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Cartoons and Free Speech: At the intersection of Democracy, Multiculturalism, and Individual Rights

Dean Robert C. Post & Professor Joseph Carens

Thursday, February 16, 20112
12:10–1:45 pm   (Lunch Provided)
Room 120, Yale Law School  


The display in a Danish newspaper of cartoon depictions of Mohammed led to rioting around the world. That event shines a light on an enduring and difficult question: In a multi-religious world, what is the appropriate relationship between multicultural ideals and free speech? How should the law mediate between the demands of religious sanctity and freedom of speech? Should lawyers and legislators take ethical as well as legal considerations into account? To what extent is free speech—even offensive or potentially dangerous speech—vital to the functioning of true democracy? And if some deem speech to offend religious sensibilities, whom ought a democracy to take to represent that religion?

Robert C. Post
Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, Yale Law School, and author of Democracy, Expertise, Academic Freedom:  A First Amendment Jurisprudence for the Modern State

Joseph Carens
Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, and author of Culture, Citizenship, and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness

(Email for readings on the debate’s topic.)