J.P. Messina Speaks on Private Censorship

J.P. Messina from the University of New Orleans will give a talk on the topic “The Ethics and Politics of Private Censorship.” The talk will take place on December 4, 2019, from 4-5:30pm in Brush Mountain A (Squires Student Center). The talk is tailored to appeal to both students and faculty, with plenty of time for discussion and interaction with the guest speaker. You are cordially invited to attend.

Here is the abstract of the talk: Concerns about censorship have shifted away from the state and toward censorship by private parties (e.g., employers, social media companies, TV networks, twitter campaigns, and restrictive social norms). Regardless of its particular form, private censorship has generated roughly two families of response. The first is to call for legislation that would protect persons from the restrictions in question, perhaps by extending the reach of the first amendment (in U.S. contexts) to prevent infringement by private parties. The second is to deny that non-state agents can censor in ways that wrong others, and that in cases of so-called private censorship we have merely so many instances of private parties exercising their rights. This talk defends the claim that both reactions are mistaken in important ways but correct in others. Those concerned about private censorship are wrong to think that it should be treated analogously with state censorship, but correct to think that censorship by private parties involves something of crucial moral and political importance. Those who think that talk of private censorship is much ado about nothing are wrong in this, but correct to think that the parties involved often act well-within the boundaries of their moral rights. The talk concludes by characterizing various principles that govern the permissibility of private censorship.

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