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This Is What Happens When a Nation Does Not Protect Speech

On Constitution Day last week, the Cato Institute published a video of FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko drawing on her experiences as a foreign service officer to explain exactly why free speech is so crucial.

In the video for Cato, Catherine describes her experience as a foreign service officer in Hungary. She explains how, on a cold day in March 1987, she came home to find that someone had been in her apartment. Her shoes were strewn everywhere; her windows had been left open. Someone had been in her home, and they hadn’t bothered to hide it.

“The message from the Hungarian secret service was clear,” Catherine says. “‘We’re watching you.’”

Catherine then describes how, during the rest of her time in Hungary—and then when she was stationed in Moscow—she kept a lot of her thoughts to herself. Self-censorship was all too easy. It was these experiences that increased her passion for the First Amendment and free speech.

Academia, student free speech, and her parents all take center stage in Catherine’s video for Cato. Be sure to check it out!

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