Radiolab Presents More Perfect Live: The First Amendment in the Digital Age

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

(Radiolab's More Perfect)

Should you be able to say and do whatever you want online? And if not, who should police this?

Jad Abumrad of Radiolab and More Perfect hosted a debate about online hate speech, fake news and whether the First Amendment needs an update for the digital age.

He was joined live at The Greene Space at WNYC by Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation; Elie Mystal, managing editor at Above the Law and contributing legal editor at More Perfect; and Ken White, a First Amendment litigator and criminal defense attorney at Brown White & Osborn LLP in Los Angeles who also runs the free speech and criminal justice blog Popehat.com, where he often coordinates pro bono defense for First Amendment cases.  

NOTE: Because of the topic for the night, this discussion will include disturbing images and language, such as religious, ethnic and gender slurs and profanity. We are preserving this content so that our audience can understand the nature of this speech.

Guests:

Corynne McSherry, Elie Mystal and Ken White

Hosted by:

Jad Abumrad

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Comments [8]

Not a millennial from Lambertville, NJ

Interesting podcast. No one in the debate brought up the point that people have the choice to participate in social media or not. If enough people stop participating or switch platforms, it is likely to get the attention of the company. It doesn't mean that hate speech etc. doesn't still continue, it is just a way to participate in the issue differently, without the inevitable over reaction and yelling on FB, twitter, etc.

Nov. 19 2017 10:52 PM
Kurt Peterson from Denver

In the second part of the debate, I was increasingly turned off by arguments which increasingly became a distilled entertaining simplification of the facts with intent to inflame.
Calls to splinter sections of our society away from the main are harmful whether they come from progressives or conservatives. It was striking how often Elie's rhetorical strategies remind me of our dogmatic Commander in Chief.
Hate can't beat hate.

Nov. 14 2017 02:05 PM
Jonathan Harms from Minnesota

Longtime listener (and lover) of both Radiolab and More Perfect. I was disappointed by this episode - I rely on your shows for opening my mind to new narratives with thoughtful commentary. I go to these podcasts to escape the facebook shouting match, not to get another dose of the same, angry arguments.

I want to be more open to Elie Mystal's arguments (or at least to understand them more empathetically), but found myself more certain of my own position instead. Radiolab is a place where I look for the right questions to ask, not to be more certain of my own answers.

The recent Radiolab episode "Match Made in Marrow" provides an interesting study in contrasts. I came away feeling less sure about the way we have discourse, and gave me several questions about how I can be more grace-filled. It's like the difference between debate and dialectics. Hoping for more of the latter.

Nov. 14 2017 01:31 PM
Devonne from NYC

I would naturally agree with Elie Mystal's side, but he is shrill to the point that it decreases his effectiveness. Also, he misspeaks (I think) when he is laying into "white people" and says that gay people don't have to play educator to white people about not being homophobic. It came out as fantastically racist. I'm hoping he knows better. I'm black, and have experienced that black people, especially back men, are incredibly homophobic.

Nov. 13 2017 12:01 AM
Antonio from Paterson, NJ

Just listened to this on the More Perfect podcast. I gotta say I was disappointed in Elie's argument. I was on his side but found him unconvincing, particularly in the second debate.

I would've pointed out that social media is different from most other forms of debate. That people can (and do) misrepresent themselves ("On the internet no one knows you're a dog"). That five anonymous comments could all come from the same person, who's deliberately trying to distort a debate. That while Facebook can delete posts that call for violence, a hateful Facebook group still creates a general atmosphere of racial antipathy that can lead someone to commit atrocities.

Really the debate about social media was kind of moot, considering Facebook and Twitter already delete posts they consider "hate speech". And does anyone honestly think that if some guy commits an atrocity and it turns out that he was actively involved in hateful Facebook groups that Facebook will throw theirs hands up and say "free speech"?

Also many European countries do ban hate speech and their democracies seem to be functioning just fine. I would've loved to hear someone discuss that.

Nov. 08 2017 11:14 PM
Squirel Killer from Iowa

The idea that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc... can afford to pay people to moderate comments is deeply ignorant of the scale of the task.

Sep. 06 2017 11:45 PM
ertdfg from Colorado

Ideas can be true or false?
Great.
What is the correct religion? We'll ban ALL the other ones, because we found the person who knows which ideas are correct and which ones are false.

What? Offensive and bigoted? No!
We KNOW the ideas that are true or false; only ONE religion can be accurate; the others must be false.
Why not ban all the false ones?

Gay marriage 30 years ago? False. Now? True.
So you MUST have the correct changing view in a changing world; and be punished for ever having had the wrong view; even plausibly at a time when the answer was in flux?

When the answer is "True" in California and "False" in Nebraska, are both states correct for arresting people who dissent with the "True" view?
Oh, only your standard should matter?
Sorry, the people in California or Nebraska think their standard is all that should matter... I think they shouldn't arrest people for having the "wrong" view.
Which is clearly the "wrong" view somewhere.

I'm glad it's not the "wrong" standard here.

Sep. 06 2017 08:43 PM
Scott Jacobs from Texas

Why is Karl Rove on stage?

Sep. 06 2017 07:14 PM

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