Table of contents

Chapter One: Philosophical Justifications
Chapter Two: Constitutional Protections
Chapter Three: Academic Freedom Is Not Free Speech
Chapter Four: Social Media


Clashes over free speech rights and wrongs haunt public debates about the state of democracy, freedom and the future. While freedom of speech is recognized as foundational to democratic society, its meaning is persistently misunderstood and distorted. Prominent commentators have built massive platforms around claims that their right to free speech is being undermined. Critics of free speech correctly see these claims as a veil for misogyny, white-supremacy, colonialism and transphobia, concluding that it is a political weapon to conserve entrenched power arrangements.

Rethinking Free Speech will change the way you think about the politics of speech in the age of social media. Peter Ives offers a new way of thinking about the essential and increasingly contentious debates around the politics of speech. Drawing on political philosophy and everyday examples, Ives takes the reader on a journey through the hotspots of today’s raging speech wars. This book provides a map for critically grasping these battles as they erupt in university classrooms, debates around the meaning of antisemitism, the “cancelling” of racist comedians and the proliferation of hate speech on social media. This is an original and essential guide to the perils and possibilities of communication for democracy and justice.


“This timely, important and accessible book offers both a scholarly overview of and a close critical engagement with freedom of expression, in a way that helps readers move past naïve, monolithic and dogmatic accounts. Ives pays particular attention to social media and the internet, and to differences between Canada and the U.S., making the book essential reading for Canadians in the digital age. It is also highly readable. Pick this book up, and you won’t put it down until you’re done!”

- Dr. Shannon Dea, dean of arts and professor, department of philosophy and classics, University of Regina