timothy Garton Ash’s book entitled Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World.

About Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World (2016) (2016)

The Free Speech is a manifesto detailing global free speech in the digital age. In today’s time where communication is faster than running, every single one of us has the ability to issue almost anything we like where it could reach hundreds of thousands of people. 

The power offered by this platform sends a strong message on how free speech would connect the world today. In front of our screens and smartphones on our hands, both opportunities and danger are one click away. 

That is why Professor Garton Ash presents his ten guiding principles for a connected world. He argues in his manifesto that the probable way to combine freedom and cultural divides is to have more and better free speech. According to him, one of the many crucial steps necessary to take is for people to learn to agree on how they disagree.

About Timothy Garton Ash

Born in 1955, Timothy Garton Ash CMG FRSA is a British historian, author, and professor. At present, he lectures European studies at Oxford University. With his extensive body of work, awards and honours, he is widely considered as one of the greatest political writers of our time.

Professor Garton Ash’s oeuvre is quite concerned with the late modern and contemporary history of Central and Eastern Europe. Most of his published works are about the said region’s rise and fall of communist regimes and revolutions. It is in those same angles where he challenges ways to combine freedom, diversity, and free speech. Finally, in 2016, his Free Speech was published. 

More on free speech

In spite of sound laws revised and passed to promote a better and healthy platform for free speech, the ever-changing social issues will continue to contest its scope and power. That is why Later Life Learning invites you to check Professor Garton Ash’s www.freespeechdebate.com to see more and diverse topics about this matter.