Nadine Strossen's new book, HATE, dispels misunderstandings plaguing our perennial debates about "hate speech vs. free speech," showing that the First Amendment approach promotes free speech and democracy, equality, and societal harmony.
U.S. law allows government to punish hateful or discriminatory speech in specific contexts when it directly causes imminent serious harm, but government may not punish such speech solely because its message is disfavored, disturbing, or vaguely feared to possibly contribute to some future harm. When U.S. officials formerly wielded such broad censorship power, they suppressed dissident speech, including equal rights advocacy. Likewise, current politicians have attacked Black Lives Matter protests as "hate speech."
"Hate speech" censorship proponents stress the potential harms such speech might further: discrimination, violence, and psychic injuries. However, there has been little analysis of whether censorship effectively counters the feared injuries. Citing evidence from many countries, Strossen shows that "hate speech" laws are at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. Their inevitably vague terms invest enforcing officials with broad discretion; predictably, regular targets are minority views and speakers.
Therefore, prominent social justice advocates in the U.S. and beyond maintain that the best way to resist hate and promote equality is not censorship, but rather, vigorous "counterspeech" and activism.
Nadine Strossen is professor of constitutional law at New York Law School and the first woman national President of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she served from 1991 through 2008. A frequent speaker on constitutional and civil liberties issues, her media appearances include 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, Today, Good Morning America, and The Daily Show.
Strossen will be in conversation with Danielle Citron & Dwight Ellis.
Danielle Keats Citron is the Morton & Sophia Macht Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law where she teaches and writes about information privacy, free expression, and civil rights. Professor Citron is an internationally recognized information privacy expert and the author of the book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace (Harvard University Press) and more than 25 law review articles. Professor Citron is an Affiliate Scholar at the Stanford Center on Internet and Society, Affiliate Fellow at the Yale Information Society Project, and Senior Fellow at the Future of Privacy, a privacy think tank. Professor Citron has advised federal and state legislators, law enforcement, and international lawmakers on privacy and free speech issues. Professor Citron works closely with tech companies on issues involving online safety and privacy. She serves on Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council and has presented her research at Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. In addition, Professor Citron is the Chair the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Board of Directors. She is a member of the American Law Institute and serves as an adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement Third Information Privacy Principles Project.
An experienced media professional in advancing social equity initiatives and strategies in the realms of government, business and education, Dwight Ellis is in his 11th year as full-time Lecturer in the Communications department of Bowie State University in Maryland and occasional consultant to the U.S. Department of State. Prior to his 25 years as vice president with the National Association of Broadcasters, he served as staff chief to Congresswoman Cardiss Collins (D-IL). A graduate of George Mason University Law School, Ellis’s professional record includes many affiliations, accomplishments, publications and recognitions.
Writers LIVE programs are supported in part by The Miss Howard Hubbard Adult Programming Fund.
Recorded On: Tuesday, May 8, 2018