210 episodes

So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through the law, philosophy, and stories that define your right to free speech. Hosted by FIRE's Nico Perrino.

New episodes post every other Thursday.

So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast FIRE

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    • 4.7 • 165 Ratings

So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through the law, philosophy, and stories that define your right to free speech. Hosted by FIRE's Nico Perrino.

New episodes post every other Thursday.

    Ep. 206: CJ Hopkins compared modern Germany to Nazi Germany. Now he’s standing trial.

    Ep. 206: CJ Hopkins compared modern Germany to Nazi Germany. Now he’s standing trial.

    J Hopkins is an American playwright, novelist, and political satirist. He moved to Germany in 2004. He publishes a self-titled blog on Substack and is the editor of Consent Factory Publishing. 
    CJ’s most recent book, “The Rise of the New Normal Reich,” draws a parallel between Nazi Germany and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2022, it was banned on Amazon in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. In the months that followed, CJ was charged by German authorities with violating a section of the German penal code that prohibits “disseminating information, the intention of which is to further the aims of a former National-Socialist organization [the Nazis].” He was recently acquitted, but the prosecutor chose to appeal the decision. 
    In the coming months, CJ will stand trial — again — for a crime he claims he didn’t commit and for which he has already been acquitted.
    **We are launching on Substack this week! Nothing will change for our listeners. It’s just another way to support the podcast and FIRE. Premium subscribers will receive a FIRE membership and access to our new monthly “Members Only” Zoom chats, where we will discuss free speech news and happenings at FIRE. Members will also be able to ask Nico and other FIRE staffers questions.**
    0:00 Introduction
    2:58 Who is CJ Hopkins?
    9:35 CJ moves to Germany
    15:02 CJ’s work since 2004
    18:23 Berlin in 2020
    27:18 “The Rise of the New Normal Reich”
    34:01 CJ’s book banned in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands
    37:05 German investigation
    47:26 German sensitivities to Nazism 
    50:17 Why didn’t CJ just pay the fine? 
    54:03 CJ goes to trial
    1:03:29 Double-jeopardy / prosecutorial appeal
    1:08:49 Does CJ have regrets?
    1:12:50 Conclusion
    Show Notes 
    Atlantic profile by Jamie Kirchick 
    “Berlin Diary” by William L. Shirer 
    “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer
    “The Rise of the New Normal Reich” by CJ Hopkins
    Consent Factory 
    “The Verdict” by CJ Hopkins, a Substack article about the conclusion of his first trial
    “The Rise of the New Normal Reich: Consent Factory Essays, Vol. III, banned in Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands!” by CJ Hopkins, a Substack article about his book being banned on Amazon

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Ep. 205: An anarchist’s perspective with Michael Malice

    Ep. 205: An anarchist’s perspective with Michael Malice

    Michael Malice is a self-described “anarchist without adjectives” and is the author of several books, including most recently “The White Pill: A Tale of Good and Evil.” He is also the host of the podcast, “YOUR WELCOME,” and the subject of the biographical comic book, “Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story.”
    Michael joins us today to explain why he hates the term “free speech,” and gives his thoughts on McCarthyism, anarchism, Twitter, and more.  
    0:00 Introduction
    0:46 Who is Michael Malice?
    6:45 What is an anarchist without adjectives?
    7:26 The definition of anarchism/prominent anarchists 
    8:01 How do we have free speech in an anarchist society?
    16:54 The McCarthy Era
    20:38 Students for Justice in Palestine
    24:57 Should we advocate for a culture of free speech?
    30:44 “Hitman” 
    34:01 What is the core right under an anarchist system?
    36:26 Elon, Twitter, and free speech
    44:38 Emma Goldman and McCarthyism
    55:27 Cancel culture  
    1:01:37 From Emma Goldman to Solzhenitsyn
    1:05:31 What is it like to live under an authoritarian regime?
    1:12:23 The war in Ukraine
    1:15:24 Outro
    Show Notes 
    “Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il” by Michael Malice 
    “Hitman: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors” by Rex Feral (pseud.)
    “Khrushchev's Secret Speech” (Encyclopedia Britannica entry)
    “My Disillusionment in Russia” by Emma Goldman
    “Schenck v United States” (1919)
    “The Anarchist Handbook” by Michael Malice
    “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn  
    “The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics” by Michael Malice

    Episode Transcript

    • 1 hr 17 min
    Ep. 204: “Liar in a Crowded Theater” with Jeff Kosseff

    Ep. 204: “Liar in a Crowded Theater” with Jeff Kosseff

    Jeff Kosseff is an associate professor of cybersecurity law in the United States Naval Academy’s Cyber Science Department. He is the author of four books including his most recent, “Liar in a Crowded Theater: Freedom of Speech in a World of Misinformation.” He has also written books about anonymous speech and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
    0:00 Introduction
    2:30 Jeff’s focus on the First Amendment 
    4:27 What is Section 230?
    9:30 “Liar in a Crowded Theater”
    16:27 What does the First Amendment say about lies?
    19:35 What speech isn’t protected? 
    21:27 The Eminem case 
    27:33 The Dominion lawsuit 
    38:44 “The United States of Anonymous”
    46:39 The impact of age verification laws 
    49:43 “The Twenty-Six Words that Created the Internet”
    58:40 What’s next for Jeff? 
    1:01:35 Outro 
    Show Notes 
    Podcast Transcript 
    Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2011)
    FIRE’s guide to Section 230
    Nikki Haley on social media anonymity
    Schenck v. United States (1917)
    “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet” by Jeff Kosseff
    NBC News: “Judge allows lawsuit against Snap from relatives of dead children to move forward”
    “The United States of Anonymous: How the First Amendment Shaped Online Speech” by Jeff Kosseff
    United States v. Alvarez (2012)

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Ep. 203: ‘Undefeated’ with Coach Bill Courtney

    Ep. 203: ‘Undefeated’ with Coach Bill Courtney

    Bill Courtney is an American football coach, entrepreneur, author, and the subject of the academy award winning 2011 documentary “Undefeated,” which tells the story of Courtney leading a high school football team in an economically depressed area of Memphis, Tenn. to the playoffs.

    Courtney is the host of the An Army of Normal Folks podcast, in which he shares stories of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things in and around their communities.” His book “Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love” was released in 2014.

    In this episode, we discuss coaching, the surprise success of “Undefeated,” and how talking across lines of difference can heal a polarized America.
    0:00 Introduction
    2:25 Courtney’s background
    5:41 The influence of coaches
    16:50 How Courtney ended up at Manassas High School
    18:50 Coaching in difficult environments
    24:30 Bridging divides
    30:12 Forgiveness and grace
    35:57 Daryl Davis
    42:45 The “death spiral” of division and polarization
    53:15 What happened to Manassas after Courtney left?
    54:00 How did the filmmakers find Manassas?
    59:21 Was the documentary good for the school and the kids?
    Show Transcript

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Ep. 202: The backpage.com saga

    Ep. 202: The backpage.com saga

    We’re joined today by Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Robert Corn-Revere, and Ronnie London to discuss the history and verdict of the Backpage trial. 
    Backpage.com was an online classified advertising service founded in 2004. As a chief competitor to Craigslist, Backpage allowed users to post ads to categories such as personals, automotive, rentals, jobs and — most notably — adult services. In 2018, the website domain was seized by the FBI and its executives were prosecuted under federal prostitution and money laundering statutes. The trial concluded this year, resulting in the acquittal and convictions of several key executives. 
    Some First Amendment advocates are concerned that the Backpage case represents a “slippery slope” for the prosecution of protected speech and the rights of websites that host user-generated content.
    Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a senior editor at Reason Magazine, where she has written about the Backpage case in detail. 
    Robert Corn-Revere is FIRE’s chief counsel and a frequent guest of the show. Prior to joining FIRE, he represented Backpage in private practice.
    Ronnie London is FIRE’s general counsel and another frequent guest of the show. He also represented Backpage when he was in private practice prior to joining FIRE.
    00:00 Introduction 
    06:55 The origins of Backpage 
    10:40 The significance of classified ads 
    14:52 Are escort ads protected? 
    19:07 Federal memos indicating Backpage fought child sex trafficking
    23:19 Backpage content moderation
    34:44 Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
    42:59 “De-banking” and NRA v. Vullo
    52:24 The verdict 
    1:00:34 Could these convictions be overturned? 
    1:02:49 Outro
    Show notes 
    Backpage.com url
    2018 Backpage indictment
    Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s 2018 Backpage profile
    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
    NRA v. Vullo
    The Travel Act

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Ep. 201: Crisis on Campus - X Space recording

    Ep. 201: Crisis on Campus - X Space recording

    Nico and FIRE President & CEO Greg Lukianoff appeared on an X Space to discuss the fallout from the recent congressional hearing on anti-Semitism involving Harvard President Claudine Gay, MIT President Sally Kornbluth, and former Penn President Liz Magill, who resigned last week following backlash over her testimony.
    0:00- Introduction 
    1:53 - History of FIRE
    5:40 - MIT/Harvard/Penn presidents’ testimony 
    11:35 - How speech codes are abused and conflict over the definition of genocide 
    14:05 - Penn “water buffalo” incident 
    16:20 - Will universities take the wrong lesson from these hearings?
    21:25 - Double standards on campus 
    23:41 - Standards for hostile environment harassment, Title VI
    26:43 - Is there a university that is currently handling the situation well?
    31:19 - Institutional neutrality 
    38:29 - Guidance for donors  
    41:51 - The mission of the university
    47:35 - College admissions and political litmus tests 
    51:20 - Faculty viewpoint diversity 
    57:17 - The path forward 
    Show notes
    Show Transcript
    The Canceling of the American Mind
    Congressional hearing
    FIRE’s College Free Speech Rankings
    Kalven Report
    “Mighty Ira”
    Richard Berthold (“anyone who can blow up the pentagon has my vote”)
    Student arrested for true threats at Cornell
    Skokie case (neo Nazi protest in Illinois) 
    The Eternally Radical Idea (Greg’s Substack)
     Penn “water buffalo” case

    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
165 Ratings

165 Ratings

mdpnjva ,

Great defenders of free speech

Free speech, due process, and academic freedom are vital to American society, and there are always powerful people (right, left, and center) willing to curtail them. The more defenders freedom has, the better, and this podcast is a great one.

canadian walkman ,

Highly recommended

FIRE is the leading pro-speech organization in the US now that the ACLU has wimped out. Each episode feature thoughtful interviews, often with lawyers, pertaining to topics around free speech.

bensofhduebfjeh ,

Amazing show!

This show is a solid gold mine. The guests and stories cover a remarkable range of subjects, some newsy, some obscure, and all engaging.

The host and creator, Nico Perrino, is extremely knowledgeable about both the black-letter First Amendment law and history of free speech. He brings out the best in the show's guests.

Whether you're a First Amendment newbie or experienced practitioner, you'll find fascinating episodes throughout.

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