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‘Free Speech + Other Dirty Words’: SPIN and FIRE unite for video interview series featuring iconic musicians Tom Morello, Melissa Etheridge, and more

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WATCH: “Free Speech + Other Dirty Words” is a partnership between the FIRE and SPIN to showcase iconic artists sharing their stories about freedom of speech, self-expression, and the barriers they crossed to avoid censorship.

‘Free Speech + Other Dirty Words’: SPIN and FIRE unite for video interview series featuring iconic musicians Tom Morello, Melissa Etheridge, and more

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21, 2023 - Legendary media brand SPIN has come together with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) to create a provocative and engaging new video series featuring iconic artists sharing their stories about freedom of speech and self-expression and the barriers they crossed to avoid censorship.

Free Speech + Other Dirty Words” weaves together the fundamental right of free speech with thought-provoking artist interviews. The first two videos feature sit-downs with two artists-turned-activists: Rage Against the Machine guitarist and founder Tom Morello and Grammy-winning rocker Melissa Etheridge.

Morello and Rage Against the Machine have long been known for stoking protest and openly discussing their positions on politics and policy.

“I think there’s only two positions on freedom of speech,” Morello says. “You’re for it or you’re against it.” 

In the ‘90s, Etheridge made waves when she publicly came out after struggling with censorship during her first three records. She recalls the issue being raised by Island Records just before the release of her debut album.

“There was a meeting,” she remembers, “and someone said, ‘So…what are we going to do about the gay thing?’ I didn’t want to be closeted, but it was self-censorship!" 

The series is the latest way SPIN is sparking important discussions and creating inspiring music-related print and video editorial. Since 1985, the cutting-edge media brand has developed a reputation for award-winning journalism and a willingness to dive into provocative topics. Today, SPIN brings this tradition into the digital age, creating a platform where the old school and new school come together to pave the way for new conversations in our current cultural landscape.

For more than two decades, FIRE has been the nation’s leading defender of student and faculty rights on college campuses. In 2022, the organization announced an expansion initiative into off-campus free speech advocacy and legal defense. 

“From Elvis to Ozzy, history is riddled with artists who had to fight for their right to express themselves through their music,” said FIRE Executive Vice President Nico Perrino. “We are thrilled to partner with SPIN to highlight the essential role free expression plays in music through compelling stories from the world’s most talented artists.”

“After nearly 40 years, SPIN continues to drive important conversations through projects like this one, and it’s truly exciting to partner with a free speech thought leader like FIRE,” said SPIN CEO Jimmy Hutcheson. “It’s thrilling to be able to bring together entertainment and policy for discussions that inspire, compel, and lay out the groundwork for change.” 

Free Speech + Other Dirty Words will air exclusively on and the FIRE YouTube channel. 


The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought—the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates Americans about the importance of these inalienable rights, promotes a culture of respect for these rights, and provides the means to preserve them.


SPIN is one of the most recognizable names in music and pop culture. In early 2020, SPIN launched a new generation of the legendary media group, putting the brand back where it belongs — at the center of the zeitgeist. SPIN's digital covers have featured some of today’s biggest stars, including Demi Lovato, The Black Keys, YungBlud, Machine Gun Kelly, Rüfüs Du Sol, Jack Harlow, Denzel Curry, Run the Jewels, and Kehlani, coupled with probing journalism and in-depth interviews, hit series 5 Albums I Can't Live Without, A Day In the Life Of, and Artist x Artist, as well as original videos.  

Media inquiries: 

For SPIN: Dawn Kamerling, The Press House, 

For FIRE: Katie Kortepeter, Communications Campaign Manager,  FIRE,

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