Debates: Free Speech Debate

25 Jan 2017

The case: Teaching creationism in US schools

On April 11 2012, Tennessee passed a law that will protect teachers who choose to explore the merits of creationism alongside theories of evolution in public school science classes. Governor Bill Haslam claimed that the legislation would not...

15 Feb 2016

The case: Can Christians wear the cross at work?

Two Christian women, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights after being barred by employers from wearing the cross at work. Since both discrimination cases were ...

12 Oct 2015

John Atta Mills the President of Ghana died suddenly on the 24th July 2012. Or at least it appeared sudden to Ghanaians at the time. In fact he had been suffering from throat cancer for some time but his administration had not been open about his health. Serious questions had already...

22 Sep 2015

The discussion: Has Innocence of Muslims ended the innocence of YouTube?

The fact that Google, which owns YouTube, has voluntarily blocked the Islamophobic ...

26 Aug 2015

It is an old well-worn phrase when it comes to the state and surveillance that if you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide then there is nothing to worry about. Britain’s Foreign Secretary trotted this idea out shortly after the PRISM scandal broke saying “if you are a...

8 Jul 2015

The case: The preacher against homosexuality

In October 2001, an Evangelical Christian preacher called Harry Hammond started preaching in a square in Bournemouth, England. He held up a placard saying, “Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism.” The words “Jesus is Lord” were...

10 May 2015

The case: Is pro-terrorist speech a crime? Massachusetts says so

Tarek Mehanna is a 29-year-old American citizen and pharmacologist who was raised in Sudbury, a quiet suburb of Boston, Massachusetts in the US. Trouble began for Mehanna in 2004, when he travelled to Yemen. Mehanna insists...

26 Aug 2014

The case: Punishing users of extremist websites

On 15th March 2012, Mohammed Merah killed two soldiers of the French army and left a third in a coma. A few days later, on 19th March, Merah attacked a Jewish school in Toulouse shooting at point blank range a teacher and three children. It...

28 Feb 2014

The past two decades have seen rapid and overwhelming progress in Rwanda, a country that was hit by the worst post cold war atrocity in 1994 when up to a million people perished in genocide. The 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi destroyed the country leaving no standing government...

17 Feb 2014

The case study: Censoring hip-hop music in London

“Guns, bitches and bling were never part of the four elements of hip hop and never will be.” Scroobius Pip, ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill

Recurrent themes in discussions on popular culture are the origins and impact of...

12 Feb 2014

What is internet governance?

There’s a narrow definition and a broad definition.[1] The narrow definition solely sees the Internet as a technical thing that needs to be programmed and managed: who gets to set domain names, et...

30 Jan 2014

The case: The Japanese New History Textbook controversy

A textbook entitled New History Textbook (Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho) was published by a committee consisting of conservative scholars in 2000, and was approved as a social science textbook for junior high schools by the ministry of...

6 Jan 2014

The Case: Pussy Riot, Putin's Russia and the Orthodox Church

Was punk band Pussy Riot’s anti-Putin performance in a Moscow church 'religious hatred hooliganism' or an artistic form of political dissent? Olga Shvarova considers the case.

On 21 February 2012, the all-...

17 Dec 2013

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission[1] held that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of speech, prohibited the government from putting restrictions on independent...

16 Dec 2013

Repressive governments, here defined as governments that are anti-democratic, that do not afford general civil rights to their citizens, and that do not have a robust respect for the rule of law, have sought to quell dissent and the voices of reform by many means. Through a sophisticated...

10 Dec 2013

The sophistication of modern surveillance technology has increased by leaps and bounds in the 21st century. Governments have unprecedented power to watch their citizens, to see almost every aspect of their private and public lives. By use of CCTV, internet censorship and infiltration...

6 Dec 2013

The right to be forgotten is a right to have one's digital footprint erased from the internet. This                consists of erasing information about oneself and about one's activity from the internet,...

30 Aug 2013

The case: Netherlands passed Europe's first net neutrality legislation

On 8 May 2012 the senate of the Netherlands approved amendments to its Telecommunications Act (unofficial translation ...

29 Aug 2013

The case: Blasphemy law and violence in Pakistan

In June 2009, Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother-of-five from a village in the Sheikhupura district in Pakistan, got into an argument with fellow villagers who accused her of polluting the water in a well by touching it as a non-...

29 Aug 2013

This debate will in large part be focused in the UK. At the time of writing, press freedom in the United Kingdom has become a significant issue as a result of the phone tapping scandal and the subsequent...

14 Aug 2013

Government transparency, the idea that government should be open about what it is doing with its citizens, has been around since the enlightenment when parliaments began to be more powerful than kings. We usually consider that governmental transparency is a part of good governance in a democracy...

8 Apr 2013

Reverence and veneration of the national flag has long been profound in the United States, possibly more so than in many other countries. This reverence has led many state legislatures as well as the federal Congress to pass legislation banning the burning of the flag. Such legislation generally...

15 Feb 2013

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is a multinational media corporation with interests in books, cable and satellite television, films, magazines, newspapers and websites. It is influential around the world and in its portfolio News Corporation includes very influential channels and...

7 Jan 2013

Why the Arab world needs community radio

Social media and satellite television played a crucial role in the Arab uprisings, but Daoud Kuttab argues community radio must be embraced to effect...

7 Jan 2013

The case: (Not) reporting homosexuality in the Middle East

Homosexuality is a taboo subject mainstream Arabic news outlets regularly avoid. If reported at all, stories typically address homosexuality as a foreign phenomenon or loathsome disease unique to the west. Journalist Brian...

3 Jan 2013

History reclassified as state secret: the case of Xu Zerong

In 2002, historian Xu Zerong was sentenced to 13 years in jail for leaking state secrets. The classification of the ...

21 Dec 2012

Does money have the right to speak?

The US supreme court's decision on Citizens United raises a vital issue: should corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals? Brian Pellot discusses the case.

The case

Citizens United v Federal...

11 Dec 2012

Religion is largely ignored from foreign policy and from literature about how foreign policy should be determined. Religious freedom is likewise for the most part ignored and sidelined. Most countries where religion is a factor in foreign policy are promoting a particular religion rather than...

7 Dec 2012

A university of less-than-liberal arts?

Should Yale University refuse to operate in Singapore where human rights and free expression face significant restrictions? Katie Engelhart weighs the arguments for and against.

The case

In March 2011, Yale University...