Franciska Coleman

Franciska Coleman | Social Regulation Of Free Speech In America

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In this episode, Henry speaks with Franciska Coleman, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Coleman joins the podcast this week to talk about her work and how it relates to threats to free speech on college campuses. In this episode we start off with the major topic of cancel culture and specifically how Coleman has interacted with the term.  

“When we use the term cancel culture, we’re not just describing what happened to a person, we’re also implying that it was somehow unfair. It wasn’t just deserts, right? And so that fairness is always going to be a little bit subjective – you know, constitutional law, due process is always about fairness that’s why I think that it’s possible to have a consensus around what’s unfair.” 

Henry and Franciska go on to speak more in depth about the current world of college campuses. Specifically, they talk about why college campuses in particular have been the centralized zone for such heated debates around the current issues we attempt to resolve. 

“The university shapes, the thinking, the possibilities, and the potentialities of the best and the brightest, right? And so, we kind of feel like our future leaders are shaped in the university. And so, if you want, if you feel like how people are educated determines how they’re going to vote, and what kind of policies they’re going to endorse, then everybody wants, you know, to have some kind of input, right? They want to get their perspectives and their ideas before you know, this group in its formative moment when they’re going to really shape their you know, how they view the democratic discussion. And that’s part of the purpose of the university right to prepare people to finally engage in a democratic discussion.” 

Coleman then goes on to talk about the idea of free speech as we define it and how it currently exists on a college campus. Our host Henry asks about whether the Professor feels the right to free speech is currently under threat. Coleman begins by making sure we are on the same page as far as how we relate to free speech.  

“I think maybe there’s been some kind of rebalancing where you know, we’ve always tried to have the cost borne by the listeners rather than the speakers and one of the things that kind of social regulation does is try to shift some of those costs back to the speakers. But, if you’re talking about speech, not as this kind of cost free speech dynamic, but – free speech as kind of speech that, you know, supports or promotes the rationales of free speech, right, self-governance, truth seeking self-expression, then I do think – that that is in danger.” 

To hear more from Henry’s latest interview with Professor Coleman, be sure to listen to this week’s episode of Keeping it Civil. 

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