Free Speech Project Conversations

“The Slap” – A Free Speech Perspective

A cruel joke by one entertainer, a foolish and violent act by another? A celebration ruined? Or an awkward and ugly symbol of our polarized times? However one interprets “the slap,” attendees of the 2022 Academy Awards and viewers around the world were stunned and confused when actor Will Smith assaulted comedian Chris Rock for a remark aimed at Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett. Politically and culturally, what are the Free Speech implications of this incident that caught the attention of tens of millions of people around the world? Were real or imagined lines crossed, and what lessons are to be taken from it?

Panelists include Randall Kennedy, professor at Harvard Law School and author of Race, Crime, and the Law; Nadine Strossen, former national president of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor at New York Law School; and Eisa Nefertari Ulen, journalist, professor of Black diaspora literature at Hunter College and fiction writing at Baruch College.

Recorded April 7, 2022.

Does Our “Knowledge” These Days Rely on Facts, Rumors, or Bogus Theories?

From climate change to a global pandemic and even a presidential election, a tradition of national trust in expertise and authority has been pushed aside in the United States, in favor of random personal opinions, rumors, and even conspiracy theories perpetuated on social media. But if an educated populace is essential for democracy to function effectively, how might we address the surging confusion and cynicism among the general public? How can we mitigate the problem of false equivalencies that have invaded dialogues on scientific, technical, political, and social issues? What is the impact on Free Speech as we know and practice it?

Panelists include David Dunning, a social psychologist who studies human misbelief and disbelief; Fathali Moghaddam, a political psychologist who examines the cognitive processes underlying democracy and dictatorship; Danielle K. Brown, a scholar of political communication who investigates the intersection of news media, underserved and historically excluded communities, and social justice efforts; and Briony Swire-Thompson, a senior research scientist who investigates what drives belief in inaccurate information.

Recorded on February 28, 2022.

The Future of Fox News

Fox News: To its cult-like following, it is the only place to get reliable information about American politics, popular culture, and world affairs. To its detractors, it has long since suspended practicing journalism and become a pure propaganda vehicle for the Republican Party and especially Donald Trump.

What role was Fox originally intended to play? How did that change? What is the secret of its ratings success, and do its leaders feel any embarrassment over being regarded as an increasingly partisan enterprise? Do some of its stars and their popular programs actually aggravate the problem of political and social polarization in the United States?

Panelists include the original president of Fox News, media analysts for National Public Radio and The Washington Post, and a longtime Washington columnist for The Chicago Tribune.

Recorded November 18, 2021

Speaking Freely with Scott Martin

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project, interviews State Senator Scott Martin, who represents the 13th District of Pennsylvania (Lancaster County). They discuss Scott’s proposed bill that would hold protesters who are convicted of certain crimes financially responsible for the costs associated with their protest.

Recorded on May 14, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Emma Llansó

Sanford Ungar discusses the Free Speech rights of internet users and the moderation of online content with Emma Llansó, director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Recorded on April 23, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Eugene Scott

Sanford Ungar discusses the crossroads of identity politics and Free Speech with Eugene Scott, Political Reporter for The Washington Post.

Recorded on April 20, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Aaron Hanlon

Sanford Ungar discusses the complexities and controversies surrounding the invitation of speakers to college campuses with Aaron Hanlon, assistant professor of English at Colby College.

Recorded on April 20, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Zach Wood

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses the invitation of inflammatory speakers to college campuses with Zach Wood from “Uncomfortable Learning” at Williams College.

Recorded on March 26, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Cindy Cohn

Sanford Unger, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses issues of Free Speech and privacy in the internet age, with Cindy Cohn of the Electric Frontier Foundation.

Recorded on February 22, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Marc Howard and Vince Greco

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses the free speech rights of the 2.3 million incarcerated Americans, with Marc Howard, professor of government and law at Georgetown, and prisoner rights advocate Vince Greco.

Recorded on February 22, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Bradley Shear

Sanford Ungar discusses digital privacy for young people with attorney Brad Shear, founder of Digital Armour.

Recorded on January 24, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Ronald Krotoszynski

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses Free Speech from a cross-cultural prospective with Ronald Krotoszynski, professor of law at the University of Alabama.

Recorded on January 19, 2018.

Speaking Freely with Phil Roe

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses Free Speech on college campuses with Congressman Phil Roe of Tennessee.

Recorded on December 6, 2017.

Speaking Freely with David Sanger

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses First Amendment issues surrounding the news coverage of national security with David Sanger from The New York Times.

Recorded on December 4, 2017.

Speaking Freely with Anita Levy

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project, discusses free speech issues on college and university campuses with Anita Levy of the American Association of University Professors.

Recorded on December 4, 2017.

Speaking Freely with Katherine Culliton-González:

Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project, discusses the conflict between Free Speech and other democratic values with Katherine Culliton-González from Demos, a public policy organization working toward equality in America.

Recorded on November 16, 2017.

Speaking Freely with Andrew Sullivan

Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses the Free Speech crisis in America with Andrew Sullivan from New York Magazine.

Recorded on November 10, 2017.

Speaking Freely with Adam Liptak

Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on First Amendment issues with Adam Liptak from The New York Times.

Recorded on November 10, 2017.

Speaking Freely with Catherine Ross

Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses the First Amendment rights of elementary, middle and high school students with Catherine J. Ross, professor at George Washington University School of Law.

Recorded on October 11, 2017.

Speaking Freely with Arthur Spitzer

Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses a First Amendment dispute between the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the American Civil Liberties Union with Art Spitzer, the legal director of the ACLU for the District of Columbia.

Recorded on October 11, 2017.

Speaking Freely with Joe Cohn:

Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, discusses campus speech issues and state legislation with Joe Cohn from FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Recorded on October 2, 2017.