On the Vital Necessity of Free Speech (are you listening, Saudis)?


The Montreal Press Club marked the occasion of its 70th anniversary in 2018 by initiating a “Freedom Award” to mark the accomplishments of a single exceptionally courageous individual in the world of journalism. They chose as their first recipient Saudi blogger Raif Badawi (, who has been tortured and imprisoned for his views by the oh-so-enlightened rulers of that state. I delivered this lecture on free speech on the occasion of the acceptance of the Press Club award by Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, April 26/2018 (video uploaded August 20).

It is an interesting sidenote that the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, which held the event in collaboration with the Press Club, disavowed their support ( because of the complaints of one Sean Michaels, as I Tweeted here ( Journalist Barbara Kay expressed her opinion about all of that here:

Nectarine News ( recorded this talk and
provided permission for me to repost it. The original can be found here:

It’s very unlikely that the Saudis are listening. Tyrants don’t listen.

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Robert Dunfee