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Clear and Present Danger - A history of free speech

History Podcasts

Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s website at freespeechhistory.com

Location:

Denmark

Description:

Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s website at freespeechhistory.com

Language:

English

Contact:

+4523926100


Episodes
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Episode 41 - Free Speech and Racial Justice: Friends or Foes?

8/21/2020
In May 2020, protests erupted all over the U.S. after a video emerged of a white police officer killing a black man named George Floyd. Millions took to the streets in support of racial justice under the rallying cry “Black Lives Matter.” Most protests were peaceful, but several cities experienced large-scale violence. Free speech was also affected in the process. A disturbing number of incidents of police brutality and excessive force against peaceful protesters and journalists were documented. President Trump accused a Black Lives Matter leader of “treason, sedition, insurrection” and labelled protestors as “terrorists.” But demands for structural change also led to calls for de-platforming people whose views were deemed hostile to or even insufficiently supportive of racial justice. A Democratic data analyst named David Shor was fired after tweeting a study that showed that nonviolent black-led protests were more effective than violent ones in terms of securing voter support. In another instance, New York Times staffers protested that the newspaper put “Black @NYTimes staff in danger” by running a provocative op-ed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, which argued for deploying the military to quell riots. The newsroom revolt led to opinion editor James Bennet resigning. Academia was affected too. A letter signed by hundreds of Princeton faculty members, employees and students demanded a faculty committee be established to “oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication” and write “Guidelines on what counts as racist.” Social media companies came under intense pressure to take a more robust stand on “hate speech.” The entrenchment of so-called “cancel culture” caused around 150, mostly liberal, writers and intellectuals to sign an open “Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” The letter argued against what the signers saw as “intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” The letter drew sharp criticism from many journalists, writers and intellectuals for being “tone-deaf,” “privileged,” “elitist” and detracting from or even hurting the struggle for racial justice. The wider debate often turned nasty — especially on social media — with loud voices on each side engaging in alarmist, bad faith arguments ascribing the worst intentions to their opponents. Many of those concerned about free speech warned of creeping totalitarianism imposed by “social justice warriors” run amok, intent on imposing a stifling orthodoxy of “wokeism.” Some confused vehement criticism of a person’s ideas with attempts to stifle that person’s speech. On the other hand, some racial justice activists outright denied the existence of “cancel culture” and failed to distinguish between vehement criticism of a person’s ideas and calling for that person to be sanctioned by an employer, publisher or university. Some even accused free speech defenders of being complicit in or actual defenders of white supremacy and compared words deemed racially insensitive with violence. Underlying these debates is a more fundamental question. Is a robust and principled approach to free speech a foundation for — or a threat to — racial justice? To help shed light on this question, this episode will focus on what role the dynamic between censorship and free speech has played in maintaining and challenging racist and oppressive societies. The episode will use American slavery and segregation, British colonialism, and South African apartheid as case studies. In this episode we will explore: HowSouthern legislators and congressmen adopted some of the most draconian restrictions of free speech in American history, while Southern mobs enforced a “slaver’s veto” to curb abolitionist speech and ideas;How Southern demands that the Federal government and Northern states actively police abolitionist ideas kicked off a...

Duration:01:17:47

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Special Edition - Suzanne Nossel

7/31/2020
In this Special Edition, we will zoom in on current challenges to free speech – specifically in the US. With me to discuss this timely subject, I have CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, who has just published her new book Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. The conversation evolves the main conclusions of Suzanne's book including matters such as: Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America. She has also served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA; and held senior State Department positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations. Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:51:11

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Special Edition - Daphne Keller & Kate Klonick

5/14/2020
“Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal,” declared the headline of a recent Atlantic article by law professors Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Keane Woods. The piece argues that the U.S. must learn from China in regulating the internet. “[S]ignificant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet,” the authors write, “and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.” But is this conclusion the only one available from the fallout of the coronavirus crisis? Or are there other ways to ensure a mature and flourishing internet in which free speech and public health can coexist? And could Facebook’s new Oversight Board be one of the answers? Here to discuss the issue are two of the biggest experts on the subject of internet law and platform regulation: Daphne Keller, Platform Regulation Director at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center (formerly an Associate General Counsel at Google); and Kate Klonick, assistant professor at St. John’s University teaching internet law and information privacy, and a fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. In this episode we discuss: Whether social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been paragons of responsibility or the lapdogs of censorious governments, when it comes to content moderation?If the current crisis justifies lowering the threshold for when content is deemed “harmful” or if we should be even more vigilant about what stays online?Are there specific problems in the policies and guidelines laid out by health authorities like WHO and CDC, which have changed their position on issues like facemasks and included inaccurate information about the nature of COVID-19?What is the impact and outcome of automated content moderation based on the performance during the pandemic?Whether democracies — particularly European ones — have weakened online freedom by choosing to respond to legitimate concerns about hate speech, disinformation, and terrorist content with illiberal laws? Show notes: Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Keane Woods in The Atlantic: “Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal” Samuel Walker: “Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy” Daphne Keller’s Hoover Institution essay: “Who Do You Sue?” Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:38:53

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Special Edition - Dunja Mijatović

5/4/2020
Since the coronavirus became a pandemic, governments around the world have adopted a wide range of measures affecting basic human rights. This includes many of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe all of whom are legally bound by the European Convention on Human Rights. Most states have limited the freedoms of assembly and movement, some have also limited privacy and data protection ­and then there are some who have restricted freedom of expression through laws or policies banning false information. To discuss the implications for freedom of expression is none other than the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, who previously served as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. In a statement on April 3rd, Dunja Mijatović wrote: “The global health problems caused by COVID-19 require effective measures to protect people’s health and lives. This includes combating disinformation that may cause panic and social unrest. Regrettably some governments are using this imperative as a pretext to introduce disproportionate restrictions to press freedom; this is a counterproductive approach that must stop. Particularly in times of crisis, we need to protect our precious liberties and rights." In this conversation we discuss: Full Text of the April 3rd statement Home page for Dunja Mijatović

Duration:00:32:01

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Special Edition - Monika Bickert

4/17/2020
The coronavirus has disrupted life as we know it. Billions of people across the world are caught in varying degrees of lockdowns with severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. But while our physical world has shrunk, cyberspace remains wide open. And there is no shortage of information as the internet overflows with torrents of data, news, and updates about the ongoing crisis. But in parallel with the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization has warned of an “infodemic” of mis- and disinformation spreading through social media and messaging apps. Policymakers at social media platforms are acting like gatekeepers, deciding what content is sufficiently healthy for their users around the world to consume. These decisions have real consequences for the practical exercise of freedom of speech and access to information for billions of people. With me to discuss how Facebook is navigating this unprecedented situation is Monika Bickert, who is the Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook with responsibility for content moderation. In this conversation we discuss:

Duration:00:37:06

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Episode 40 - The Age of Human Rights: Tragedy and Triumph

2/3/2020
In 2014, Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam by promoting secular values on his blog Free Saudi Liberals. Raif Badawi’s fate would have been familiar to Soviet refusenik and human rights activist Natan Sharansky, and many other dissidents in the Soviet Bloc, who also faced long prison sentences and inhuman treatment during the Cold War. Both theocratic and communist states proclaim to be in possession of the “truth.” Consequently, they punish those who engage in religious or ideological heresy, leaving little room for the idea of human rights. So, it is no surprise that in 1948, Saudi Arabia and six European Communist states were among the eight countries that did not vote in favor of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both communist and Islamic states developed cautious strategies to engage with the growing human rights system in order to seek legitimacy without undermining their grip on power. One key strategy was to pull the teeth from the protection of free expression by including simultaneous obligations to prohibit the broadly defined concept of “incitement to hatred.” But ultimately the very human rights language which the communist states had sought to contain ended up eroding the communist stranglehold on power. But the repressive legacy of Communism had a long half-life, even after the ideology itself was dumped on the ash heap of history at the end of the Cold War. The countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — the OIC — sought to exploit the very loopholes that the communist states had introduced for their own purposes. Instead of protecting an atheistic and materialistic ideology, they advanced an interpretation of human rights where restrictions on free speech protected theistic and metaphysical Islamic doctrines from criticism and satire. And while a concerted global effort by democracies successfully beat back the OIC offensive at the UN, this conflict is still ongoing. In fact, the democracies and human rights system of Western Europe have internalized and expanded limitations on free speech, which they once deemed dangerous. This raises the question of just how robust the future of free speech — and the culture on which it depends — really is. In this episode we will explore: How the Communist East and the Capitalist West clashed over the limits of free speech when drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights at the UN;How Eleanor Roosevelt became a dogged and eloquent defender of principled free speech protections and warned against Soviet attempts to abuse hate speech restrictions to punish all dissent;How the American position at the UN clashed with domestic laws targeting communists under the Second Red Scare and McCarthyism;How the Soviet Bloc used laws against “incitement” to punish hundreds of dissidents and human rights activists behind the Iron Curtain;How the Helsinki Final Act provided dissidents with a tool to hold their governments morally accountable for human rights violations;How Western states and human rights NGOs gave dissidents like Vaclav Havel and Andrei Sakharov a voice and increased the pressure on the Soviet Bloc;How the Helsinki Final Act contributed to the fall of Communism;How, after the end of the Cold War, the OIC launched a campaign to prohibit “defamation of religions” at the UN;How the OIC campaign managed to secure majorities at the UN and conflate blasphemy and hate speech;How the OIC campaign was defeated by the Obama administration and the application of the Supreme Court decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio; andHow case law from the European Court of Human Rights undermines efforts to prevent future abuse of human rights to limit freedom of expression. Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to...

Duration:01:15:27

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Episode 39 - The Totalitarian Temptation – Part II - Der Untergang

1/27/2020
In November 2019 German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a passionate speech to the German Bundestag. Merkel said “We have freedom of expression in this country…. But freedom of expression has its limits. Those limits begin where hatred is spread … where the dignity of other people is violated”. Merkel grew up under a stifling communist dictatorship and serves as chancellor of a country where vicious propaganda once helped paved the way for genocide. So few have stronger credentials when it comes to balancing the pros and cons of free speech. And Merkel´s words of warning are impossible to separate from Germany´s Nazi past following the democratic collapse of the Weimar republic. There can be no doubt that Merkel and the German commitment to “militant democracy” is motivated by a sincere belief, to paraphrase the political philosopher Karl Popper´s famous “paradox of tolerance,” that democracies must be intolerant towards the intolerant. . But there are also those who argue that criminalizing speech is a cure worse than the disease in democracies. To use a deliberately provocative term, laws against free speech might serve as “enabling acts” for authoritarian regimes to crush dissent once in power. George Orwell reached the opposite conclusion of Merkel. In the unpublished foreword to his famous novel Animal Farm, Orwell warned against the “widespread tendency to argue that one can only defend democracy by totalitarian methods”. Orwell cautioned “that if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you.” In this episode we will explore how Weimar Germany was deeply conflicted about the value of free speech. On the one hand, freedom of expression and the press were constitutionally protected. On the other hand, the constitution allowed censorship of cinema and “trash and filth” in literature. Weimar Germany enjoyed a vibrant public sphere with thousands of newspapers, daring art, great intellectuals and groundbreaking science, and yet, authorities used draconian laws and emergency decrees to curb newspapers and individuals seen as fanning the flames of political violence by anti-democratic groups on the right and left. This included one Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party. When the Nazis finally assumed power, they not only used terror and violence, but also turned the laws and principles supposed to protect the democratic order in to weapons against democracy, paving the way for totalitarianism, war, and genocide. In this episode we will explore: How Weimar Germany abolished censorship and created a vibrant public sphere;How democracy was challenged by violent extremists on the political right and left;How Adolf Hitler viewed press freedom and free expression as corrosive principles which allowed “Poison to enter the national bloodstream and infect public life”;How Hitler used his devastating talent for public speaking to whip the crowds in Bavarian beer halls into a frenzy of hatred and become leader of the NSDAP;How Weimar authorities failed to enforce bans against violent paramilitary groups on the right; How Hitler and anti-Semitic Nazi newspapers like Der Stürmer and Der Angriff used bans against public speaking and punishments for speech crimes to gain propaganda victories and attract attention;How laws and emergency decrees to defend the republic led to increasingly draconian measures against the press, including 284 temporary bans of newspapers in Prussia alone, in 1932; How Hitler used the constitution and existing laws to suspend the freedoms of speech, assembly, and association and terrorize political opponents through violence and mass detentions without trial in concentration camps; How Hitler turned Germany into a one-party state in less than six months;How news laws turned any form of dissent, including jokes and rumours, into serious speech crimes;How Joseph Goebbels and his Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment ensured the complete...

Duration:01:03:10

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Episode 38 - The Totalitarian Temptation – Part I

1/15/2020
In George Orwell’s 1946 work, “The Prevention of Literature,” he wrote: [O]rganised lying … is … integral to totalitarianism, [and] would … continue even if concentration camps and secret police forces had ceased to be necessary. … A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. … Totalitarianism demands, in fact, the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth. As we shall see, the Orwellian diagnosis of totalitarianism was surgical in its precision. But despite the defeat of European communism, fascism, and Nazism, the dark and bloody past of totalitarianism still casts long shadows on European liberal democracies. On the one hand, freedom of expression is a foundational value ensuring the pluralism and autonomy that is anathema to totalitarianism. On the other hand many countries restrict free speech to safeguard against totalitarian propaganda aimed at undermining democracy. This raises the question: Should we be most afraid of totalitarian movements abusing free speech to abolish other freedoms and democracy, or of democracies abusing limits on free speech to silent dissent? In this first of a two-part episode on totalitarianism in Communist Russia, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany, we will focus on the rise of communism and Italian fascism and the effects of these ideologies on free expression. Hopefully this journey into the darkest of pasts will help shed light on how to grapple with one of democracy’s eternal and inevitable dilemmas: What should be the limits of free speech? In this episode we will explore: How Tsarist Russia was the last European great power to abolish preventive censorship;How the fall of the Tsarist regime led to a brief period of full press freedom;How, once in power, the very first legislative act of the Bolsheviks was to suppress the “bourgeois press” by closing down hundreds of publications and print shops; How Lenin and Trotsky defeated Bolshevik and socialist opponents who demanded an end to press censorship in revolutionary Russia;How Lenin combined suffocating censorship with terror against “class enemies”;How Stalin expanded Lenin’s repressive censorship machinery and radicalized the terror, killing millions of people; How Mussolini went from working as a socialist journalist to founding a fascist newspaper;How fascist violence and intimidation paved the way for Mussolini to assume power;How Mussolini combined censorship and propaganda to ensure ideological uniformity of the press;How fascist blackshirts and secret police kept political opponents cowed through surveillance, intimidation, and murder; andHow a novel on interracial love infuriated Mussolini and caused book censorship to be severely expanded. Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:52:12

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Episode 37 - Expert opinion: The History of Mass Surveillance, with Andreas Marklund

12/30/2019
In 2013 the NSA contractor Edward Snowden sent shockwaves through the American government when he leaked information exposing a number of vast mass surveillance programs providing the US Government and allies access to global digital communication networks. The harvesting of data has been aided by the vast data collection by big Tech Companies like Google and Facebook whose business model relies on knowing more about their users then their users know about themselves. The combination of state and corporate mass surveillance of the digital sphere has obvious consequences for both freedom of expression and information. Private conversations are rarely ever truly private and the centralization of communication platforms allows both governments and corporations to censor and control the flow of information. This development has changed public perception of the digital age from one of unlimited freedom, promise and possibilities to cynicism, fear and paranoia. But the age of mass surveillance was not ushered in with the Internet. In fact just as today mass surveillance was dominated by the leading liberal democracy of its day, when Great Britain laid the foundation at the outbreak of World War I. And as in the 21. century the issues that drove the push for mass surveillance and censorship at scale was national security and fears of extremism, disinformation and propaganda. With me to discuss the history of mass surveillance and its consequences for freedom of expression and information is Andreas Marklund who is the head of research at the ENIGMA Museum of Communication, in Copenhagen. In this conversation we will explore: Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:50:23

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Episode 36 - Expert opinion: Thomas Healy on how Oliver Wendell Holmes changed the history of free speech in America

12/19/2019
On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson, the newly elected president, gave his first inaugural address. Jefferson eloquently dismissed the logic behind the Sedition Act of 1798, which had sent Republican critics of then-Federalist President John Adams to prison: We are all republicans: we are all federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. Based on this strong commitment to a robust protection of free speech, one might have expected the First Amendment to play a key role in entrenching the Jeffersonian vision of free expression. But instead, it became an almost dead letter for more than a century until revived by an iconic but unlikely champion of the First Amendment: Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. In this conversation, professor Thomas Healy explains how Wendell Holmes changed his mind on free speech and laid the foundation for the current strong legal protection of the First Amendment. Thomas Healy is a professor of law at Seton Hall University School of Law and the author of the award-winning book “The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind--And Changed the History of Free Speech in America”. The conversation will explore: Why the First Amendment remained a dead letter in 19th century America.How Oliver Wendell Holmes’ background shaped his opinions and outlook.How Oliver Wendell Holmes long upheld a “Blackstonian” conception of free speech protecting only against prior restraints on, not subsequent punishments of, speech. How the Blackstonian conception of free speech permitted the federal and local governments to restrict and punish everything from peaceful public protests, obscenity, and political speech of “bad tendency.”How the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 led to dramatic restrictions of political speech and indictments of thousands of activists protesting American participation in World War I. The remarkable development in Wendell Holmes’ conception of the First Amendment, from his opinion upholding conviction in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States to his famous dissenting opinion in Abrams v. United States. How a number of young scholars like Learned Hand, Harold Laski, Zechariah Chafee, and Felix Frankfurter were instrumental in changing Wendell Holmes’ mind on the limits of free speech. How Oliver Wendell Holmes introduced the clear and present danger test, which would become an important test under First Amendment law over the coming decades.Whether Wendell Holmes’ legacy will endure in the 21st century, and would he even want it to in the digital age? Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:55:13

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Episode 35 - White Man´s Burden: Empire, Liberalism and Censorship

12/2/2019
During the mass protests that have rocked Hong Kong since June 2019 pro-democracy protestors have waved Union Jack flags and been singing God Save the Queen. A clear rejection of the authoritarian political system of mainland China in favor of the political system inherited from the British colonial past based on the rule of law and political liberties including freedom of the press. The symbolic value of the pro-British sentiments of Hong Kong´s protestors would not be lost on Britain´s imperial masterminds and administrators. Many of whom thought that empire and liberalism went hand in hand. In a combination of genuine goodwill and blatant ethnocentrism, the British colonizers took on the burden of civilizing the world and ensuring that the sun would never set on press freedom. But the actual practice of British colonialism was very different from the idealized version dreamt up by English liberal imperialists and modern Hong Kong protestors. Colonial officials were more than willing to use censorship and repression when news and ideas were thought to threaten British interests in places like Hong Kong, India and Africa. The laws and practices that they used for those purposes not only stifled criticism of colonialism but also did so on the basis of crude racial and ethnic prejudices. This created a parallel system of censorship and repression that severely undermined the liberal credentials of Britain and included victims like Mahatma Gandhi and the Kenyan activist Harry Thuku. And as we shall see the British legacy of censorship and repression still shapes the climate for free speech in some former colonies. Much the same schizophrenia characterized France´s colonial empire supposedly built on its commitment to universal human rights stretching back to the Declaration of the Rights of Man. A commitment that became difficult to sustain when the colonized insisted that freedom and imperialism was incompatible. In this episode, we´ll see how British and French colonial authorities struggled to reconcile their commitment to liberalism with colonial empire and How the British crafted an Indian Penal Code that criminalized sedition, communal hate speech and blasphemyHow prominent Indian nationalists likeBal Gangadhar Tilakand Mahatma Gandhi were convicted of seditionHow Gandhi gave a stirring defense of the fundamental value of free speech when tried for seditionHow Indians in East Africa collaborated with Africans in spreading anti-colonial dissent in Indian owned newspapers and publications,How African nationalists protesting racist policies and exploitation were exiled by the British How British West Africa developed a free and thriving press until British repression in the 1930s How the British introduced preventive censorship in Hong Kong during World War 1 How the British maintained a separate system of preventive censorship of Chinese language newspapers in Hong Kong even after the war,How the British adopted special censorship guidelines for cinema based on crude racial and ethnic considerationsHow Chinese language newspapers mounted a principled defense of press freedom in Hong Kong,How the French in Indochina (Vietnam) went from tolerance to active repression of local newspapers,How African activists were exiled to the “Dry Guillotine” of the Mauritanian desert when protesting French rule Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at...

Duration:00:54:09

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Episode 34 – The Age of Reaction: The fall and rise of free speech in 19th century Europe

11/21/2019
The 18th century ended with free speech in full retreat. With the French Revolution, the call for “Enlightenment Now!” was no longer seen as the harbinger of humanity’s inevitable march toward progress. It had become synonymous with radical forces of destruction drowning monarchy, tradition, and religion in the blood of kings, aristocrats, and nuns. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, conservatives and monarchs were firmly back in power — and they had no intention of letting go. Never again were those rulers who put down wild-eyed revolutionaries like mad dogs going to allow radicals to seduce the people with lofty principles and propaganda. In order to rebuild a stabile Europe with respect for authority and tradition, freedom of speech had to be reined in. Even in supposedly liberal Britain, William Pitt’s anti-revolutionary “reign of terror” of the 1790s was revived and intensified in the 1810s and 20s. In this episode, we see how European rulers weaved an intricate web of censorship and repression across the continent. We will see: Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:01:04:11

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Special Edition - A conversation with Professor David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur

10/28/2019
In this special edition of Clear And Present Danger we leave the past and jump into the present for a discussion on how international human rights standards are relevant to the burning question of where to draw the limits of free speech online". With me to discuss this issue is Professor David Kaye, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as a professor of law at the University of California, Irvine. Professor Kaye is also the author of the recent book “Speech Police”. On Oct. 21, David Kaye presented a report to the UN General Assembly that attempts to provide guidance to both states and tech companies on how to safeguard online free expression while minimizing harms. The conversation delves into questions such as:

Duration:00:49:39

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Episode 33 - Counter-Revolution: Dutch Patriots, Tom Paine´s Rights of Man and the campaign against Seditious Writings

10/18/2019
Faced with bloody terrorism democratic Europe has often reacted with tough measures. The UK Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act of 2019 criminalizes expressing an opinion that is “supportive” of a proscribed organization if done in a way that is “reckless” as to whether it encourages support of terrorism. This makes it rather unnerving to jump into, for example, a Twitter thread on the age-old discussion of whether various groups are terrorists or freedom fighters. In this episode we’ll see how governments in the late 18th century reacted to a different kind of terror: the spread of revolutionary ideas and practice that shook the established order to the ground, including the actual Terror unleashed after the French Revolution spiraled out of control. Dutch “Patriots” took their cue from the American Revolution, using freedom of speech and hard-hitting newspapers to hammer away at the Stadtholder regime. How would the supposedly liberal and tolerant Dutch react when revolutionary ideas hit fever pitch in the 1780s. In Britain, a pamphlet war between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine unleashed an unprecedented discussion of first principles that energized the lower classes and frightened the government. Could Britain maintain the delicate balance between order and liberty while holding at bay both revolutionary ideas and armies of France? In this episode, we will discuss: How the Dutch “Patriot” movement used free speech and partisan newspapers to press for democratic reform and toleranceHow the pamphlet “To the People of the Netherlands” became a rallying cry of the Patriot side How the Stadtholder regime used repression and ultimately foreign invasion to silence the Patriots,How the French Revolution briefly brought free speech and democracy back with the establishment of the Batavian RepublicHow Burkes “Reflections on the Revolution in France” unleashed a British pamphlet war for and against the principles of the French RevolutionHow Thomas Paine´s reply to Burke - “Rights of Man” - became the world's highest selling book and spread the idea of democratic reform to the masses How Prime Minister William Pitt responded by increasing repression of freedom of speech and assembly How the “Royal Proclamation Against Seditious Writings and Publications” unleashed a witch hunt for members of the democratic reform movement How Tom Paine became an enemy of the state, under constant surveillance, convicted of seditious libel and burned in effigy in towns all over Britain Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:42:37

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Episode 32 - Policing opinion in the French Revolution with Charles Walton

9/28/2019
On Aug. 26, 1789, France’s National Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Article 11 of the Declaration proclaimed: The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law. The French Revolution abolished pre-publication censorship and prompted a flood of political publications. But revolutionaries were deeply divided over where to draw the line between the declaration’s celebration of “freedom” and condemnation of “abuse” amidst a public sphere in which populists used increasingly incendiary rhetoric to sow division and discord. Old Regime concepts of honor, calumny, and libel survived the Revolution and evolved to justify the policing of opinions perceived to threaten the order and authority of post-revolutionary France, increasingly divided by competing factions. Ultimately, even liberals like Tom Paine — an ardent defender of the integrity and benevolence of the Revolution — had to succumb to the idea of political suppression as the Reign of Terror claimed thousands of victims condemned for speech crimes. In this conversation, French Revolution expert Charles Walton sheds light on the evolution of press freedom and suppression during the Revolution. Walton is the director of the Early Modern and Eighteenth Century Centre at the University of Warwick in the U.K., has taught at both Yale University and Paris’ Sciences Po, and is the author of the prize-winning book, “Policing Public Opinion in the French Revolution: The Culture of Calumny and the Problem of Free Speech.” The conversation will explore: How the French Revolution abolished pre-publication censorship and unleashed a flood of publications;How almost all parts of French society continued to believe in Old Regime restrictions on post-publication censorship;How Jacobins, including Maximilien Robespierre, were amongst the most libertarian proponents of free speech in the early part of the Revolution;How the climate of free speech under the French Revolution compares to the climate during and after the American Revolution;How free speech restrictions became a tool of bitter political partisans;How approximately a third of those indicted by revolutionary tribunals during the Terror were targeted for speech crimes, resulting in thousands of executions;How the French feminist and author of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman, Olympe de Gouges, became a prominent victim of the Revolution; How the legal restrictions on free speech were tightened after the Terror;Whether the ideas of Rousseau contributed to the Terror;How competing ideas of free speech and mores stretching back to the Enlightenment help explain contemporary France’s complicated relationship with free speech. Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:01:04:07

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Episode 31 - The Old Regime

9/12/2019
In Nov. 2018, French President Emanuel Macron declared war on “offensive and hateful content” on the internet. Subsequently, France adopted strict laws against both online hate speech and fake news, which is thought to threaten France’s liberal democratic values. But this is not the first time in history that France has sought to combat supposedly “dangerous content” spread by clandestine networks intent on undermining essential values and moeurs. When Paris became the capital of the High-Enlightenment around the mid-eighteenth century, the Old Regime monarchy created a Maginot Line of overlapping pre- and post-publication censorship. This system was intended to ensure that good books were encouraged and privileged while bad books that attacked the monarchy and Catholic orthodoxy or morals were kept out of circulation or suppressed. Just as French regulators today may struggle to distinguish between hate and political speech, it was not easy to draw the line between useful new ideas and subversive philosophy in a society in flux. As Enlightenment ideas took hold and literacy increased, a public sphere emerged from under the shadow of royal absolutism and strict religious orthodoxy. In this sphere, Enlightenment philosophers like Voltaire and Diderot fought to expand the limits of tolerance and free speech, while counter-enlightenment anti-philosophers tried to stem the rising tide of what they saw as godless sedition. Each faction tried to exert decisive influence over the institutions of the Old Regime and land the decisive blow in the battle over the public sphere shaping French mores. The stakes were high and the outcome uncertain. But perhaps the events of pre-revolutionary France may help explain why even today the democratically elected president of France has taken the lead in fighting the nebulous concept of “offensive and hateful content.” In this episode, we will explore: How salons, cafés, and an increase in literacy and print created a new public sphereThe ins and outs of pre-and post-publication censorship in the Old RegimeHow censorship and book monopolies created a booming black market, flooding France with philosophy and pornography How a culture of honor limited free expression How royal censors both furthered and frustrated the efforts of Enlightenment authors How a group of radical Enlightenment philosophers challenged religious and moral authorities from the Salon of Baron D’Holbach and through the pages of the Encyclopédie — a bold and subversive attempt to compile all the knowledge in the worldHow France’s chief censor saved the Encylopédie from destruction and ensured its eventual triumph How a 19-year-old teenager became the last person to be executed for blasphemy in FranceHow French philosophers including Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire failed to formulate a coherent and robust free speech doctrine Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:01:05:50

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Episode 30 - Northern Lights, The Scandinavian Press Freedom Breakthrough

8/23/2019
In the 1760s and 1770s, Sweden and Denmark-Norway shortly became the epicenter of press freedom protections in Enlightenment Europe. In 1766, the Swedish Diet passed the Press Freedom Act, making Sweden the first country in the world to provide constitutional protection to both the principles of press freedom and freedom of information. In 1770, Denmark-Norway, under the de-facto rule of German physician Johan Friedrich Struensee, became the first country in the world to abolish any and all restrictions on press freedom. Almost overnight, both Sweden and Denmark-Norway experienced a new vibrant public sphere with debate, discussion and trolling. But in 1772, King Gustav III ended Sweden’s so-called Age of Liberty — and with it, the era of the liberal press. That same year, Struensee lost not only his power, but his hands, legs — and head — as he was dismembered and ousted in a coup that severely restricted press freedom. But how did Sweden and Denmark-Norway become trailblazers of press freedom, if only for the briefest of time? Find out in this episode where we explore: Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:53:10

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Episode 29 - The Philosopher King - Enlightened Despotism, part 2, Prussia

8/2/2019
In his famous essay “What is Enlightenment?” the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant declared: “[E]nlightenment requires nothing but freedom … to make public use of one’s reason in all matters. Now I hear the cry from all sides: ‘Do not argue!’ … Only one ruler in the world says: ‘Argue as much as you please, but obey!’” That ruler was Frederick the Great — and his influence was not lost on Kant. “[T]his age is the age of enlightenment,” Kant declared. “[T]he century of Frederick.” Frederick the Great ruled Prussia from 1740 to 1786 and launched a blitzkrieg of Enlightenment reforms impacting religious tolerance and freedom of speech. He was hailed as a philosopher king by Voltaire and gave refuge to scandalous writers who had been persecuted around Europe. But his rule was erratic, and often Absolutism would trump Enlightenment ideals. In this episode, we cover Frederick the Great’s reign and his attitude and policies towards freedom of thought and the press. Topics include: Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:49:23

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Episode 28 - Writing on Human Skin - Enlightened Despotism, part I, Russia

7/12/2019
The Enlightenment´s emphasis on science, progress, tolerance and rationality not only attracted philosophers. Even absolute monarchs dreamt of “Enlightenment Now.” But how do you combine enlightenment without undermining the traditions and ideas that legitimate absolute rule in the first place? Fortunately for Europe´s modernizing rulers, some of Europe´s most prominent 18th century philosophes – including Voltaire - stood ready to praise and legitimize the new winds of “enlightened despotism” that took hold in places like Russia and Prussia. In this episode, we cover the ground zero of enlightened despotism: Russia. A country whose Tsar Peter the Great, according to Voltaire, single-handedly dragged across both time and place from the Dark Ages and Asia into the 18th century and Europe. Among the topics tackled are: How the benefits of modern science, learning and the fresh air of religious tolerance attracted Peter the Great.How Peter the Great believed in “move fast and break tradition” and combined enlightenment reforms with ruthless suppressionHow Peter kicked off his modernizing reform with a fashion statement ordering men to shave their beards and women to dress like ParisiansHow Peter´s reforms planted the seed for more liberal Enlightenment reformsHow Catherine the Great, introduced the idea and principle of freedom of speech into Russia´s deeply traditional cultureHow Catherine modelled her “Great Instruction” on the ideas of Montesquieu and Beccaria and corresponded with thinkers like Voltaire, Diderot, and D´Alembert.How Catherine reversed her course and tightened censorshipHow the French Revolution caused Catherine to crack down on radical Russian writers like Alexander Radischev and Nikolay NovikovHow Alexander Radischev used relied on “freedom of the press as the great bulwark of liberty” to write the most radical and robust defense of free speech in Russian history. Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:01:01:45

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Episode 27 - How Enlightening

6/21/2019
data-contrast="auto">After a brief detour into the present, we return to Ground Zero of the Enlightenment in 18th century Europe, with this recap of past episodes and a brief overview of the themes and countries to be explored in the upcoming episodes as rationality and secularization sweep the continent turning tradition and authority upside down. Among others we touch upon: Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

Duration:00:40:30