(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
(Kaz Sasahara for The Washington Post)
Free to State
Free speech in America is under severe scrutiny. It seems every day, words are spoken and retracted, apologies are issued, tweets are deleted – many feel free expression has become imperiled. Debates about the line between First Amendment-protected journalism and theft of classified information rage. At the same time, hate speech is on the rise and its proliferation online has been linked to unspeakable violence. How do we limit the effects of offensive speech without stifling expression? When does threatening speech qualify as a crime? How do we strike a balance between safety and censorship?
As we’ve seen from the recent indictment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as well as growing concerns about how to limit the proliferation of hateful and violent content on social media platforms, 2019 has already produced several, pivotal case studies that concern First Amendment issues.
On June 17, The Washington Post and the Knight Foundation joined forces for the 3rd annual Free to State summit on The First Amendment to discuss subjective interpretations of free speech protections when it comes to artistic expression.
Free Speech Online: One U.S. Senator's Perspective
From trolls to hate speech to disinformation, internet companies have been called upon to set standards for online speech. Tasked with moderating information and, in some cases, removing it in order to ensure safety on and off their platforms, companies have found policing expression and content to be a tricky business. While stemming the flow of violent, offensive content is the priority for many, some lawmakers see a pattern of political bias in censoring conservative voices.
Highlights
When asked whether a video that was doctored to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look as if she was drunk should have been removed from Facebook, Sen. Ted Cruz said, If something is fraudulent, I think that is a valid basis for taking something down. If it is deliberate fraud and is not clearly satire. But, there is a difference between fraud and not liking what’s being said…"
  • Jun 18
Infowars host Alex Jones is known for spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation to his thousands of followers online, an act that recently got him banned on several social networking sites. Sen. Ted Cruz said even though he thinks Jones is ‘nuts,’ his voice shouldn’t be silenced.
  • Jun 18
Sen. Ted Cruz, who said there would be a follow-up Senate Judiciary Committee hearing specifically with Google, believes there’s a good argument for breaking up some big companies. “The power being amassed by a handful of tech media companies...is a level of power unprecedented in our political discourse.
  • Jun 18
When asked whether YouTube should have demonetized comedian and conservative pundit Steven Crowder following his homophobic attack of a Vox reporter, Sen. Cruz said, “Look - Insults are included in free speech and if someone doesn’t like what someone is saying, the response is respond to them and push back.’
  • Jun 18
Full Segment
From trolls to hate speech to disinformation, internet companies have been called upon to set standards for online speech. Tasked with moderating information and, in some cases, removing it in order to ensure safety on and off their platforms, companies have found policing expression and content to be a tricky business. While stemming the flow of violent, offensive content is the priority for many, some lawmakers see a pattern of political bias in censoring conservative voices.
  • Jun 17
Sen. Ted Cruz
(R-Texas)
Ted Cruz represents 28 million Texans in the U.S. Senate as a passionate fighter for limited government and economic growth. He has authored 39 legislative measures signed into law. Recent victories include expanding 529 college savings accounts to allow parents to save for K–12 public, private, and religious education, leading the effort to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, imposing sanctions on terrorists who use civilians as human shields, designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, reauthorizing and reforming NASA, ensuring the availability of additional records to help solve civil rights cold cases, supporting thousands of Texas jobs, and leading the fight to confirm principled constitutionalists to our courts.
Interviewed by Tony Romm
Technology Policy Reporter, The Washington Post
Artistic Expression and The First Amendment
How do you determine what is a threat and what is artistic expression? The First Amendment protects all expression, but there are rare exceptions for libel and incitement -- how do we determine what is protected expression in art that is often subjective in nature? A recent Supreme Court case about explicit rap lyrics provides a unique and rich example.
Highlights
When asked about ‘cancel culture,” referencing Roseanne Barr and Colin Kaepernick, Grammy Award-winning Rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render said he doesn’t believe people should lose their jobs over what they say because of what they say on social media. ‘I’m willing to be uncomfortable because I know tomorrow I may say something.’
  • Jun 18
Simon Tam, author of Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court,’ said artists from black and brown communities are treated differently than White musicians and often don’t get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the messages in their music.
  • Jun 18
Full Segment
How do you determine what is a threat and what is artistic expression? The First Amendment protects all expression, but there are rare exceptions for libel and incitement -- how do we determine what is protected expression in art that is often subjective in nature? A recent Supreme Court case about explicit rap lyrics provides a unique and rich example.
  • Jun 17
Michael "Killer Mike" Render
Rapper, First Amendment advocate
Michael Render, publicly known as Killer Mike, is a husband, father, activist, businessman and GRAMMY Award-winning artist. He is the host of the new Netflix series ‘Trigger Warning with Killer Mike.’ Render is deeply devoted to his community. For the past two years, he’s held back-to-school events offering free haircuts, braids, and school supplies for Atlanta children. His 2018 back-to-school event was held over multiple weekends in July and August and served over 250 children and youth. Outside of his business and philanthropic interests, Render is committed to supporting political candidates who center the needs of ordinary people. His tireless advocacy on behalf of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders during Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid captivated the nation, leading Render to become one of the Senator’s highest-profile and most persuasive supporters. Render later supported Keisha Lance Bottoms’ mayoral bid and served on her transition team once she was elected mayor.
Simon Tam
Author, "Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court"
Simon Tam is an author, musician, activist, and troublemaker. Tam is best known as the founder and bassist of The Slants, the world’s first and only all-Asian American dance rock band. He is the founder of The Slants Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing scholarships and mentorship to artist-activists of color. Tam has been a keynote speaker, performer, and presenter at TEDx, SXSW, Comic-Con, The Department of Defense, Stanford University, and over 1,200 events across four continents. He has set a world record by appearing on the TEDx stage 13 times. His work has been highlighted in over 3,000 media features across 150 countries including The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, NPR, BBC, New York Times, and Rolling Stone.
John Elwood
Partner, Appellate practice, Vinson & Elkins
John Elwood is a partner in Vinson & Elkins LLP’s appellate practice group. He has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, and argued before most federal courts of appeals. In addition, he has long taught the University of Virginia School of Law’s Supreme Court practice clinical program. Before entering private practice, John served during the George W. Bush administration as an Assistant to the Solicitor General, as Counselor to Criminal Division chief Michael Chertoff, and as the senior Deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
Moderated by Wesley Lowery
National Reporter, The Washington Post
The Assange Effect
The recent charge of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange for violating the Espionage Act has reignited the debate over the question: What is the line between First Amendment-protected journalism and the theft and publication of classified information? A group of seasoned journalists and legal experts discuss how investigative journalists navigate this legal and professional minefield and balance related ethical considerations.
Highlights
A panel of experts explain the difference between Julian Assange’s actions and what journalists do everyday, and why some of the charges he is facing are concerning.
  • Jun 18
Full Segment
The recent charge of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange for violating the Espionage Act has reignited the debate over the question: What is the line between First Amendment-protected journalism and the theft and publication of classified information? A group of seasoned journalists and legal experts discuss how investigative journalists navigate this legal and professional minefield and balance related ethical considerations.
  • Jun 17
Sanford J. Ungar
Director of Free Speech Project, Georgetown University
Sanford J. Ungar, president emeritus of Goucher College, is director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University. He has been director of the Voice of America and dean of the School of Communication at American University. During his journalism career, he was a staff writer for The Washington Post, Washington editor of The Atlantic, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, and co-host of “All Things Considered” on NPR. He is the author or editor of six nonfiction books, including The Papers & The Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle over the Pentagon Papers. Ungar earned an AB in Government magna cum laude from Harvard College and a Master’s degree in International History from the London School of Economics.
David Fallis
Deputy Investigations Editor, The Washington Post
Moderated by Sarah Ellison
The Washington Post
Opening Remarks from the Knight Foundation
Sam Gill with the Knight Foundation gives opening remarks at The Washington Post Live’s 3rd annual Free to State summit.
  • Jun 18
Full Program
Free speech in America is under severe scrutiny. It seems every day, words are spoken and retracted, apologies are issued, tweets are deleted – many feel free expression has become imperiled. On June 17, The Washington Post and the Knight Foundation joined forces for the 3rd annual Free to State summit on The First Amendment.
  • Jun 24
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.