Middlebury College: Hate Speech, Free Speech, and Censorship

Middlebury College, Forest Hall

Alexander Hamilton Forum: “HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship”


On January 28, 2020, the Alexander Hamilton Forum, a newly inducted JMC partner program, will host Nadine Strossen to speak on the tensions between censorship and freedom of speech when regarding hate speech. Her talk will draw on her recent book, HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship, published in 2018 by Oxford University Press.

Professor Strossen seeks to dispel 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. “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 argues shows that “hate speech” are at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. The best way to resist hate and promote equality is not censorship, but rather vigorous “counterspeech” and activism.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 4:30 PM
Middlebury College

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Nadine StrossenNadine Strossen is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of 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, The Daily Show, and other news programs on CNN, C-SPAN, Fox, Al-Jazeera, and in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Her op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and USA Today, among others.

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The Alexander Hamilton Forum at Middlebury College aims to foster thoughtful engagement with the ideas that have informed the creation and development of the American polity. The Forum promotes the study of the American political thought and founding principles; their relationship to American institutions, statesmanship, public law, political economy, and grand strategy; and their place in the history of western political philosophy. It seeks to offer students an opportunity to think critically about the relevance of political and constitutional theory to a range of contemporary debates in American public life.

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