Author Archive

Prof. Jones

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Dear Class,

 

         Our theme for next Tuesday is the First Amendment, and the general issue of free speech. We live in a world of staggering speech freedom, and some of that speech as you well know is abusive, factually wrong, purposefully manipulative, or outright fraudulent. But how can the abuses of free speech be addressed without creating restrictions that undermine the freedom of speech itself? Is it PR? Spin? Fraud? Propaganda? Political advocacy? Hoax?

 

        One of the long held truisms among free speech advocates is that the cure for bad speech is more speech, that the truth will out – eventually. Is this a justified faith in a Web world, in which there is great mistrust, especially of information that does not conform to one’s existing views?

 

       What about manipulated images on the Web? Digitally reworked videos, such as the Obama speech in Cairo that was reassembled to suggest things that he did not say? Is that within the bounds of artistic license? And if not, what about all the things that are now being digitally reshaped in the name of art and commentary? What are the bounds?

 

      And what is the remedy? Where are your own personal First Amendment boundaries? I would ask that you ponder these things and comment on the class blog about how what you see and how you believe that an open, democratic society with a First Amendment should function in the world we live in? And if you find interesting things online, share them.

 

      Also, please read a new paper on the www.shorenesteincenter.org website by Steve Williams of the BBC about radio news in Iran

 

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/presspol/publications/papers/discussion_papers/d54_williams.pdf