Episode 4 – Free Expression

Interviewees Robert Simpson and Caroline West explore the nature of free speech and the role of censorship.

Teacher Notes

Content overview

This episode is primarily focussed on ethical issues arising from freedom of speech. It questions whether (and in what contexts) speech should be restricted or censored, and whether there are some forms of speech (and expression more generally) which should not be protected. The episode considers the question of whether pornography should be considered as free expression, and briefly explores debates related to censorship of video games and other media. It raises the ethical dilemma of whether we should protect the freedom of people to express themselves, or protect people from the harm which can be caused by others’ speech.

Links to Ethical Capability

• Explore the contested meaning of concepts including freedom, justice, and rights and responsibilities, and the extent they are and should be valued by different individuals and groups (VCECU014)
• Investigate why ethical principles may differ between people and groups, considering the influence of cultural norms, religion, world views and philosophical thought (VCECU015)
• Investigate criteria for determining the relative importance of matters of ethical concern (VCECU016)

• Investigate how different factors involved in ethical decision-making can be managed by people and groups (VCECD023)

Complementary curricula

VCE Health & Human Development
VCE Global Politics
VCE Media (Unit 2)

7-10 Syllabus PDHPE
HSC Community and Family Services

Questions and discussion points

  1. Should we ban or restrict speech which is racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise harms individuals and communities?
  2. How often does an opinion you disagree with appear on your social media feeds? How do you react when someone says something online which you disagree with?
  3. Should I be held responsible for any harm which might speech might cause, even if I had no intent to cause harm?