LAW 699

Freedom of Speech: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives

Constitutional & Public Law, Human Rights

Freedom of speech is central to liberal democracy. Yet it has sparked intense and enduring disagreement regarding its rationale, purpose, scope, and application. In that regard, U.S. freedom of speech jurisprudence differs substantially from that of other democratic countries in various respects.
This seminar examines freedom of speech from a variety of theoretical and comparative perspectives. We interrogate the classic arguments and justifications for freedom of speech: the search for truth, personal autonomy, human dignity, and democracy. We ask whether they still hold today. We then examine and compare various applications of freedom of speech jurisprudence in democratic countries, including the types of utterances and conduct that constitute protected speech, speech in the electoral process, hate speech, and knowing falsehoods. We then examine freedom of speech as applied to particular media, including the press, the internet, and social media. We close with an examination of the conflict between private rights and freedom of speech. 

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