"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear"

George Orwell

About the Free Press Society

Mark Steyn speaking at The Free Press Society´s international conference at the Danish Parliament marking the 10th anniversary of the Mohammad cartoons

Freedom of expression is under tremendous strain. Nationally and globally, writers, artists and politicians are threatened upon their lives and/or with their livelihoods, or sued in court for expressing particular views. Fear, self-censorship and oppressive anti-defamation laws are in the process of undermining our main liberty: Freedom of expression.

Without freedom of expression there is no such thing as a free society.

The Free Press Society is Denmark's largest organization regarding the defense of the right to express oneself freely, and we put all our efforts into resisting the pressure on our freedom of expression. We defend this freedom no matter who threatens it. We are not afraid of calling things by their name and we are convinced that the biggest threat against freedom of speech currently comes from Islam.

The work of the Free Press Society

We have provided support to those whose lives are threatened because they have expressed their opinions in public through print, drawings or other means: Salman Rushdie, Flemming Rose, Kurt Westergaard, Robert Redeker, Geert Wilders, Ehsan Jami, Lars Vilks and many more. And to those who have been dragged to court for holding legitimate, critical views. Amongst those: Gregorius Nekschot, Mark Steyn, Lars Kragh Andersen and the Iranian born artist and blogger Firoozeh Bazrafkan. Furthermore, we defend public servants who find themselves forced out of their jobs because they have the courage to express inconvenient truths. People such as Linda Maria Koldau, Ingemann Olsen and Thilo Sarrazin.

We document extensively both on our website and on our Facebook page, where we gather the latest news regarding threats to freedom of expression. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said, "At a time when Western civilization is threatened both from the outside and from the inside, the Danish Free Press Society is an important ally in the struggle to consolidate and preserve the most crucial and fundamental right in a free society - freedom of speech”.

It is only the Free Press Society’s chairman who receives compensation for his or her work. Everybody else does work for the society on a voluntary basis. The Free Press Society’s board and the many volunteers contribute their personal time because the task is of vital importance. Without volunteer work, it would be impossible to do the work that we do. The more members of the Free Press Society, the more people we have that can assist us with necessary tasks.

Therefore: Sign up to become a member of the Press Free Society. Every contribution counts.

The Free Press Society’s – Key Issues

It was George Orwell who said that “If freedom means anything at all, it means the right to tell people that which they do not want to hear.” This means that freedom of expression also implies the right to utter things which may be hurtful and even blasphemous to other people. Hurt feelings are an inevitable byproduct of the individual right of citizens to freely express themselves, and that is a condition we all have to live with.

Therefore, the Press Free Press Society has, since its inception, worked for the repeal of two paragraphs of the Danish Penal Code (Straffeloven):

The so-called “blasphemy paragraph”, §140, that forbids insulting any officially acknowledged religions, and paragraph §266 section B, the so-called “racism paragraph” that forbids saying anything that could be perceived as offensive or degrading because of race, color, nationality or ethnicity, belief or sexual orientation.

If you can punish expressions with reference to certain parts of the population feeling offended, then there is really no limit to the offences for which one can be punished. Emotions are, by definition, subjective, and if you give subjective feelings legal status, we risk ending both in a state of lawlessness and a dramatically amputated freedom of expression.

Of course there is a limit to freedom of speech. The Free Press Society want neither to remove laws against slander, nor does it want to allow intimidation (as in threats or promotions of violence).

To the great relief of the Free Press Society, the “blasphemy paragraph” §140 was repealed in June of 2017.

Background of the Free Press Society

Before the establishment of the Free Press Society, there was no association in Denmark that had as its sole purpose the defense of freedom of expression. With the increasing amount of threats levelled toward authors, artists, politicians and others, since Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 issued a Fatwa towards the English author Salman Rushdie, came also an increasing need for a special society that specifically focused on freedom of expression.

The aim of the Free Press Society is to provide an active defense for freedom of expression in Denmark. The Free Press Society was founded in 2004 by Lars Hedegaard, David Gress, Kai Sørlander, Søren Krarup, Jesper Langballe and Max Stubgaard.

We have adopted the name used by the first Free Press Society that, under the time of the absolute monarchy, fought for freedom of the press. By using the same name, the idea was to emphasize that the struggle of the day for freedom of expression, has again become a reality - even though freedom of expression has been enshrined in the Danish Constitution’s paragraph §77. One thing, however, is to formally have freedom of expression, while it is quite another thing to practically have it. If threats, fear and self-censorship prevent the free expression of thoughts, then paragraph §77 is not worth very much, if anything at all.

Meetings and conferences

Our meetings and conferences are open to all, members as well as non-members. A great number of people who engage in the cultural and social debate here at home and abroad, have both spoken at our meetings and participated in the debates. Amongst these are: Peter Hitchens, Douglas Murray, Ibn Warraq, Daniel Pipes, Samia Labidi, Fay Weldon, Kurt Westergaard, Klaus Wivel, Chahdortt Djavann, Bat Ye'or, Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, Bruce Bawer, Mads Holger, Henryk Broder, Tina Magaard, Flemming Rose, Geert Wilders, Shabana Rehman, Hege Storhaug, Sabatina James, Roy Brown, Naser Khader, Jørgen Bæk Simonsen, Tøger Seidenfaden, Mark Steyn, Asger Aamund and Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen.

The Sappho Award

The Free Press Society’s freedom of expression prize, the “Sappho Award”, is, in March each year, awarded to an uncompromising champion of freedom of expression. Amongst the first recipients of this award was Kurt Westergaard and Flemming Rose. Since then, amongst others to have been awarded the award include the Russian system critic Olga Romanova, Canadian writer Mark Steyn, German Social Democrat Thilo Sarrazin, the Canadian television host Ezra Levant, British author and philosopher Roger Scruton and the Danish attorney Karoly Németh.