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Spring 2021 Symposium: Is Censorship Necessary to Protect Democracy?

The Cardozo International & Comparative Law Review is pleased to host a virtual symposium on Monday, April 5, from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EDT to discuss the issue of rising offensive speech. This symposium will focus on the different approaches in legislating hate speech in the United States and Europe and their consequences. Panelists will address the possible circumstances whereby offensive speech ought to be prohibited. Should governments control or ban speech that “incites religious and ethnic hatred?” And if private entities like Twitter are not subject to First Amendment regulation, what legal obligations (if any) should rest with social media companies regarding censoring private expression that advocates hate or endorses physical violence? 


Please register for our virtual panel here.

Any questions about this event may be directed to Cardozo International & Comparative Law Symposia Editor:


Kate Ruane is a senior legislative counsel with the ACLU, where she focuses her advocacy on free speech, surveillance, and privacy issues. In that role, she leads the ACLU’s work to shape policy at every level to protect the freedom of speech, eliminate unwarranted government surveillance, and increase privacy protections for all people. Kate was previously a legislative attorney with the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for 11 years. CRS is a nonpartisan federal agency that provides in-depth research and analysis on some of the most challenging questions faced by members of Congress and their staff as they consider legislation. In her role at CRS, Kate served as an expert on the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause. She also covered issues involving telecommunications and consumer privacy.

Richard Ashby Wilson is Associate Dean of Research at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and the Gladstein Distinguished Chair of Human Rights and Professor of Law and Anthropology. Wilson is a scholar of human rights and the author or editor of 11 books on international human rights, humanitarianism, truth and reconciliation commissions, and international criminal tribunals. His publications have been translated into Chinese, Danish, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish. His latest book, Incitement On Trial: Prosecuting International Speech Crimes (Cambridge University Press, 2017), explains why international criminal tribunals struggle to convict individuals for inciting speech and it proposes a new model to identify the types of speech and contextual circumstances most likely to lead to violence. Wilson is presently working on a study of the offline effects of online hate speech and the problems inherent in the current content moderation policies of social media companies.

Nadine Strossen Nadine Strossen, the John Marshall Harlan II Professor Emerita at New York Law School and the immediate past President of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), is a leading expert and frequent speaker/media commentator on constitutional law and civil liberties, who has testified before Congress on multiple occasions. She serves on the advisory boards of the ACLU, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Heterodox Academy, National Coalition Against Censorship. Strossen’s 2018 book HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship has earned praise from ideologically diverse experts, including Harvard Professor Cornel West and Princeton Professor Robert George. Washington University selected HATE as its 2019 “Common Read.” Her earlier book, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights, was named a New York Times "notable book” of 1995. 

Clay Calvert is Professor of Law, Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication, and Director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He holds a joint appointment with the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and the College of Journalism and Communications. Calvert teaches both undergraduates and law students, and he coordinates the joint JD/MA program for the College of Journalism and Communications. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 law journal articles on freedom of expression-related topics. Calvert is a co-author, along with Dan Kozlowski and Derigan Silver, of a leading undergraduate media law textbook, Mass Media Law, 21st Edition (McGraw-Hill 2020), and is the author of Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture (Westview Press 2000).

Moderated by Debora Pearlstein, professor of Law and co-director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy at the Cardozo Law School. Prof. Pearlstein's areas of expertise are constitutional law, international human rights, international humanitarian law, international law, national security and terrorism, and U.S. foreign relations law. 

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