tv Free Speech in France America CSPAN July 3, 2021 11:00am-12:01pm EDT
is the second in a wonderful series of panels co-sponsored by the cultural services of the french embassy which compare us and french approaches to the constitution. i want to share that yesterday. i was hiking in rock creek park in the us and i came across a monument to the french ambassador juicero, and it was right by a cliff where he used to hike with theodore roosevelt and there's a wonderful inscription right by it, which i want to read because it reminds us of the central fraternity of the us and france in defending values like free speech and
liberty. this is what franklin roosevelt said in dedicating this juicero memorial in 1936. he said we shall link mr. joseph hall's name forever with the names of lafayette and the whole shambo and degrass and the other valiant frenchman who service to this country entitles them for all. to the grateful remembrance of all americans it is an inspiring dedication and it reminds us of the central. enlightenment values that we share in the us and france the central role of france in making american independence possible and our shared commitment to free speech. so we're going to explore that today with four of the greatest scholars and commentators of free speech in america and france, and i'm so delighted to introduce them to you and then to begin our discussion.
and i will do that now makoliviere be re is staff editor and reporter for the ideas debate section of the moment. he his articles are illuminating and i learned from them each time. i read them. he was niemann fellow at harvard in 2021. i think is now and has been published in many magazines and has translated several books including jonathan. israel's revolutionary ideas suzanne. nossel is the ceo of pen america the leading human rights and free expression organization. she is the author of dare to speak defending free speech for all of important book that we had an illuminating discussion of on a recent town hall. geoffrey stone is edward h. levy distinguished service professor at the university of chicago. he is the author of many centrally important books on constitutional law including the
free speech century speaking out to reflections of law liberty and justice perilous times free speech and wartime his newest book co-edited with lee bollinger as national security leaks and freedom of the press and he is the author of the national constitution centers explainer on the first amendment with eugene valik and ellen tegulja is law professor at ex mache university in france co-director of the law school's master's program of international law and an expert on reparations before the international criminal court. she's also a member of the un human rights committee. thank you so much for joining us. i'm not going to be a suzanne jeff and ellen jeff. i want to begin with you. you wrote a piece about the charli hebdo controversy in france explaining why in america? the publication of the charlie hebdo cartoons although
considered blasphemous by some would but absolutely be protected by the first amendments of the constitution. tell us why the first amendment protects blasphemy what the central cases that protect blasphemous expression are and under what circumstances in the first amendment on offensive speech can be banned. so there have been laws in the united states in the past that prohibited blasphemy and if you go back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they were occasional prosecutions for blasphemous speech but over the last hundred years or so, it's become clear that the concept of punishment for blasphemy clearly violates both the free speech clause of the constitution and the free exercise clause of the constitution and there to my knowledge hasn't been a successful prosecution for blasphemy in this country in close to a century.
the the charlie head goes situation the issue that would arise today would be less one of that blasphemy and more one about whether the speech created a danger of a violent response and their first amendment jurors prudence in the united states has evolved over. the course of the past century and has become much more speech protective over time in 1951. the supreme court had a case called finer versus new york in which an individual was giving a speech on a public street. that was clearly upsetting to a number of observers and the police eventually ordered him to stop speaking arrested him because of the concern that there might be a violent response and the supreme court in a sharply divided decision upheld the conviction and said that the first amendment did not protect his speech in that circumstance in the 70 years
since then however free speech doctrine is continued to evolve and in 1969 and the supreme court's decision and brandenburg versus ohio. this was a situation in which a nazi speaker was engaged in highly inflammatory speech and was arrested because of the concern that speech would would cause others to engage in races violence against others and the supreme court held that he could not constitutionally be punished in that situation unless the government could prove that he had the specific intent to cause that harm and that there was a the harm was likely imminent engraved a test at the court has to this day never held to have been satisfied now in charlie heb go situation raises. he really dramatic example of that problem because let's suppose that after the first engine we would have a second
publication of the same types of cartoons knowing what happened the first time. and the question then would be how many times can you do this knowing that the response is likely to be to trigger violence. obviously the magazine would say we did not have the specific intent of causing that but the government could say there's a clearer present danger. we know this from past experience supreme court's never addressed that question never had to address that question and but my guess is that inlet except in a situation in which the danger was as i said clear present and grave the chords would uphold the right of the magazine of the speaker to engage in the speech and put the burden on government to avoid the violence by providing protection against it, but the court is not had a really charlie heb to a type situation. in the united states since brandenburg, and it's not a hundred percent clear what the
court would do particularly if this was the second time it happened and we're ready knew what it would in the first instance. thank you so much for that extremely clear explanation of the brandenburg standard speech as you just said in the us must be protected unless it is intended to and likely to cause imminent violence. and you said there might be some question about that for a second publication of the shall we have the cartoons. what is the source of protection for free speech in france is the constitution is its statute are the shelley hebdo cartoons protected and what are the circumstances under? which free speech can be restricted as incitement to violence in france. yeah, thank you. thank you very much for the question very important of corals because it's an important difference between french and the us and on this on this topic and the question of limitation.
the first the first difference is in terms of legal protection because of course we do not have a similar first amendment the freedom of speech is protected by different statues and very important statues in france. of course, there are also very important decisions from the french say constitutional so the french constitutional court also the case law of the european court of human rights, but i would say from a general point of view the statute of freedom of speech and the scope the very white scope of the freedom of speech is very different in french in france compared to to the us and relation to what just have been. state for instance in order to limit the freedom of speech or the press freedom. the requirement is not as high
as the imminent violence requirement or the danger requirements actually the french approach to freedom of speech is really more balanced. i would say and we will develop this point maybe later but actually journalists media etc, of course our understood as a key element of a democratic society and i said they have their protected but in the meantime, they have duties and responsibilities. and for instance, i would just give two example of limitations apology of terrorism a journalist cannot for instance publish cartoons jokes etc on terrorism, and we have different legislation applicable in france to this kind of apology of terrorism and it's prohibited and it's under criminal.
it may be under criminal sanction, even if it may be considered as not immediately dangerous or immediately calling for violent act and the are elements with we just mentioned this but the other element is criticism criticism on religion. it really depends again because we have to compile the freedom of speed the press may be a press freedom etc with the respect of a reputation religions of others and so on and so forth. so the bottom line is to say that we we do not have such a broad and white scope of the freedom of speech and it must be considered with other rights and liberty. thank you very much for that. that is extremely clear and helpful as well and it supports uh publication on the french government website, which says
everything you need to know about freedom of expression and france which lists some of the exceptions that you just noted the french government website says freedom of expression is instruction in the declaration of the rights of man freedom. press in the law of 1881 but it has limits. um racism antisemitism racial hatred justification of terrorism or not opinions and the following are punishable by law reaffirming your point ln incitement to terrorism, which must be a direct and explicit incitement not only in spirit, but also in its terms public justification of terrorism which consists in presenting our commenting on active terrorism while justifying or praising them. since 2014 it's also punishable. it says by seven years of incarceration and then it also adds the following or punishable by law public provocations to hatred violence or racial discrimination public defamation on grounds of an actual or soon membership in an ethnic national race or religious group public slander on the same grounds and
disputing crimes against humanity. okay suzanne, you are a great international law expert jeff and ellen have you know, put the broad principles on the table. where did these exceptions in french law come from are they by courts or they buy? all and it's there some principle that justifies them or they're just a series of exceptions that french courts of french law have recognized and help us further understand the similarities and differences between the brand and burst standard and all of these exceptions. yeah. well, you know, i i am i don't consider myself a great legal expert which is why i like to be on panels with people like jeff and ellen, but you know, what? i will say is that under the iccpr article 19, which is essentially the international standard for protection and freedom of expression. it is less speech protective than the first amendment and it makes space for concepts like incitement to hatred and
excitement to discrimination as cognizable grounds for limitations on freedom of expression, which are criteria that we don't recognize here in the united states. it's really in this area of incitement that the differences between a kind of global approach and the approach that is in use in europe and the us approach are most striking where we have this very high standard that jeff is outlined, you know where it's very, you know, it's very hard to meat and it has to be imminent and likely to result in violence whereas in europe, you know you if it's incitement to discrimination and anti-semitic or racist cartoon, you know, that is judged as having a percent, you know a propensity to lead toward, you know, stoking bigoted attitudes, you know that can be banned there and you know from a us perspective. i think what sort of troubling about that is is just it seems very elastic, you know, it seems sort of enormously elastic. i mean if you take it to you
know, things like sexism and you know depictions of women that might have a propensity to you know, give rise to sexist attitudes, you know, that would be so much of film and television maybe until the last couple of years. so, you know, i think that's sort of the essence of this distinction, but you know, i think it bears saying a couple of other things, you know, jeff points out look and you know in the united states you couldn't aband the trolley ebto cartoons. i mean, that's true. you know, they certainly weren't banned in france and that you know, this the whole controversy about those cartoons really has you know little to do with the law. you know, it's really mostly a matter of public attitudes and even though the cartoon certainly would have been protected speech in this country. you know, they were not published and there were important, you know news outlets. yeah, they were certainly new okay the time when there were news or they and many news outlets hesitated to publish them, you know, because a taboo that exists in this country and
i think that, you know a lot of the focused in my book dare to speak is about how so many of our free speech controversies today really don't implicate the first amendment or even international law they have to do with more days and how we govern ourselves. and so i think it's hard to probe into these distinctions between a us and a french approach which without getting into some of that, you know, just to just point, you know, i think in this case and and my french colleagues will you know contradict you if you think i'm wrong, i think there's a very there's an excellent argument. they absolutely were on notice and continued to publish provocative cartoons, you know, the yulin's post and controversy who's back in 2006 and the sharp the editor of charlie hebdo was put on an al-qaeda, you know, most wanted list alongside the editors and journalists of yellen's poston because they republished the the so called
danish cartoons. and so you know this, you know that awareness and i thought was interesting that you brought up the idea that it court might treated differently, you know if there was such clear evidence that it might elicit a violent response because i think that the other probably was that evidence in this case, you know my own understanding of these precepts is always been you know, this crucial distinction between kind of his incitement and and provocation with incitement being a kind of egging on where you're really encouraging people to engage in violence and provocation being you know that you're saying something objectionable or outlandish or at sandiary and then in response somebody that you have no control over, you know engages in violence, you know, i think and hope that that distinction is is is a strong one because i think there's a very different level of culpability if we start holding people responsible for the
reaction of others. to what they say even if those reactions may be predictable, you know, i think that's that sort of strikes me as quite a dangerous road to go down because it gives it's kind of an amplified heckler's veto where if i sort of make clear in advance that i'm going to go nuclear if you dare offend me and some other way, you know, your rights might be constricted on the basis of that. thank you very much for all that for flagging the danger of the heckler's veto and for introducing this central legal authority. you called it the iccpr. that's the international covenant on civil and political rights which protects freedom of expression and articles 19 and 20 that article was cited by the facebook advisory board, which suzanne you serve on in the recent trump the facebook decision where the advisory board noted that facebook had
invoked the iccpr in permitting necessary and proportionate restrictions on freedom of expression in situations of public emergency that threaten the life of the nation and you know, that that's more elastic than the first amendment standards mark olivier just before we leave france entirely and broaden to the to the international standard. you're one of the most thoughtful observers of similarities and differences between french american law i mean, i'm still having trouble locating exactly where it is in french law that this free expression is protected judicial decisions statutes or or the international declaration for rights of man. he legally and and culturally how would you help us understand the differences between the french and american constitutional protections for free speech and quite frankly jeffrey. i thank you for this question and thank you for the
invitation, but i'm not a legal scholar and i have very limited legal culture and more as a journalism or practitioner of freedom of expression. and what i can tell you about the xiaomi abdul debate is that even though they are actually the west protected by is protected by french laws. it doesn't mean that there's a unified. understanding of these caricatures in france it is the cause of major debates and or pages at the moment. the ipad pages have been the a theater where that that controversy has played out and it's important to be remember that even though the france seems to be unified as the french president. seems to be pushing forward
saying well, we must protect the freedom of expression of these journalists and of these cartoonists, it doesn't mean that the whole society agrees on that and ramon west really keen after the impact to say just visually as it was then the key the word that the expression that the whole big part of france embraced. and but i would also say that not i don't think that everybody in in our newsroom was agreeing with that. so it's important to remember that they are divisions in other ways to look at these issues when and the the practice of freedom of expression raises those questions and they are they should be welcomed. they are part of the democratic experience and as a as a journalist, i feel i feel very much protected by the loss which
exist in france which which put borders on what we can do the call to violence is really clear. it's it's forbidden, which means that some article that an article that was recently published in the american press in which club. yeah and a major editor in a major publication fired over a a an opin that was a published under the title send in the troops. couldn't admin published in france. i couldn't publish that. i would have been legally liable for that. call to violence or forbidden. that's fascinating. so you've just told us that that is an example of differences between the two protection and you could not have published the call on the troops up at very interesting indeed. jeff for this round, you know
both all of your colleagues referred to these international standards it clearly under international law. there's greater grounds for prohibiting hate speech in europe than there is in the us holocaust denial is forbidden and germany as well as france and james whitman the yale scholar has the most wonderful article about two conceptions of privacy liberty versus dignity where he says the european permissions for the prohibition of hate speecher rooted in protections of dignity. whereas the us is more focused on liberty. so take us out to a us european comparison and tell us about the kinds of speech that could be banned under your european and international instruments. that could not be banned in the us. the hate speech is a good example, and i think it's important to understand that the united states has come to a
position. that is highly protective of the right to free speech but it didn't start there the supreme court when it first began interpreting the first amendment in 1919 upheld the convictions of a broad range of individuals who would criticized world war i and the draft on the ground that such speech could interfere with the ability of the government to to draft soldiers and to fight the word successfully and therefore it could be prohibited. and then later during the communist era in the 1950s the supreme court upheld the convictions of all the leaders of the communist party on the ground that their speech could be harmful to the nation. and during the civil rights era lower courts upheld convictions of civil rights marchers because they triggered a response by white onlookers that was seen as violent. and therefore you could punish
the martyrs for for doing this and over time with the supreme court came to understand is first of all, we cannot trust ourselves to have the authority to decide what we as americans can say in the moment, we may think we are being fair-minded and balanced and appropriate and proportionate but with hindsight we realized that our judgment has been severely colored by the circumstances and by the pressures of the time and with the court learned over those decades is that it cannot trust. ourselves and it cannot trust itself. to have the authority to approve the suppression of speech when that speech might be offensive to others. and even if it causes harm unless the harm is essentially like to create a imminent and
engrave danger and it one wouldn't start there if one wanted to begin in 1919 and one would have a hard time justifying such an extreme approach to free speech and even though as we know just as homes and justice brandeis embraced an approach somewhere like that very early on it's not even clear. they would have carried it as far as we do today. so i think a lot of a lot of first amendment jurors prudence and this issue is the product is the product of learning for our own mistakes and learning we cannot trust ourselves and in particular. we cannot trust ourselves to allow the majority to decide what points of view can be prohibited. yes, you can regulate speech in terms of the time place and manner of speech not based on the message being communicated as low as it's reasonable. but as soon as the government picks out particular points of view, whether it be anti-war speech or communist speech or
civil rights speech or hate speech. we don't trust ourself to do that. and we therefore air dramatically on the side of guaranteeing free speech and there's a cost to that. it means we're allowing speech that does cause all sorts of harm in society, but what we've learned is that better to deal with those farms than with the danger of giving the government the power to decide which ideas and which points of you it will censor thank you very much for that. thank you for reminding us that the protections for hate speech stemming from brandenburg or relatively recent and that they make the us very much an outlier when it comes to the rest of the world and then we just had one more thought on that before just supreme court did uphold the equivalent of the hate speech law in 1952 in case called beauvigne and the court is has
clearly rejected the premise of that decision ever since in the last half century not a single justice has even argued. the hate speech can be prohibited consistent with the first amendment whether they're liberal or conservative makes no difference for half-century now every single justice he was addressed that question has embraced the view that hate speech is a point of view and we are not going to allow the government to suppress certain points of view. sorry. i just wanted to mention that lower in a case there. no, it's a it's it's central and it's a reminder as you said that really hasn't been that long. since the 1950s that the us as early as the 1950s the us did allow the provision of hate speech which really raises the question which i'd love us to dig in on whether this is an aberration in us jurisprudence, and there are tremendous pressures to move the us more any european direction and as we saw in the in the facebook
decision where the advisory board invoked international law and we see the growing demands for the regulation of hate speech. online the question is will and should the us go more in an international. direction and then you are scholar of international law help us understand now more of the international instruments that regulate free speech including the one that suzanne flagged and what are the precise and understanding that's a balancing of interests. how does international law balance interests of speakers against hate speech and what kind of hate speech does it allow the regulation of yeah. yeah. thank you. yeah, i'm going to talk about both the iccp here, and i'm a member of the human rights committee. so it's the body in charge of dealing with the implementation of the iccp here and the european culture human rights because on this issue of
limitation of types of speech both organs morales have the same approach to to limitation. i would actually there are two kinds of limitations of speech authorized. i've been international level. all when when a speech for instance is very offensive discriminatory or a speech targets for instance the community there are many many judgments delivered by the european court of human rights on prohibition of speech for instance that targets roma community for instance or describes roma community as a very bad community and community and so on and so forth. so the balance made by the european court of human rights and the human rights committee is really a test of necessity
and proportionality the necessity of course to protect freedom of speech because it's an important pillar of democracy, but also the necessity to protect the rights of minorities the right of different groups and so on and so forth and on the case by case analysis both the human rights committee on the european court of human rights do assess whether the limitation of the speech or the prehibition of the speech was inconformity with the iccp or the european convention of human rights, but there are so another type of discourse totally prohibited by international law. it's the for instance as you mentioned genocide dinners holocaust discourse and so on and so forth and in this case, it's not only a limitation of freedom of speech but both in the european convention and in
the iccpr, there is a provision dealing with abuse of rights. and when someone for instance makes a discourse denying the holocaust for the international buddies. it is considered as an abusive rights. so it means that the person does not write does not have the right anymore to use the freedom of speech and to claim the violation of is or her freedom of speech. so the there are also many interesting decisions for instance against france for his own against france for his noise. he's unfortunately, i would say a very famous person who denies holocaust and second world war and so on and so forth and it came before the human rights committee and the human rights committee rejected. he's he's complained and we have very recent example on a
performance and an artistic performance dealing with holocaust and and again denying the holocaust the performance was. limited by the french authorities and the artist was not permitted to go before the european court of human rights. so indeed on the contrary to the us the prohibition of this kind of not only offensive or discriminatory discourses, but also very discourses very harmful to dignity. you mentioned the concept of dignity is absolutely prohibited by international and european european law. thank you very much for that and for signaling this idea of dignity is the core of the international protections, which are is a very different approach than the us one suzanne. there are limits, of course to what you can tell us about the
facebook advisory board, but it did cite the iccpr centrally in its decisions. do you see international law rather than the first amendment as being the future of free speech online, especially as the most of our speech takes place online and companies like facebook or choosing to abide international rather than us standards and you mentioned the malleability of the international standards. is that a good thing or are you concerned that free speech may suffer as a result. well a couple things, you know, first of all it remains the case that the major social media platforms are us based and so the first amendment does. just heavily informed the leo in which sport the executives and legal counsels, you know kind of grew up and and the way they understand the world and i think the firm. sort of at least rhetorical
commitment to free speech that is embedded in most of these platforms. i think when it comes to adjudicating content online, there is a very strong logic to looking to international laws the standard because it's global these issues are global, know looking at every jurisdiction in the world and so to the extent that the laws differ obviously the national law comes into play and platforms have to adhere to national law in the jurisdictions in which they operate a france has adopted quite a restrictive. sort of digital hate law that imposes harsh fines for platforms that fail to take down hateful speech and so, you know that arguably, you know, i think from a us lens people would argue that provision like that might be in contravention of international law might go too far and yet the platforms are certainly bound to it, but i think what it comes to the oversight board international
law is the right reference point. it's important to understand though. it is not the notion is not that it applies directly and automatically the platforms it does it, you know, international law fines governments and was developed to address and circum. powers of government so it requires a kind of inductive reasoning to think about how that power ought to apply to private company. i think there's some ideas in international law that are helpful, you know the notion that a restriction on freedom of speech needs to be enumerated that you need to people need to be on notice that something is prepared the ideas of necessity and proportionality that elaine touched upon so, i think it's a useful reference point, you know the work of figuring out how to apply it sensibly in. yeah, this this global private context of a private platform is you know, really sort of now
just getting underway, you know will that then filter back to how us courts adjudicate free speech issues. i think that's possible. i mean, we've already seen some courts around the world begin to reference these, you know even just the earliest first few dec. of the oversight board because they are, you know, the board is kind of confronting many of these cutting-edge questions. that courts may look at as well. so yeah, that's that's how i would look at it. but i think it's important to recognize that. you know, i don't think anybody's really arguing that we should treat private companies the same way that we do governments. we all accept and you know, in fact demand a much more aggressive level of intervention moderation take downs from private companies, then we would accept from a government in the context of freedom of speech protections just to go to your
quickly to your your original question about whether this slow slide here in the us toward a more internationalist and european approach is a good idea. i think one of the the factors that we're confronting on all of this is just you know, as our societies become more diverse these really difficult questions. i think, you know, jeff ways that very well talking about how we've kind of learned these lessons the hard way about how dangerous it is to arrogate the power to do this line drawing into the hands of government and you know in europe, it's sort of seems very clear-cut when it's anti-semitism, but when it's anti-muslim sentiment, you know, it's sort of a very different prism that seems to apply when that speech is evaluated and you can understand that sort for historical and sociological reasons, but it raises real questions about you know, whether any government authorities are really into
position to apply these precepts fairly and you know, if you question that i think it's sort of tilts the balance toward more toward an american approach where you know, their discretion is limited. in the thanks for that and that's a great way of laying out the choices between the more international approach and the more american approach at an increasingly multicultural moment a mark olivier. we have a question from our audience and noting that my screen is just froze. but it it asks that in light of your discussion of the tom cotton op-ed. what about the publication of french army letters. so tell us about that controversy as well as other here we go. it's interesting to hear about the tom cotton not bad in light of the french army letters published in the last month under what context for those
allowed if the cotton op-ed would not be and tell us about that and other areas as a journalist where you could not publish stuff in france, that would be published in the us. concerning the od army letter. i think it's a bit early to really comment on the the the legal aspect of it because it might it could go to toilet complaint could be file and i don't know what would happen quite frankly in terms of i think also that some of the authors were seeing that they're relations to the french army were cut off, you know, so it's already a form of sanction, but and clearly also it wasn't published by the same kind of an institution.
it was first published by i think a blog then it was got republished by and ultra conservative weekly, so it's not the same publication as where the thumb cartoon appeared and it's not the same thing as it doesn't. with an app the same kind of a general appeal so it's difficult to compare them because these things matter. and the second question of aspect of your question, i i think that it's important to to understand that the culture around. freedom of speech even though it's such a broad and universalistic principle is not the same united they are you know. the moors are not the same. we don't conduct ourselves in the same way for example after the chalet though.
attack the usa today published an op-ed which didn't wasn't really noticed in france at that time, but i remember reading it and being shot because it was written by engine shudari, which is so-called islamic cleric even though he defends terrorism and he made different, you know appearances in the the american press. i don't think it i would publish such a person in an update, you know, there would be another it's okay to publish the the opinion of such person, but there would be journalistic pushback. you wouldn't publish it in it like an open format where this person is free to say whatever they want. they would be questioned from internally. so the practices of a freedom of speech or not the same and i'm not saying that this one is
better or the other is better. it's really for me. i think it's for very difficult to make a such a judgment like that and professor he ticodia, i'm sorry if i mean, it's pronounced her name. i'm sorry made allusion to anna for his own which is like a friend's most famous negastianist. he started his career in the moment by publishing in 1977 and up at in which he explained that the all of us never happened. and this led to laws being adopted to a condemned the negation of the other cost. you could say it's a good thing. i believe it's a good thing but a colleague of mine works on the resistance interviewed one of the last lady who fought and their resistance and for her, it was really important to publish that i bet. and to publish an appear and
again i said an app another an interview with that information because she said these views must be exposed. it must be shown and there must be expressed so that people can see them for what they are and so for that it's really difficult too to make it a judgment calling to say well, this is the best and this is this doesn't work. i'm not in a position to make such a comment, but i just want to underline that they are different ways to look at it. thank you for laying out the arguments and for your you know modesty in and not choosing among them. but for this last round, i think i do want to ask each of you which tradition you would advocate for one of our questioners notes the growing pressure in the us toward the adoption of more european style hate speech laws and jeff stone. you have written the leading protections for free speech on campus in the united states the
your your inspiring updating of the chicago principles of the university of chicago. um, do you believe that and and i'll also say in response as the us tradition is that holocaust denial would have to be protected because as just as brandeis said in the whitney case as long as there's time enough for deliberation the best response to evil councils is a good and we have faith that counter speech is better than suppression. do you believe that the us should resist efforts to adopt more european style provisions of hate speech and why? so i do believe that we should resist that and i think the supreme court would certainly agree with that proposition. the reason why is simply that i don't trust our government. with the power to decide what ideas to suppress.
again, looking back at our own experience that's been abused repeatedly. over time and being able to define, you know, what is what is hate speech right is hate speech criticizing african-american's, you know latinas asian americans jews poles gaze straits married people on married people and maybe it goes on and on and i think that in the end we are better off allowing that kind of speech to be spoken and responding to it and looking for education and truth and i think you know, one of the things we see in our countries that by allowing speech that in many instances would have been suppressed of government had the authority to breastfeeds haven't seen as inappropriate. we've changed our minds we've changed the minds about women's rights about about civil rights about gay rights if the majority had the authority to suppress that speech because it thought
it was immoral. um gay should have equal rights or that women generally people rights. um, i don't know we be where we are today. so there's a downside i'm not saying it's not a risk in taking the american approach, but my own view is i'd rather take that risk than the risk of giving government the power to decide what ideas it will suppress and what it don't not suppress and one one way of thinking about that is you know, what would the trump administration have done it had the authority? to do that um, i wouldn't i suspect want to live in the country. in which the trump administration and republican party had the authority to decide which ideas are impermissible because they're wrong-headed and unfair and hateful and whatever. i don't think we would have the democracy that we strive to have today if we allowed that to happen and that's the lesson we've learned from history. and i i think it's the right lesson. thank you for that inspiring defense of the american free
speech tradition elena. i want to ask you whether you think that the european tradition which emphasizes dignity is to be preferred and i do want to ask you about a fascinating speech that president macron gave recently. he was a denouncing what he called islamist separatism and said that a conscious theorized political religious project is materializing through repeated deviations from the republic's universal values, and he in particular and notably called out what he called social science theories imported from the united states by which he meant critical race theories with their problems, which i respect in which exists. but which must be added to ours he said user anglo-saxon traditions based on a different history, which is not ours. this is a complicated but important intellectual.
conflict between the more universalistic traditions that president macron emphasized of liberty equality fraternity and dignity and this more multicultural or identity politics based approach that he was questioning. how is it possible that on the one hand france is embracing this universalism against? critical race theory, but at the same time is allowing for more regulation of hate speech than the us regulation allows. yeah, very very important questions. of course maybe first on the european model indeed. i'm i'm really attached to these european model and and just to explain why i'm going to use a french expression the vive han solomon and i think that it's really difficult in and for me, it's also linked to democracy, but it's really difficult to
accept very offensive discriminatory discourse if we want to bring a society and if we want to to build a society based on these deep ensemble values, so for me the the balance it's it's and and i agree with what have been say by by the by the colleagues. i mean, it's really difficult to to balance, but it's also very important to keep this balance between and is the city and proportionality of prohibition or acceptance of types of discourse? the second element indeed is very very worrying. and in this case, i would i would of course, i think europe and france would need to to take inspiration from the us and and we are as a scholar for instance. especially i'm really worried on this. threads on academic freedom
because it's not only a discourse. maybe you know that the french ministry of higher education decided to launch an investigation and on a researchers and publications of people who work on the colonial colonialism and so on and so forth our history race theory etc, so it's not only at the level of political discourse, but it has direct consequences on the work and the kind of theory we for instance at the university. i teach gender theory. is it allowed? i don't know and of course, it's my academic freedom to talk to my students on the gender. theories race theory etc. it's very in indeed this academic freedom issue is very worrying and yeah, the rationality of these of course, i think it's really more
political. i would say that really based on an approach or intellectual approach of your universalism and fortunately the fascinating thank you for that suzanne. this is a really important complicated debate and broadly it seems to be between the universalistic tradition that president macon defended in his speech and which is rooted in the american first amendment tradition as well. of allowing the multiplicity of views to flourish without regulation and well, we'll call it this more particularist tradition which president maclean associated with critical race theory which would suggest in the academy and public square that uh, there's less grounds for free speech. how would you characterize this debate and and help us understand how in this case? it's france that seems to be on
the side of universalism. yeah, look, i don't think it's that simple. i think there is a kind of intimate interplay between our free speech precepts. yeah the desire to give greater recognition to other identities and experiences, you know, the emphasis that's being placed on critical race theory. the backlash against it, you know my a lot of my work and my book is about how we can reconcile the imperative of driving toward forward toward and more equal inclusive society with robust protections for free speech and academic freedom. and you know, i i think a lot of that best really, you know going back to something i said in the beginning it's it's not ultimately i don't think gonna be resolved by law. i think it's gonna be resolved by social norms and taboos and how we figure out how to live together in these diverse societies and where we need to exercise voluntary restraint and how we can communicate to people
about the imperative of that and the benefits of that and how that can actually be a safeguard itself for free speech. i mean if the vast majority of us the vast majority of the time exercise conscientiousness and distracted discretion and our respectful, i think we can have space at the outer margins for people who want to to provoke and challenge i mean to just point for god and advanced heresies that you know, maybe destructive but may also be catalytic for social progress and i think it is by, you know, sort of revising our set of social norms that govern free speech that we can safeguard and make space for you know that which really tests and contest them. so that's that's how i look at it. thank you for that and i recommend your wonderful book to our viewers which argues among other things that many of these debates must be resolved not by law, but by norms well not olivia. you have a tough or an honored
position, which is the last word in this great discussion, and i'll leave it to you to leave our listeners with as a student observer of american and french society. how do you see the similarities and differences between french and american approaches to free speech? there's a the questions of the norms and the way that we negotiate all those questions are really important and one of the things that struck me in the year that i have passed in the us as an even fellow at i didn't even the fellowship versus come to an end and i've been struck by the number of journalists who have lost their job because of misplaced tweeted recent or in their past. and there's an element where i can take a normative stance and i think that in terms of protection of workers. it will be great if the the us take a bit of inspiration from france because it i believe there's a tendency to fire a bit people a bit.
too fast and instead so it looks as if the management has taken into consideration the problem and as moved and done something about it. but in fact, it's just getting rid of the problem and the questions are not really asked if you if you don't have the room to make mistake and then discuss it as a practitioner of free speech of a freedom of expression and freedom of the press and then it's like well, why didn't it work? why what's the problem with that and if you're just fired and then disappear the the the incentive is simply to take less risk and not to assess the risk and try to decide. how is it how is it? always the good way to conduct democratic debate in the opinion pages of any given newspapers. so in terms of law, i would say i would follow biden's call to strengthen unions, but that's
really maybe more of a joke, but i think a general observation. i think that this actually aspect of the the work relations are also really important in the practice of free speech. it's a crucial point and thank you for reminding us and teaching us that in france. there are protections for workers being fired on the basis of speech that don't exist in the us and in that respect. we might indeed in the us take a lesson from france. thank you so much, jeff stone ellen. deguja suzanne nossel and maholivia de rey for just a wonderful discussion of similarities and differences between french and american approaches to free speech and thank you so much. that's some mishlo the cultural services of the french embassy for having conceived of this important series to the ambassador philippe chen who's been defending free speech and has also supporting our joint collaboration very much in the
tradition of juicy hall lafayette horshambo and all those great french heroes who inspired me during my walk in rock creek and who inspire all of us with our shared devotion to the universal principles of liberty fraternity and equality. look forward to our next convening very soon and until then. thank you and igood afternoon, o
the culminating session of our symposium on first ladies. it's been a really terrific day since we began this morning with dr. biden's message then heard from fred ryan and anita mcbride from our board of directors and sylvia burwell our partner at american university and what a wonderful panel of presenters that we've had each and every time throughout the day and now i have the cherry on top of the ice cream sunday of having a conversation with karen. tumulty. karen was with the time magazine for a long time of her career and has been with the washington post as a political writer and is a really