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So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast


So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through personal stories and candid conversations. New episodes post every other Thursday.

So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through personal stories and candid conversations. New episodes post every other Thursday.


Philadelphia, PA


So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through personal stories and candid conversations. New episodes post every other Thursday.






Ep. 170 Free speech and the American Founding

This Saturday, Sept. 17, is Constitution Day. It was on this day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed America’s Constitution. And while the First Amendment was not ratified until 1791, discussions over the role of free speech and expression in a democratic society were alive long before then. Pepperdine University professor and author Gordon Lloyd joins the show this week to explore how the American conception of free speech came to be, from the colonial era to the...

Ep. 169 The Art of Insubordination

What can Charles Darwin teach us about dissent? What do the professional basketball careers of Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry tell us about conventional wisdom? On today’s show, George Mason University Professor Todd Kashdan helps us understand the value of principled dissent: what it is, how to do it, and the pitfalls to avoid. He is the author of “The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively.” Show notes: TranscriptTodd’s “Provoked” newsletter: “Enjoy new...

Ep. 168 Assassin’s veto comes for Rushdie

Last week, a would-be assassin attacked Salman Rushdie, author of “The Satanic Verses,” in an apparent attempt to carry out the infamous fatwa placed on Rushdie’s life. Fortunately, Rushdie survived the attack. Vice News Tonight correspondent and “The Fifth Column” podcast co-host Michael Moynihan joins the show to discuss what happened, what it means for free speech, and the history of “The Satanic Verses” controversy. Show notes: TranscriptLara Bazelon’s keynote address at FIRE’s 2022...


Ep. 167 That Facebook post about abortion could land you in jail

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States, many people expected states to pass laws restricting access to abortion services. Perhaps less expected was that some lawmakers now seek to pass laws restricting — and criminalizing — speech about abortion services. FIRE Legal Director Will Creeley and FIRE Senior Fellow and former ACLU President Nadine Strossen join the show to discuss their recent essay, “That Facebook...


Ep. 166 Substack, a platform for free speech?

Substack — the popular newsletter and publishing service — has made a name for itself by swimming against the current: As many technology companies devise new ways to censor or moderate content on their platforms, Substack made free speech one of its core values and, in doing so, has attracted bloggers and journalists from across the political spectrum. “While we have content guidelines that allow us to protect the platform at the extremes, we will always view censorship as a last resort,...


Ep. 165 Title IX gets twisted again

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education proposed new Title IX regulations that, if implemented, would gut essential free speech and due process rights for college students facing sexual misconduct allegations on campus. Joining us to analyze the regulations and their impact are FIRE’s executive director and author of the book “Twisting Title IX,” Robert Shibley, Allen Harris Law Partner Samantha Harris, and Brooklyn College professor KC Johnson. Show notes: FIRE press release...


Ep. 164 ‘The First Amendment created gay America’

“Every advance gay people have made in this country has been the result of the exercise of free expression,” argues writer James Kirchick, author of the New York Times bestseller, “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington.” Transcript: YouTube: Twitter: Facebook:...


Ep. 163 The new FIRE

Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights *in Education* becomes the Foundation for Individual Rights *and Expression*. America’s leading defender of free speech, due process, and academic freedom in higher education announced it is taking its free speech mission beyond college campuses with a $75 million expansion initiative. FIRE President & CEO Greg Lukianoff and FIRE COO Alisha Glennon join the show to discuss how the organization is changing and...


Ep. 162 “Parental Advisory” and music censorship with Eric Nuzum

In this week’s episode of So to Speak, we focus on some of the notable cases of music censorship in America, the formation of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), and the lasting effects of the PMRC’s efforts on the music industry. Author Eric Nuzum joins us to discuss his 2001 book, “Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America.” Nuzum illustrates examples of music censorship ranging from the Reconstruction era, when Southerners were prevented from publicly singing pro-Confederate...


Ep. 161 What did ‘On the Media’ get wrong about free speech … again?

Twitter is going to become 8chan. At least, that’s what a recent episode of the popular radio program “On the Media” suggests will happen if Elon Musk successfully buys Twitter. Musk promised to bring greater free speech protections to the social media platform. But where Musk sees an opportunity for more freedom, some see the potential for too much freedom. On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, Matt Taibbi, Nadine Strossen, and Amna Khalid discuss what “On the Media”...


Ep. 160 Hugh Hefner, free speech scrapbooker

Did you know Hugh Hefner holds the Guinness World Record for owning the largest personal scrapbook collection in the world? When he was not building the global Playboy empire, he spent his Saturdays compiling more than 3,000 scrapbooks, chronicling free speech and press issues during his lifetime. Stuart N. Brotman, professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was granted exclusive access to Hefner’s scrapbooks. On today’s episode, he talks about what he found and about his new...


Ep. 159 Disney and Elon Musk

Does Disney have free speech rights? And did Florida violate the First Amendment when it punished the company for its political activism? Elon Musk is buying Twitter. What should free speech advocates make of that? Recurring guest and famed First Amendment scholar Robert Corn-Revere is here to break it all down for us. He’s a partner at the law firm Davis Wright-Tremaine, a member of FIRE’s Advisory Council, and the author of “The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder: The First...


Ep. 158 What is academic freedom?

What is academic freedom? And who polices its boundaries? Our guests on today’s show argue that the popular conception of academic freedom has become too closely connected with the concept of free speech. Penn State Professor Michael Bérubé and Portland State Professor Jennifer Ruth are the authors of “It’s Not Free Speech: Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom.” Show notes: TranscriptThe AAUP’s 1915and 1940statements on academic freedomThe AAUP’s “On Freedom of Expression...


Ep. 157 Former BBC bureau chief Konstantin Eggert and what you need to know about censorship in Russia

Konstantin Eggert, a native Muscovite, has reported on Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. He started his reporting career in Moscow in 1990. From 1998-2009, he was senior correspondent, then editor-in-chief, of the BBC Russian Service Moscow bureau. Later he worked for ExxonMobil Russia and Russian media outlets, Kommersant and TV Rain. Now, living in Lithuania, Eggert is a vocal critic of the Putin regime and has more than a few thoughts on censorship in Russia: specifically, how...


Ep. 156 What Russians don’t know about the war in Ukraine ​

​​The Russian government has purged independent media, banned protests, and shut down social media access. So, do Russians know the truth about the war in Ukraine? Ksenia Turkova is a journalist from Russia who currently works for Voice of America. Before coming to the United States she worked for a number of Russian news outlets, including some that were shut down by the Russian government. She also spent time as a radio host in Ukraine. On today’s episode of “So to Speak: The Free Speech...


Ep. 155 The John Roberts Supreme Court

​​“No chief justice in our history has had as much influence on the law of freedom of expression as John Roberts,” according to Ronald K.L. Collins and David L. Hudson Jr. They are the authors of a new Brooklyn Law Review article, “The Roberts Court—Its First Amendment Free Expression Jurisprudence: 2005–2021.” On today’s episode of “So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast,” Collins and Hudson review 58 First Amendment rulings that have been issued since John Roberts became Chief Justice of...


Ep. 154 Sarah Palin v. New York Times

On today’s episode of “So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast,” we are joined by Robert Corn-Revere and David Hudson to discuss Sarah Palin v. New York Times, a defamation case that has captured national attention. Corn-Revere is a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and the author of the new book, “The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder.” Hudson is the Justice Robert H. Jackson legal fellow at FIRE and a professor at Belmont University College of Law. Transcript: ...


Ep. 153 Elitist vs. egalitarian free speech (live recording, Q&A)

On today’s episode, we feature a live recording of “So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast” with Jacob Mchangama, author of “Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media,” in conversation with FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff, Sarah McLaughlin, host Nico Perrino, and NYU professor Stephen D. Solomon. The panelists discuss how lessons from free speech movements throughout world history can help explain today’s divisions over the value of free speech, and how conflicts between egalitarian and...


Ep. 152 Banning critical race theory

On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we are joined by FIRE’s Joe Cohn and the American Enterprise Institute’s Max Eden to debate and discuss legislative efforts to ban critical race theory, or so-called “divisive concepts,” from being taught in schools. Transcript Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order on critical race theory “Ban Critical Race Theory now”by Max Eden “Legislative efforts to address teachings on race pose threats to academic freedom”by Joe Cohn...


Ep. 151 Fighting words

There are very few exceptions to the First Amendment. “Fighting words” is one of them. But since the Supreme Court first outlined this exception in 1942, it hasn’t shown much interest in revisiting the issue. On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we’re joined by First Amendment scholar and FIRE Legal Fellow David L. Hudson Jr., who argues the “fighting words” doctrine is still alive and well in lower courts and is used to justify punishing everything from toilet...