224 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 • 168 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. 220: Political violence and speech

    Ep. 220: Political violence and speech

    Did overheated political rhetoric lead to the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump?

    On today’s show we explore political violence: its history, its causes, and its relationship with free speech.

    Flemming Rose is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He previously served as foreign affairs editor and culture editor at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. In 2005, he was principally responsible for publishing the cartoons that initiated the Muhammad cartoons controversy.
     
    Nadine Strossen is a professor emerita at New York Law School, former president of the ACLU, and a senior fellow at FIRE.
     
    Jacob Mchangama is the founder and executive director of The Future of Free Speech. He is a research professor at Vanderbilt University and a senior fellow at FIRE.
     
    Timestamps
     
    0:00 Intro
    2:45 Initial reactions to Trump assassination attempt
    7:39 Can we blame political violence on rhetoric?
    15:56 Weimar and Nazi Germany
    26:05 Is the Constitution a “suicide pact”?
    39:21 Is violence ever justified?
    49:24 Censorship in the wake of tragedy and true threats
    59:06 Closing thoughts
    1:04:54 Outro
     
    Show notes:
    Episode transcript
    “Freedom of expression and social conflict” by Christian Bjørnskov and Jacob Mchangama
    FIRE’s 2024 College Free Speech Rankings (featuring data on college student support for violence)
    Recent court ruling in DeRay McKesson protest case
    “The Tyranny of Silence” by Flemming Rose
    “Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media” by Jacob Mchangama
     

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Ep. 219: The First Amendment at the Supreme Court

    Ep. 219: The First Amendment at the Supreme Court

    The Supreme Court term is over. We review its First Amendment cases.

    Joining the show are FIRE Chief Counsel Bob Corn-Revere, FIRE General Counsel Ronnie London, and Institute for Justice Deputy Litigation Director Robert McNamara.
     
    Become a FIRE Member today and gain access to live monthly webinars where you can ask questions of FIRE staff. The next webinar is July 8 at 1 p.m. ET. We will take your questions about the Supreme Court term.
    Show Notes:
    Transcript
    Timestamps
    0:00 Intro
    2:53 Moody v. NetChoice and NetChoice v. Paxton

    31:02 NRA v. Vullo
    46:57 Murthy v. Missouri
    1:06:04 Gonzales v. Trevino
    1:17:58 Vidal v. Elster
    1:26:04 O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier and Lindke v. Freed
    1:34:00 Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo (the Chevron deference case)
    1:37:26 Free Speech Coalition v. Paxton (forthcoming SCOTUS case)
    1:38:30 Outro
     

    • 1 hr 39 min
    Ep. 218: A warning label on social media?

    Ep. 218: A warning label on social media?

    There is a movement afoot to restrict young people’s access to social media and pornography.
    Critics of social media and online porn argue that they can be harmful to minors, and states across the country are taking up the cause, considering laws that would impose age-verification, curfews, parental opt-ins, and other restrictions.
    Meanwhile, critics of the critics argue that the evidence of harm isn’t so conclusive and that many of the proposed restrictions violate core civil liberties such as privacy and free speech.
    So, who’s right?
    Clare Morell is a senior policy analyst at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the author of the forthcoming book, “The Tech Exit: A Manifesto for Freeing Our Kids.”

    Ari Cohn is free speech counsel at TechFreedom, a technology think tank.
     
    Timestamps
    0:00 Intro
    2:17 The alleged harms of social media
    11:31 Just another technological moral panic?
    25:49 How is internet access currently restricted for minors?
    41:17 The age verification problem
    1:00:27 Assessing the First Amendment problems
    1:07:21 Voluntary measures parents can take
    1:25:30 Outro
    Shownotes
    Transcript
    “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness” by Jonathan Haidt
    “Surgeon General: Why I’m Calling for a Warning Label on Social Media Platforms” by Vivek H. Murthy
     

    • 1 hr 26 min
    Ep. 217: ‘Defending pornography’

    Ep. 217: ‘Defending pornography’

    It is said that censorship is the strongest drive in human nature — with sex being a weak second.
    But what happens when these two primordial drives clash? Does censorship or sex win out?
    Nadine Strossen is a professor emerita at New York Law School, a former president of the ACLU, and a senior fellow at FIRE. She is also the author of “Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights.” First released in 1995, the book was reissued this year with a new preface.
    Mary Anne Franks is a law professor at George Washington University and the president and legislative and tech policy director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. She is the author of “The Cult of the Constitution: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech” and the forthcoming “Fearless Speech: Breaking Free from the First Amendment.”
    Show Notes:
    Transcript
    Timestamps
    0:00 Intro
    2:17 Defining pornography
    7:20 Is porn protected by the First Amendment?
    11:10 Revenge porn
    22:05 Origins of “Defending Pornography”
    25:06 Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon
    29:20 Can porn be consensual?
    35:02 Dworkin/MacKinnon model legislation
    52:20 Porn in Canada
    56:07 Is it possible to ban porn?
    1:03:26 College professor’s porn hobby
    1:12:39 Outro

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Ep. 216: Section 230 and online content moderation

    Ep. 216: Section 230 and online content moderation

    Did 26 words from an American law passed in 1996 create the internet?
    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act says that interactive websites and applications cannot be held legally liable for the content posted on their sites by their users.

    Without the law, it’s likely Facebook, Amazon, Reddit, Yelp, and X wouldn’t exist — at least not in their current form.

    But some say the law shields large tech companies from liability for enabling, or even amplifying, harmful content.
    On today’s show, we discuss Section 230, recent efforts to reform it, and new proposals for content moderation on the internet.
    Marshall Van Alstyne is a professor of information systems at Boston University.
    Robert Corn-Revere is FIRE’s chief counsel.


    Timestamps
    0:00 Intro
    3:52 The origins of Section 230?
    6:40 Section 230’s “forgotten provision”
    13:29 User vs. platform control over moderation
    23:24 Harms allegedly enabled by Section 230
    40:17 Solutions
    46:03 Private market for moderation
    1:02:42 Case study: Hunter Biden laptop story
    1:09:19 “Duty of care” standard
    1:17:49 The future of Section 230
    1:20:35 Outro
    Show Notes
    - Show Transcript
    - Hearing on a Legislative Proposal to Sunset Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (May 22. 2024)
    - “Platform Revolution” by Marshall Van Alstyne
    - “The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder” by Robert Corn-Revere
    - “Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech” by Mike Masnick
    - “Sunset of Section 230 Would Force Big Tech’s Hand” By Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Frank Pallone Jr.
    - “Buy This Legislation or We’ll Kill the Internet” By Christopher Cox and Ron Wyden
    - “Free Speech, Platforms & The Fake News Problem” (2021) by Marshall Van Alstyne
    - “Free Speech and the Fake News Problem” (2023) by Marshall Van Alstyne
    - “It’s Time to Update Section 230” by Michael D. Smith and Marshall Van Alstyne
    “Now It's Harvard Business Review Getting Section 230 Very, Very Wrong” by Mike Masnick
     

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Ep. 215: ‘Private Censorship’ with J.P. Messina

    Ep. 215: ‘Private Censorship’ with J.P. Messina

    The First Amendment forbids government censorship. Private institutions, on the other hand, are generally free to restrict speech.
    How should we think about private censorship and its role within a liberal society?
    On today’s episode, we’re joined by J.P. Messina, an assistant professor in the philosophy department at Purdue University and the author of the new book, “Private Censorship.”
    Also on the show is Aaron Terr, FIRE’s director of public advocacy.
    Timestamps
    0:00 Introduction
    3:10 The origin story of “Private Censorship”
    8:29 How does FIRE figure out what to weigh in on? 
    12:04 Examples of private censorship 
    18:24 Regulating speech at work 
    22:21 Regulating speech on social media platforms
    30:09 Is social media essentially a public utility?
    35:50 Are internet service providers essentially public utilities? 
    44:43 Social media vs. ISPs 
    51:02 Censorship on search engines 
    59:47 Defining illiberalism outside of government censorship
    1:16:06 Outro
     
    Show Notes
    Episode transcript
    Packingham v. North Carolina (2017)
    Cloudflare’s announcement regarding the Daily Stormer
     

    • 1 hr 17 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
168 Ratings

168 Ratings

dennis.karpf ,

Dennis D. Karpf

Incisive and absence of cant. Free speech can not override free association, free religion, and free conscience and free movement. No doubt words/thought balance is sometimes gray. Law can prevent antisemitic action/behavior. However those circumstance in reality are rare. Speech codes are not the answer. Balance is needed between competing interests that does prevent threats to Jews. Threats and harassment are not speech. However make no mistake Islamist ideology and its red/green allies seek only short term distortion of free speech to suppress behavior and suppress Jewish freedom of association, religion and conscience. The antisemitic action and incitement to violence with ultimate extermination of Jews is the goal.

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.

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