Thursday, April 5, 2018
We live in an era in which offensive speech is on the rise. Given its potential for harm, should this speech be banned? Nadine Strossen, professor of law at NYU School of Law and former president of the ACLU, dispels the many misunderstandings that have clouded the perpetual debates about "hate speech vs. free speech." She argues that an expansive approach to the First Amendment is most effective at promoting democracy, equality, and societal harmony and that anti-hate speech laws are not effective in reducing the feared harms, and worse yet, are likely counterproductive by giving enforcement officials the power to suppress vital expression and target minority viewpoints. The solution, maintains Strossen, instead is to promote equality and societal harmony through vibrant "counterspeech."
Nadine Strossen is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School. She has written, taught, and advocated extensively in the areas of constitutional law and civil liberties, including through frequent media interviews. From 1991 through 2008, she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Strossen is currently a member of the ACLU’s National Advisory Council, as well as the advisory boards of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), and Heterodox Academy. When she stepped down as ACLU President in 2008, three Supreme Court Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and David Souter) participated in her farewell and tribute luncheon.
Strossen is also a prolific author. Her latest book, HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship, will be published in 2018. Her first two books are Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women’s Rights and Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In addition, Strossen has written dozens of articles and book chapters.
Strossen is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Professor Strossen's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Rose Institute for State and Local Government.