New York law school professor discusses free speech and censorship with LHS students

Nadine Strossen will speak tonight at the free E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues at the Lied Center


Nadine Strossen discusses issues such human rights in relation to the Constitution, freedom of speech, and censorship. She addresses all of these topics in her book, “Hate; Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship”. Photo by Greg Keller

By Angel Tran and Emily Price

Nadine Strossen, a professor at the New York Law School in Manhattan, New York, made a visit to Lincoln High School to speak to selected LHS students regarding hate speech, freedom of speech and the press, and censorship.  Organized by IB Coordinator, JP Caruso, students gathered in the Ted Sorensen Theatre to listen to Strossen discuss the importance of using your freedom of speech, which is protected by the Constitution, to retaliate against hate speech and censorship.

Nadine Strossen speaks to a crowd of Lincoln High Students on November 7th, 2018. Strossen was president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from 1991 until 2008, and she is currently a law professor at the New York Law School.
Photo by Emily Price

“Government doesn’t give you your rights, being a human does,” Strossen said.  “Government’s job is to enforce those rights and secure them.”

Strossen is a Harvard University graduate as well as the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from 1991 until 2008, acting as a lawyer, speaker, and a frequent public commentator. She is also a member of the National Youth Rights Association Advisory Board and a founding member of Feminists for Free Expression.

“We need people who are willing to stand up for their rights and to demand that their government respects those rights!” Strossen said. “It is [a] mere parchment barrier between government views and the people. It’s only worth the words it is written on unless there are people who are willing to stand up for their rights and to demand that the government respects those rights.”

During her speech, Strossen addressed the importance of diversity in not just cultural background, but also in regards to diversity in thought.

“We are seeing a rise of hatred, not just because of who you are, but also on the basis of what you believe,” Strossen said. It will really enrich your life if you mingle people who are different than you.”

Following her speech, Strossen opened up the floor to students to ask questions.  During the session, Senior Ian Harding asked, “What would you say to young people who believe that they shouldn’t get involved into politics because they cannot vote?

“Short of the right to vote, there are many of other reasons to pay attention to politics,” Strossen responded. “Having a potential impact on it in terms of having a direct impact on it.  You can also influence other people to vote–there’s no age limit!”

Strossen also offered suggestions to young people of how their voice can impact politics.  Senior Emily Price asked, “How do young people get their voices and opinions taken seriously when many adults do not, because of our age?”

Nadine Strossen takes questions from the audience while she speaks to Lincoln High students in the Ted Sorensen Theatre on November 7th, 2018. She answered regarding hate speech and the most efficient ways that young people can get involved in politics.
Photo by Emily Price

“You can write letters to the newspaper, many of you are publishing your own newspaper,” Strossen replied, “You can write letters and have meetings with elected representatives or appointed officials on all levels of government from local to the school board, all the way to United States Congress…the only thing I can do that you cannot is vote!  However, you can advocate for that too.”

During her time, Strossen emphasized the importance of people’s right to express their beliefs and fight for their constitutional rights.

You have the right not to remain silent,” Strossen said.  “Please exercise it.”

Strossen will be speaking at the Lied Center tonight at 7:00 PM.  The talk is FREE and open to the public. Find directions here.