Should hatemongers and extremists have free speech rights? Cornell lecture

By: Claire Perez,  Department of History
September 13, 2021

Hate speech is increasingly discouraged, even banned, by many institutions and media platforms. But allowing open forums for all speech -- including hate speech -- is essential to democracy. Civil liberties expert Nadine Strossen will discuss free speech in her talk at Cornell, “Why Should Hatemongers and Extremists Have Free Speech Rights?—A robust discussion.” The talk, hosted by the Freedom and Free Societies Program, will be held September 23, at 5:45 pm on Zoom. It will be interactive, with questions welcome from the attendees. The event is free and open to the public. 

 “Lively, astute, and passionate, Professor Strossen brings free speech front and center in the debates of our era. Whether you agree or disagree, you will find her talk to speak to the heart of our enterprise as members of a university community,” said Barry Strauss, Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies and director of the Freedom and Free Societies Program in the College of Arts & Sciences.

In her talk, Strossen will discuss how censorship, understood as resistance to hateful messages, might appear to be a common-sense strategy but, in reality, is not. Throughout history and around the world, she contends, censorship has shown itself ineffective and counterproductive at best.  

Strossen is a New York Law School Professor Emerita, past national President of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), and a leading expert, frequent speaker, and media commentator on constitutional law and civil liberties.   She has testified before Congress on many occasions.  Her book "Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights," was named a New York Times Notable Book of 1995. Her 2018 book "HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship" has recently been reissued with an epilogue on social media. 

Special thanks to Michael J. Millette ’87 and the Millette family for their generous support of the Freedom and Free Societies Program, which has made this event possible. Register at this Zoom link.


  A woman standing with her fist upraised at a protest at the White House