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The Fate of Freedom of Expression in Liberal Democracies

October 1, 2015

“The Fate of Freedom of Expression in Liberal Democracies,” held at Wellesley College in October 2015, brought together scholars, public intellectuals, journalists, and editors from across the world to discuss matters related to free expression in the West. FIRE was there to cover the action at the event, organized by Wellesley College Professor Thomas Cushman and Danish human-rights advocate Jacob Mchangama.

Thomas Cushman
Founding Director of The Freedom Project. Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences; Professor of Sociology

Thomas Cushman is Founding Direcor of The Freedom Project and Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College. He has served as Chairman of the Wellesley Sociology Department twice.

The conference took place over three days and was divided in to four thematic sessions: 

- The Defense of Freedom of Expression Against Violent Extremism

- Freedom of Expression versus Laws against Hatred and Offense 

- The Rise and Fall of Freedom of Expression as a Cultural Force 

- Freedom of Expression and Terrorism 

Several prominent international free speech advocates were on hand to present at the conference. Danish journalist Flemming Rose, the foreign affairs editor at Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten and the man behind the 2006 publication of the Muhammad cartoons, gave a lecture on “Free Speech and a New European Narrative.” His lecture described the fallout from his paper’s controversy and how it points to a new era in censorship for European journalism. The PEN American Center’s Suzanne Nossel discussed “The Threat to Freedom of Speech from Non-State Actors.” And FIRE’s executive director, Robert Shibley, discussed themes of censorship on American college campuses from the influential article “The Coddling of the American Mind,” co-authored by FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff in The Atlantic in September 2015.