Here’s what three-time Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, who as “The Hulk” plays a prominent role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, posted on Twitter (now X) in 2021:
“I have reflected & wanted to apologize for posts during the recent Israel/Hamas fighting that suggested Israel is committing ‘genocide.’ It’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful & is being used to justify antisemitism here & abroad. Now is the time to avoid hyperbole.”
Continue reading “Soundbite-Happy Media Get ‘Genocide’ Wrong”
The new PBS “American Masters” documentary, Floyd Abrams: Speaking Freely, chronicles legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams. It largely focuses on the amazing trajectory of his career in this vital area of constitutional law.
As a young law firm associate on Wall Street, Abrams was a pivotal member of the legal team that successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that the national security concerns advanced by the U.S. Department of Justice did not justify a publication prior restraint of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times.
Continue reading “The Important Formative Years of a Legendary First Amendment Advocate “
The modern norm of televised presidential debates may not survive our highly polarized political environment, unless a new action plan is established soon to ensure this staple of American electoral life continues in 2024.
In 1960, on a one-time-only basis, Congress enabled the historic Kennedy-Nixon debates to take place. The law it suspended – Section 315(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, which required “equal opportunities” for all candidates – subsequently resumed in full force. As a result, there were no presidential debates in 1964, 1968, or 1972.
Continue reading “U.S. Needs an Urgent Action Plan To Save Presidential Debates”
With the beginning of the college academic year, those of us teaching this fall are drafting various course syllabi – seeing what might be worth revisiting, such as new readings that might be added.
But all too often, the upfront syllabus boilerplate sections are overlooked since they are cut and pasted from previous versions of the same course or similar ones. Unfortunately, a section dealing with free expression in the classroom is missing in many.
Continue reading “Explicitly Addressing College Self-Censorship in the New Academic Year”
In our age of hyper-partisan politics, one area that seems to be attracting notable bipartisan congressional concern, including various potential legislative approaches, is the real-time development and implementation of artificial intelligence. AI’s reach across many economic sectors and its effect on education, medical research, and national security poses complex legal, social, and moral questions that need to be addressed.
The Senate’s hearings in May clearly demonstrated that Democrats and Republicans were eager to learn more. As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) noted, “We could be looking at one of the most significant technological innovations in human history.” At the other end of the political spectrum, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) clearly agreed with Hawley’s assessment regarding what is at stake. “The magnitude of the challenge … is substantial. I’m not sure that we respond quickly and with enough expertise to deal with it.”
Continue reading “Congress Needs Real Intelligence To Address Artificial Intelligence”
A major COVID-19 milestone was achieved last month that indicates the downward infection and hospitalization rates caused by it have now receded to justify dropping its designation as an active pandemic. The United States ended its federal Public Health Emergency on May 11 and used that announcement to herald the incredible national effort regarding testing, vaccines, and treatment.
Of course, given recent history, there is a high likelihood that another global pandemic looms. In light of the enormous difficulties nations worldwide faced in developing effective COVID-19 coordinated responses, the task ahead will be equally formidable – namely, how to mitigate massive public health threats in a timely and effective way.
Continue reading “Media and Other Stakeholders Should Have a Role in Future Pandemic Planning”
The recent passing of Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore at age 94 has brought back well-deserved stories about how this tech legend played a leading role in developing silicon microprocessors, which served as the foundation for the exponential growth of our modern computer age. But this Big Bang in Silicon Valley was preceded by a series of events that created the environment that allowed Moore and his brilliant colleagues – notably Intel co-founder Robert Noyce – to achieve the technological breakthroughs that have changed the world.
Silicon Valley is a noted center of technological advancement and entrepreneurship, achieving innovations that have left lasting and unmatched imprints on society, here and abroad. Its centrality to such developments as the personal computer, social networks, and cloud computing has made the region so successful, with continual fueling by venture capital. Few are aware, however, that the staggering growth of the area had its roots in Washington, D.C., during the regulation-intensive climate of the late 1940s through the late 1950s.
Continue reading “How Silicon Valley’s Leap Ahead Was Preceded by Visible Government Footsteps”
I am a lawyer, First Amendment scholar, and an endowed journalism and electronic media enterprise and leadership professor at a major research university. Given these multiple professional identities, my thoughts on a recent headline-grabbing incident at Stanford Law School cannot be summarized by a pithy tweet, which is the coin of the realm in the social media world.
A recent Stanford Law event sponsored by its Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian legal organization, has received widespread national media attention for the chaos it caused in real time, and more importantly, the threat to free speech that it represents.
Continue reading “Stanford Law’s Free Speech Teachable Moments”
Amidst the growing concern over TikTok’s massive availability in the United States, Congress now is ramping up its public scrutiny of that company, which is owned by China’s ByteDance. That foreign ownership has raised serious concerns regarding whether the company might constitute a national security threat that warrants an outright nationwide ban.
Such a ban, which has been advocated by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, raises First Amendment concerns that the government may not be able to justify under the constitutional strict scrutiny test of the Supreme Court that likely would apply in this case. It is unclear, and at this point unlikely, that a sufficient showing could be made to convince a federal court that the gravity of the national security risk in practice would justify restricting the ability of 150 million Americans to use the app for sending and receiving information.
Continue reading “The Ticking Clock on Legally Restricting TikTok”
Although the tidal wave of misinformation continues unabated, the New Year already has seen one ray of hope. In early January, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the first-in-the-nation law that requires public schools to teach media literacy at all grade levels – K-12.
Murphy noted in his signing statement: “Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of misinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse. It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”
Continue reading “A Ray of Hope for Media Literacy”