During the Talkers New York 2013 conference today, Glenn was the recipient of the Freedom of Speech award. With
Glenn opened the speech talking about the importance of the first amendment, saying that the only speech that needs to be protected is speech that is found offensive. No one is calling for unoffensive speech to be censored, only when someone disagrees. Glenn also welcomed progressive voices onto talk radio, saying that it was important for all sides of debate to be in the the discussion so that all views can be understood.
In typical Glenn fashion, he also used historical artifacts to make his point. He brought out a newspaper cartoon mocking the Prophet Muhammad that ignited outrage overseas. While Glenn didn't agree with the cartoon, he didn't think it should be censored.
"Muhammad is not my prophet, Allah is not my God. But this is wrong. But do they have a right to do it? Yes. Should they be silenced, should we have laws to stop them? No. Should we print those things as individuals? No. We should have respect for each other."
"But should you have the right to do it? Yes. But this society focuses on rights and not responsibilities. We have a responsibility to be better. We have a responsibility to speak out and speak up if we think something is wrong."
He said that everyone has a responsibility in shaping the future, and to do so there needs to be an open and honest debate between people of all viewpoints.
"The world is in dynamic change right now," he explained, "and if you try and hold it - the harder you hold the worse things get."
Glenn emphasized that he is happy to live in a time when he is given the opportunity to be heard on the air.
"I appreciate CNN for putting me on the air. I appreciate the Fox News channel for putting me on the air. I am thrilled to live in a time to be associated with Premiere and Clear Channel."
Glenn ended the talk by acknowledging that he has at times been divisive, and while he doesn't regret the truths that were said he did regret how some of his arguments were made.
“Any role that I have played in dividing, I wish I could take it back — I don’t wish I could take back the truth that was spoken, but [many] times I could’ve said it differently,” he said. “We are now living in a completely new era, and there is profound opportunity and profound light on the horizon ready to dawn, a world that none of us could understand or even design if we tried, because the possibilities are endless. But so are the nightmares.”
"It will require all of us to recognize what time we are living in. To recognize we have a profound responsibility because of the rights that we have. And stand an protect those rights - not of those people we agreed with - but protect the rights of those we vehemently disagree with," he said. "You stand with those people. And that's what will heal our country."