Human Rights and the Boundaries of Speech: Whistleblowing, Leaks, Threats, Violent Videos, and Hate Speech

November 28, 2012, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Greenberg Lounge, Vanderbilt Hall
40 Washington Square South
New York

Numerous recent controversies have reinvigorated debates about the limits of the right to free speech, from subway ads depicting Muslims as “savages”, to unparalleled prosecutions of whistleblowers by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act, to Israeli and Hamas’ recent statements and videos about military attacks shared on social media.  Advocates, scholars, policy-makers, and the public are grappling anew with the legal and normative boundaries of speech. Free speech is a basic human right and its protection is vital in democratic societies.  Yet its limits and justifications diverge in different spheres.   National security, for instance, is offered as an explanation for the special treatment of government whistleblowing, but this rationale is challenged by the ways in which hate speech can also be a threat to security, as seen in the wake of the “Innocence of Muslims” video.  What boundaries of speech in all spheres serve to best protect human rights and promote the public interest?

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice welcomes Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of the New York Times, to moderate a panel featuring:

  • Colonel Morris Davis, Howard University School of Law, former Chief Prosecutor for Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay
  • Prof. Karen Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security, Fordham Law
  • Prof. Richard Moberly, University of Nebraska College of Law, author of “Whistleblowers and the Obama Presidency”
  • Ben Wizner, Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project