FIRE puts ads on television

July 13, 2023 • 9:00 am

Imagine my surprise when I was watching the NBC Evening News the last two nights and each program included a different ad for the Foundation of Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). FIRE is perhaps the most visible and efficacious of all free speech groups—the ACLU has become hopeless—and I found these ads heartening, though it must have cost the organization a pile.

I found a way to embed them here, and I’ll put up four ads I found on the Internet. They’re only 30 seconds to one minute long, so watch them all. Go free speech!

This is one that I saw, which I think is very good. I have no idea whether it will touch the average American.

On comedy and free expression.  There are a few scenes of disgruntled audience members attacking comedians.

I particularly like this one, as it shows two guys (one is Colin Kaepernick) who have two opposing views but can get along, each expressing his feelings in public.  I particularly like the last words of the former Green Beret: “We have a right to speak out; that’s what we fought for.”

And a conservative:


25 thoughts on “FIRE puts ads on television

  1. As a FIRE member, but also as one who doesn’t watch television, I appreciate you posting these, Jerry. I quit the ACLU and joined FIRE a while back, and continue to believe that was the right choice.

          1. I read the ACLU memo, which was not “secret” but merely confidential until they had discussed it internally before publishing it.
            More importantly, I found nothing in it that I would consider anything other than reasonable and responsible.

          2. Umm. . . “secret” and “confidential” are a distinction without a difference.

            Here’s one objectionable part where the ACLU decides whether to consider a free-speech case or not:

             The impact of the proposed speech and the impact of its suppression: Our defense of
            speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which
            we are also committed, depending on factors such as the (present and historical) context of the proposed speech; the potential effect on marginalized communities; the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are
            contrary to our values; and the structural and power inequalities in the community in which
            the speech will occur. At the same time, not defending such speech from official suppression
            may also have harmful impacts, depending on the breadth or viewpoint-based character of
            the suppression, the precedent that allowing suppression might create for the rights of other
            speakers, and the impact on the credibility of the ACLU as a staunch and principled
            defender of free speech. Many of these impacts will be difficult if not impossible to
            measure, and none of them should be dispositive. But as an organization equally committed
            to free speech and equality, we should make every effort to consider the consequences of
            our actions, for constitutional law, for the community in which the speech will occur, and
            for the speaker and others whose speech might be suppressed in the future.

            Now they’re considering “harm” and “hate speech” to marginalized communities. They didn’t do this when they defended the Nazi’s right to march through Skokie. They didn’t used to consider stuff like “power inequalities,” but only civil liberties.

            You may not have found anything objectionable, but plenty of people did, especially their mission creep. Read this. Ira Glasser, former head of the ACLU, found it objectionable, too.

          3. You are right, PCC(E). An organization cannot be committed “equally” to free speech and equality. A servant who has two masters must lie to one of them. MacMillan’s Corollary is that he usually lies to both, to serve his own interests. The reference to white supremacy gives the game away.

  2. Thank you for this information, excellent – I did not know about FIRE. I have signed up with them and also made a small donation.

    1. Sorry to say I no longer will support FIRE. They sent out an email glorifying SCOTUS’ Elenis decision allowing a graphic designer to violate a Colorado law protecting the gay community from disparate treatment based in the graphic designer’s religious beliefs. FIRE claimed it was a huge victory for freedom of expression. No thank you.

      1. Not everyone shares your precious. The U.S. Supreme Court, and FIRE, got this right. This case is closer to the free expression of burning a rainbow flag than it is to refusing to rent a motel room to a same-sex couple. I thought FIRE did a good job in their e-mail explaining the difference.

        The Court didn’t allow the graphic designer to violate a law. It found that the law, which stands, didn’t apply to the graphic designer’s actions.

      2. I think they’re right. I’ve seen people claim that this decision means people could refuse to serve gay, etc. people at a restaurant, refuse to sell merchandise, and so on. but my understanding is that it is much narrower than that, essentially saying that you can’t be forced to speak in support of something you disagree with. Should government be allowed to make laws saying that if I offered creative services (writing, art, etc.) then I couldn’t refuse to support politicians like Trump or religious organizations I profoundly disagree with in my work? This is very different from, for example, selling someone tacos at a restaurant. I don’t have to indicate approval of a person, their beliefs or lifestyle to sell them food.

        1. Your understanding is correct. It’s right there in the majority opinion.

          Just to clarify, under Colorado’s law you couldn’t be prosecuted for refusing to lend your voice as an artist to a political cause. Political affiliation, or “just can’t stand the guy” is not a “protected category” it is forbidden to discriminate against. Sexual orientation, race, creed, and sex (not a complete list) are prohibited grounds in providing public accommodation. You could refuse to sell tacos to DonaldTrump or rent a motel room to Joe Biden if you thought it was good business, as long as you didn’t refuse service to Mr. Biden because he’s a Roman Catholic.

          The issue here was not whether sexual orientation was or ought to be a protected group—it is—-but whether graphic design was public accommodation or protected free expression. The Supreme Court said it was the latter, as you indicate.

          The dynamic here is that getting your own group recognized in human/civil rights law as a “protected” group leads some members of the group to expect to be valorized and privileged in all human interactions: “I’m gay, (or black, or disabled.) Therefore you have to give me whatever I want.” Affirmative action and reparations are never far behind such demands. The moral arc of history needs a little shortening of the radius sometimes.

  3. I have actually seen an ad for the Freedom From Religion Foundation
    on national tv earlier this year.

    1. Was that the one with Ron Reagan that ends, “not afraid of burning in Hell”?

      Unfortunately FFRF has strayed from its mission and principles a bit recently, having gone all in on transgender ideology. They also attacked the recent affirmative action decision in very woke terms, calling it an example of “white Christian nationalism”.

  4. I have been unsuccessful in getting FIRE to advertise my case. I suspect they have many cases to choose from and mine is a little complicated. However, I persuaded the local public radio station to include the following sponsor statement in their programming: “WEKU is supported by listener Dave Porter, professor in exile, continuing the struggle for academic freedom and due process for students and faculty. More on Dave and his story at”

  5. Excellent ads, we need something like these in NZ; although I’m pretty sure our TV stations would refuse to run them.

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