Free to State: The Future of the First Amendment
Free speech can take many forms, including social media engagement, comedy, investigative journalism, civil disobedience and more. The First Amendment protections that safeguard freedom of expression are essential for an open and productive society, but political polarization, changing cultural norms and technological innovations have affected how we exercise this fundamental right.
On Tuesday, June 19, The Washington Post brought together journalists, technology experts, scholars and other thought leaders to explore the challenges and opportunities created by robust free speech guarantees in a diverse and modern democracy. Topics included net neutrality, political satire and the state of intellectual freedom in America.
This was the second annual “Free to State” program, part of a series of events The Post is producing in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Opening Remarks
The Washington Post's Executive Editor Marty Baron delivers opening remarks ahead of annual Washington Post Live "Free to State" event on free speech and the First Amendment.
The First Amendment and the Law
From courts to football fields to college campuses, a look at how key players in the free speech debate are shaping First Amendment law across the country.
Acting Associate U.S. Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, American Civil Liberties Union President Susan N. Herman and PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel look at how key players in the free speech debate are shaping First Amendment law across the country.
  • Jun 19
Acting Associate U.S. Attorney General Jesse Panuccio responds to the recent lawsuit against the University of Michigan claiming its anti-harassment code violates First Amendment rights.
Acting Associate U.S. Attorney General Jesse Panuccio addresses the controversy surrounding NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.
The No. 3 official in the U.S. Department of Justice, Acting Associate U.S. Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, answers questions about the department’s defense of President Trump’s immigration policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border.
PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel discusses press freedom in America and the role of truth in society.
Susan N. Herman
President, American Civil Liberties Union
Susan N. Herman was elected President of the American Civil Liberties Union in October 2008, after having served on the ACLU National Board of Directors, as a member of the Executive Committee, and as General Counsel. Herman holds a chair as Centennial Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, where she teaches courses in Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure, and seminars on Law and Literature, and Terrorism and Civil Liberties.
Suzanne Nossel
Chief Executive Officer, PEN America
Suzanne Nossel is Chief Executive Officer at PEN America, an organization that works to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Prior to joining PEN America, she served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. She also served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations.
Jesse Panuccio
Acting Associate Attorney General of the United States, U.S. Department of Justice
Jesse Panuccio is the Acting Associate Attorney General of the United States and also serves as the Department’s Regulatory Reform Officer and chairs the Regulatory Reform Task Force. Prior to joining the Justice Department, Mr. Panuccio held a number of roles in both private practice and public service. In the private sector, he had an active civil litigation and appellate practice and in the public sector, Mr. Panuccio served as the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Moderated by Ruth Marcus
Ruth Marcus is the deputy editorial page editor for The Washington Post.
One-on-One with the Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower
Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica research director turned whistleblower, discusses the potential uses of big data to influence behavior and assesses how online communities are facilitating free expression and thought in the digital age.
Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica research director turned whistleblower, discusses the potential uses of big data to influence behavior and assesses how online communities are facilitating free expression and thought in the digital age.
Whistleblower and former Director of Research for Cambridge Analytica Christopher Wylie responds to whether Cambridge Analytica participated in any voter suppression efforts.
Whistleblower and former Director of Research for Cambridge Analytica Christopher Wylie responds to whether he believes Facebook did something wrong in the Cambridge Analytica scandal that involved data from a third-party app to obtain data of unknowing Facebook users.
Whistleblower and former Director of Research for Cambridge Analytica Christopher Wylie on Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser who helped set up Cambridge Analytica: "Cambridge Analytica became Cambridge Analytica because of Steve Bannon. He even picked the name."
Christopher Wylie
Whistleblower; Former Director of Research, Cambridge Analytica
Christopher Wylie is a social researcher and data scientist. He has served as a senior adviser in both the British and Canadian governments. Wylie is the former Director of Research for Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group, which was a UK-based military contractor specializing in information warfare. In 2018, Wylie worked with the Guardian and New York Times as a whistleblower to expose how social media data was being exploited and turned against ordinary citizens.
Interviewed by Craig Timberg
Craig Timberg is a national technology reporter for The Washington Post, specializing in privacy, security and surveillance.
Let’s Talk About ‘Political Correctness’
Is promoting equality and inclusion at loggerheads with free speech? Speakers will discuss evolving norms of expression and representation in the areas of advocacy, popular culture and digital media.
The co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles Melina Abdullah, comedian and documentarian Hari Kondabolu and podcast host Dylan Marron, discuss whether promoting equality and inclusion is at loggerheads with free speech. They also discuss evolving norms of expression and representation in the areas of advocacy, popular culture and digital media.
Comedian Hari Kondabolu, who created the documentary “The Problem with Apu” to call out "The Simpsons" for its portrayal of the Indian character Apu, discusses why he made the film.
Dylan Marron, host of the podcast, "Conversations With People Who Hate Me," talks about why he engages with people who disagree with him saying: "What I am very interested in is asking why someone thinks a certain way.”
The co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Melina Abdullah, talks about why she would not sit on-stage with someone in law enforcement and why she doesn't feel it's necessary to debate with people who disagree with her.
Melina Abdullah
Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles
Melina Abdullah is Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She is a recognized expert on race, gender, class, and social movements. Abdullah works to fight for Ethnic Studies in the K-12 and university systems and was a part of the historic victory that made Ethnic Studies a requirement in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She was among the original group of organizers that convened to form Black Lives Matter and continues to serve as a Los Angeles chapter lead and contributes to the global leadership.
Hari Kondabolu
(Photo by Mindy Tucker)
(Photo by Mindy Tucker)
Comedian; Documentarian, “The Problem with Apu”
Hari Kondabolu is a Brooklyn-based comedian and writer. Kondabolu has released two chart-topping comedy albums including "Mainstream American Comic" and his debut album "Waiting for 2042." In 2017, he released a documentary film with truTV called “The Problem with Apu” about the stereotypical Indian character on "The Simpsons".
Dylan Marron
(Photo by Luke Fontana)
(Photo by Luke Fontana)
Host, “Conversations With People Who Hate Me”
Dylan Marron is a Webby Award winning digital creator. He is the voice of Carlos on the podcast "Welcome to Night Vale" and the creator of "Every Single Word" (Tumblr's "Most Viral Blog" of 2015), a video series that edits down popular films to only the words spoken by people of color. He currently makes the podcast "Conversations with People Who Hate Me" in which he has extended conversations with some of the folks who said negative things about him on the internet.
Moderated by Sarah Ellison
Sarah Ellison is a media and politics reporter for The Washington Post.
What The End of Net Neutrality Means for Online Speech
Experts debate what effect the repeal of net neutrality rules will have on access to and freedom of expression on the Internet.
Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), President and CEO of USTelecom Jonathan Spalter and Information Technology and Innovation Foundation President Robert Atkinson debate what effect the repeal of net neutrality rules will have on access to and freedom of expression on the Internet.
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael O’Rielly debate the impact of repealing net neutrality rules.
Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael O’Rielly says that even after the repeal of net neutrality rules, the Internet experience for American consumers "is going to be exactly the same.”
Robert Atkinson
President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Dr. Robert D. Atkinson has an extensive background in technology policy. He has conducted ground-breaking research projects on technology and innovation, is a valued adviser to state and national policy makers, and a popular speaker on innovation policy nationally and internationally. Before founding ITIF, Atkinson was Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute and Director of PPI’s Technology & New Economy Project.
Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.)
Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Senator Edward J. Markey served for 37 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and was elected to the Senate in a special election in June 2013. In the House, he served for 20 years as Chair or Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, where he fostered the growth of new information technologies and was the principal author of many of the laws now governing our nation’s telephone, broadcasting, cable television, wireless, and broadband communications systems.
Michael O’Rielly
Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
Michael O’Rielly was nominated for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission by President Barack Obama on August 1, 2013 and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on October 29, 2013. He was sworn into office on November 4, 2013. On January 29, 2015, he was sworn into office for a new term, following his re-nomination by the President and confirmation by the United States Senate.
Jonathan Spalter
President and CEO, United States Telecom Association
Jonathan Spalter is president and CEO of USTelecom, the nation’s premier telecommunications industry trade association, representing broadband service providers, manufacturers and suppliers in the new world of internet-based communications and entertainment. Prior to joining USTelecom, he served as chair of Mobile Future, the national wireless technology association.
Moderated by Brian Fung
Brian Fung is a telecommunications and media reporter for The Washington Post.
It’s No Joke: Comedy and Free Speech
Comedy can be used to explore uncomfortable subjects, provoke outrage, reveal truths and hold leaders accountable. Emmy and Grammy Award-winning comedian Patton Oswalt discusses the evolution of comedy as a form of free speech.
Emmy and Grammy Award-winning comedian Patton Oswalt discusses the evolution of comedy as a form of free speech.
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt comments on how President Donald Trump is affecting the world of stand-up comedy.
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt responds to controversial comments made by comedians including Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee and Michelle Wolf.
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt discusses the role that comedy plays in the current social and political climate saying "our responsibility is to keep saying, ‘I'm here and I'm involved.’”
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt responds to the arrest of the Golden State Killer, a case that Oswalt's late wife, Michelle McNamara, focused on in her book "I’ll Be Gone in the Dark."
Patton Oswalt
Comedian and Actor
A comedian, actor, and writer, Patton Oswalt creates award-winning comedy specials and many memorable film roles and guest appearances on his favorite TV shows (including “Parks and Recreation,” for which he received a TV Critics Choice Award). He currently stars as ‘Principal Durbin’ on the NBC comedy ”A.P. Bio,” produced by Seth Meyers, Mike O’Brien, and Lorne Michaels. Last October, Oswalt released his special “Annihilation” on Netflix to critical acclaim as he addresses his own devastating loss and dealing with the unexplainable.
Interviewed by Elahe Izadi
Elahe Izadi is a pop culture writer for The Washington Post.
About Washington Post Live
Washington Post Live is the newsroom’s live journalism platform. Top-level government and business leaders, emerging voices and newsmakers discuss the most pressing national and global issues of the day.
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