Free Speech in a Time of Hate Speech

January 29 at 7pm - Greensboro History Museum


The concept of ‘free speech’ has traditionally been applied to the guarantee from censorship by the government enshrined in the Constitution. However, the term has taken on a broader meaning in our current political moment as public discussion centers on who should be allowed a platform on media such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, and who should be removed or ‘cancelled.’ In this conversation we’ll explore the language of hate vs. the language of dissent, who decides who is allowed to speak and how, and the responsibility of the media consumer in safeguarding free speech issues.

This program is presented in conjunction with the Greensboro History Museum and the NCA Center for Communication, Collaboration, and Change.

Greensboro History Museum's Project Democracy 20/20 is exploring American democracy and voting with exhibits, programs and community collaborations throughout 2020. The museum is a division of the City of Greensboro Libraries Department.

Conversation Partners

Jonathan Friedman
Jonathan Friedman is the project director for campus free speech at PEN America. He oversees PEN America’s advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion at colleges and universities.

Allen Johnson
Allen Johnson is the Editorial Page Editor at the Greensboro News & Record

Alejandro Beutel
Alejandro J. Beutel is an independent research scholar specializing in the study and analysis of violent and non-violent Islamist and far-right movements. From August 2017 to March 1, 2019 he was a Senior Research Analyst at Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence Project where he monitored U.S. far-right extremism and hate, focusing primarily on the anti-Muslim and anti-government "Patriot" movements.

Steve Mitchell, moderator
Steve Mitchell is a writer and co-owner of Scuppernong Books.

Spoma Jovanovic, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Since 2001, she has been teaching students there how to collaborate with community members on programs and activist strategies designed to enhance ethical conversations and action related to civic literacy, cultural understanding, democratic participation, and social justice.

Writers as Witness

Traditional journalism is under attack across the country. Economic forces are closing more and more print and digital new sources, while non-news sources proliferate. Political figures regularly decry established news sources as ‘fake news’ and call out individual reporters. Cancel culture threatens to limit discussion of sensitive topics. In fact, the very concept of traditional journalism is shifting rapidly, morphing to a new media landscape.
Scuppernong Books is working in conjunction with PEN America and Greensboro Bound Literary Festival to present Writers as Witness in the Fall 2019 and Winter 2020.
How is journalism done and how does it affect our community and our country? What are our responsibilities as media consumers? What is unbiased journalism? What are the limits of free speech? What are the current threats (economic, cultural, and political) to free journalistic expression in the US?
The Writers as Witness series seeks to explore the ways in which writers—be they journalists, poets, memoirists, or fiction writers—engage and elaborate our current cultural moment in America.