Free Speech | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Free Speech

What We Defend

Freedom of speech is a human right and a fundamental American freedom. It’s essential for democracy, scientific progress, artistic expression, social justice, peace, and each individual’s ability to live authentically. 

At FIRE, we believe free speech is a force for good. 

We also know it’s under threat. 

FIRE’s vision is an America in which people overwhelmingly believe in the right of others to freely express views different from their own, and expect their laws and educational institutions to reflect and teach this belief.

Arguments for freedom: The many reasons why free speech is essential

Peaceful protest with young woman speaking into a megaphone.
Stanford Law School student Nicholas Wallace stands before the school entrance
No student should ever face the threat of a degree hold for exercising their free speech rights.

Satire is not a crime

When Stanford University launched an investigation into Nicholas Wallace over a satirical email, FIRE sprang into action so he wouldn’t miss graduation.

How Does Your School Compare?

College Rankings

FIRE’s 2022 College Free Speech Rankings are based on the voices of more than 44,000 currently enrolled students at 208 colleges and are designed to help parents and prospective students choose the right school.

Find a School

Rank School Overall Speech Code
1 University of Chicago Private 77.92/100 Green
2 Kansas State University Public 76.2/100 Green
3 Purdue University Public 75.81/100 Green
4 Mississippi State University Public 74.72/100 Green
5 Oklahoma State University - Stillwater Public 74.35/100 Yellow
6 Claremont McKenna College Private 72.65/100 Green
7 University of North Carolina - Greensboro Public 68.72/100 Green
8 Northern Arizona University Public 68.5/100 Green
9 North Carolina State University - Raleigh Public 67.93/100 Green
10 Oregon State University Public 67.42/100 Green

Defending Your Rights

FIRE defends and sustains the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the essential qualities of liberty — and carries out this mission through several core services.

FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus

Resources

Too many college campuses silence students who dare exercise their right to free expression. For a more thorough analysis of your expressive rights at colleges and universities, consult FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus. 

Read Free Speech Guide

Ira Glasser looking over NYC skyline.

Watch Trailer

FIRE’s Feature Documentary: ‘Mighty Ira’

Amid high-profile controversies surrounding free speech and racial equality, former ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser reflects on his life at the forefront of defending the rights of all Americans.

Watch the Movie

74

In 2021 alone, FIRE’s Campus Rights Advocacy team won 74 campus rights victories, impacting the rights of thousands of college students and faculty.

459

Since 1999, FIRE has won 459 defense victories at 283 colleges and universities.

1,608

In 2021, FIRE vetted over 1,600 case submissions involving individuals and groups who said their rights were threatened.

500k

In 2021, FIRE’s College Policy Reform team won 47 policy-change victories affecting nearly 500,000 students.

Free Speech Resources

mobile banking transactions concept

FIRE Statement on Free Speech and Online Payment Processors

Issues

Online payment processors like Venmo and PayPal often deny Americans access to these vital services based on their speech or viewpoints. When these companies appoint themselves the arbiters of what speech and views are acceptable, shutting people and organizations out of the online financial ecosystem for wrongthink, they seriously undermine our culture of free expression.

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