On the 15th of June in Runnymede, Magna Carta Libertatum (the great charter of the liberties) was agreed by King John, his opposition barons and the Archbishop of Canterbury as the legal document which would form the new basis of rights and privileges throughout England. This document from a feudal age had many opponents in its time and as such Magna Carta’s contents went in and out of legal standing due to the political turbulence of the 13th century.
Today, eight-hundred and four years later, Magna Carta remains a crucial symbol of the long standing battle for freedom against tyranny and moreover the battle for free speech against tyrannical censorship. Magna Carta can be viewed as the first step on a long journey into the sunlit uplands of free speech and freedom from state oppression. The Common Law Writ of Habeas corpus and the First Amendment to the US Constitution each trace their origins to the spirit which underscored the events in 13th century Runnymede.
Therefore, at a time when the wicked hand of tyranny is once again raised against champions of free speech throughout the English speaking world, it is time for those who honour and cherish the heritage of freedom to make the public case for the 15th of June to be a public holiday. This day can be known both as “Free Speech Day” and as “Magna Carta Day”. In addition to honouring the events of 1215, it can likewise be used to honour all of the great sacrifices made in order to defend free speech against the secular, religious and corporate entities that have tried to censor free men and women over the centuries.
As the lights of free speech are darkening across the western world, those in countries including Britain, the United States, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and others should all use the 15th of June to honour and to defend the most sacred right of all, that to speak freely in a non-oppressive atmosphere.
The more free speech comes under threat, the more it must be defended in the most public way possible. Since it is unlikely that the powers that be will grant free speech advocates a day of rest on 15 June, those inspired by the guiding beacon of free speech should use the 15th of June to speak in public places about the importance of Magna Carta and subsequent freedoms and why it is important to never let these freedoms be usurped by evil forces.