Stephen Wolgast: Free Speech in Times of Crisis

Hosted by Emporia Public Library and Kansas Humanities Council

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."

With these simple words in the First Amendment, U.S. citizens are granted an inalienable right to express their opinions, a right that does not dissipate at times when society us under stress and disagreements get heated. Even when we do not agree with someone's language, we believe in the speaker's right to utter it -- and that if we disagree with someone's speech, the best response is more speech. History shows us, however, that sometimes people in positions of authority actively work to close off public discussion. This presentation will look at the reasons free speech is protected and provide current examples of how people in authority dissuade the public from speaking up. Events of today can be connected to William Allen White's famous editorial, the work of Joseph Pulitzer, and the history of journalism in the United States.

Stephen Wolgast is an instructor of journalism & mass communication at Kansas State University, his undergraduate alma mater. Previously, he was news design editor of The New York Times and executive news editor of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Part of The Pulitzer Project in Kansas: William Allen White and Freedom of Speech, sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council, the Pulitzer Prizes Board, and the Federation of State Humanities Councils.