2020-2021                  Andrea Mitchell Center Faculty Workshop Series                  2020-2021

Free speech has re-emerged in recent years as a significant political rallying cry, as political polarization and shifting cultural sensitivities have worked  to intensify the struggles in many democratic countries over the boundaries of acceptable speech.  These struggles are far from new, but in the contemporary context emerging media platforms have presented new challenges to the regulation and protection of open expression. In this environment, businesses and civil-society organizations throughout the world contend with issues of political speech and related boycotts, while in the U.S., social and legal developments require us to rethink our interpretations and implementation of the First Amendment. In its 2020-2021 theme year, FREE SPEECH BATTLES, The Andrea Mitchell Center examines both the contentious history of free expression and the ongoing developments that have made it once again a central issue in democratic societies.

UPCOMING EVENTS

THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT

Thu. February 18, 5:00-6:30 pm / Historian FARA DABHOIWALA (Princeton University) uncovers the origins of political free speech in 18th century London to shed light on our current predicament.  REGISTER HERE 

 

THE MISINFORMATION REVOLUTION (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)

Thu. March 18, 5:00-6:30 pm / Political scientist RAHUL SAGAR (New York University) argues that liberal societies will have to regulate the "marketplace of ideas" to counter misinformation. Note: This event is reserved for the University of Pennsylvania community. Please register with your valid Penn email address.  REGISTER HERE 

 

SILENCE IS VIOLENCE, AND SO IS SPEECH: LANGUAGE AND POWER SINCE THE REAGAN YEARS

Thu. April 1, 5:00-6:30 pm / Political theorist MATT SHAFER (Mitchell Center Postdoctoral Fellow) examines debates over the seemingly contradictory idea that speech and silence can both be "violence."  REGISTER HERE 

 

PRESIDENTIAL LIES, THE FIRST AMENDMENT, AND DEMOCRACY

Thu. April 15, 5:00-6:30 pm / Constitutional law expert CATHERINE J. ROSS (George Washington University Law School) argues that U.S. presidents can and should be held to a higher standard of truth than other citizens.  REGISTER HERE 

PODCAST

On the latest episode of the Mitchell Center Podcast, former white nationalist DEREK BLACK describes what compelled him to renounce the hateful ideology of his family; while in a past episode, former ACLU president NADINE STROSSEN makes the case against censoring hate speech. Listen to all episodes at mitchellcenter.libsyn.com.

ESSAYS

Genevieve Lakier University of Chicago Law School

Boycotts, the BDS Movement,
and the First Amendment

Mark Thompson Former CEO, New York Times

Keep Calm and Carry On

Joan Wallach Scott Institute for Advanced Study

The Right Has Weaponized
Free Speech

Geoffrey R. Stone University of Chicago

Final Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression

VIDEOS

Jaime Settle

Derek Black

Mark Thompson

ABOUT FREE SPEECH BATTLES

FREE SPEECH BATTLES is a year-long program of events organized at the Andrea Mitchell Center by the FREE SPEECH BATTLES Planning Committee: Sigal Ben Porath, Chair (GSE); Joe Lowry (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations); Sophia Rosenfeld (History); Amy Sepinwall (Wharton); Tukufu Zuberi (Sociology); Jeffrey Green, Mitchell Center Director (Political Science); and Matthew Roth, Mitchell Center Assistant Director.

​​THE ANDREA MITCHELL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF DEMOCRACY at the University of Pennyslvania aims not just to promote, but to understand, democracy. Global in its outlook, multifaceted in its purposes, the Mitchell Center seeks to contribute to the ongoing quest for democratic values, ideas, and institutions throughout the world. In addition to hosting speakers from the fields of academia, journalism, politics, and public policy, the Mitchell Center supports undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral research.  It continues the legacy of the Penn Program for Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism, which fostered interdisciplinary scholarship from 2007 to 2017.

Sigal Ben-Porath

“HURT SENTIMENTS" AND FORBIDDEN SPEECH IN INDIA / NEETI NAIR University of Virginia

Thu. January 21, 5:00-6:30 pm / Zoom links emailed to attendees

RECENT COMMENTARY ON INDIA has referred to the country becoming a “republic of hurt sentiments.” In this live recording of the Mitchell Center Podcast, historian NEETI NAIR will gauge the state of free speech and secularism in India by analyzing the reasons behind the censorship (and rampant/limited circulation) of two texts. One is the assassin Nathuram Godse’s defense statement in the Gandhi murder case of 1948; and the other is four lines on the Ramayana epic, dating back over two millennia, that caught the unwanted attentions of a Hindu vigilante political party in 1993, then on the fringes of Indian politics. Her conversation with host MATTHEW BERKMAN will touch on other issues of free expression as well and will be followed by Q&A from the webinar audience. Read Prof. Nair's essay and other materials here.

Co-sponsored by Penn's South Asia Center.

FREE SPEECH BATTLES Co-sponsors:
Penn Graduate School of Education, Annenberg School for Communication, Annenberg Public Policy Institute, Center for Media@Risk,
SNF Paideia Program
, and The Jack Miller Center