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Lives in the Law | Christopher Finan: How Free Speech Saved Democracy

Lives in the Law | Christopher Finan: How Free Speech Saved Democracy



This series brings together noted figures in the world of law – lawyers, professors, scholars, historians, journalists, and activists – to join in dialogue about law and its significance, past and present. Join us for a conversation with Christopher M. Finan, author of How Free Speech Saved Democracy: The Untold History of How the First Amendment Became an Essential Tool for Securing Liberty and Social Justice. Ronald Collins, a retired law professor and the Library’s first Distinguished Lecturer, will host the session, which is meant for laypersons and specialists alike.

Free speech is not an obstacle to change: it is the way change happen.

How Free Speech Saved Democracy is a revealing reminder First Amendment rights have often been curtailed in efforts to block progress, and current measures to reduce hurtful language and to end hate speech could backfire on those who promote them. Written by a historian who became a full-time defender of civil liberties and has spent four decades advocating for the rights of victims of censorship, this book grew out of Finan’s desire to address the declining support for free speech occurring as our country becomes increasingly polarized. Through his evocative storytelling Finan demonstrates how the most effective antidote for the growth of hate speech and violence is support for and cultivation of the robust alternative of free speech.

Christopher M. Finan has been involved in the fight against censorship for 35 years. He is executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the former president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. After working as a newspaper reporter, he studied American history at Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1992. He is the author of Alfred E. Smith: The Happy Warrior, Drunks: An American History, and From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America, winner of the American Library Association’s Eli M. Oboler Award.

Ronald Collins is the former Harold S. Shefelman scholar at the University of Washington Law School. He served as a Supreme Court fellow for Chief Justice Warren Burger. He is the editor of the weekly blog First Amendment News and is on the editorial board of SCOTUSblog. He is also the co-chair of The First Amendment Salons and the co-director of the History Book Festival. He is the author of some dozen books.

We invite you to support the author by purchasing a copy of the book from our local independent bookstore, Browseabout Books, by clicking HERE. Call-in orders are accepted or you can stop by the store to purchase a copy. For store hours, please visit their website. Each copy purchased comes with a signed archival bookplate.

NOTE: this meeting is being conducted through Zoom. You MUST REGISTER to receive instructions for joining the meeting.

If you have need assistance with registration or getting your Zoom invitation, please email us.

Basic written instructions for using Zoom may be found here and a brief video tutorial may be found here. Closed captioning is available for all our sessions. Information on enabling closed captioning in Zoom may be found here.

This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
5:00pm - 6:00pm Eastern Time
Lewes Public Library
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