Free Speech

Conversation Guide

When are limitations on free speech justified in America? With the advance of technology, it is easy to connect with our friends, blast our thoughts and feelings to our followers and practice free speech. In this era of “connected all the time”, we long to feel safe, while at the same time we are exposed via social media.

How can we best protect free speech? How do we distinguish between disagreement, bullying and hate speech? Are there areas of common ground to be found?

Background Information:

Political diversity is essential to some conversations. Especially with polarized topics, we encourage you to take extra care and include people who hold different political views. Engaging with people who hold similar views can lead to further entrenchment of our own beliefs and more polarization.

While you don’t need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through three rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before You Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

Introductions: Getting Started/
Why Are We Here?

What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 2:

What are your thoughts on Free Speech?

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer ​one or more of the following questions:
  • What norms do you follow with your own expression?
  • Should people be allowed to say whatever they want? Why or why not?
  • When does speech become abusive?
  • When does political correctness go too far?
  • When someone says something stupid (not bullying) online, what is an appropriate consequence?

Round 3: Reflection & Next Steps

Answer ​one or more​ of the following questions:
  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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Thank You!

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