The Legal Project has developed an accredited Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course for attorneys titled:
SUING THE MESSENGER: The Misuse of Law to Suppress Free Speech Regarding Terrorism, Radical Islam and Related Topics.
A full course description is below. The inaugural presentation was May 26, 2010 in Philadelphia. Other presentations were held on August 11, 2010 in Washington, DC, February 24, 2011 in Philadelphia, May 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, and May 17, 2012 in Philadelphia. More are planned along the East Coast. Check the events section for an offering in your area.
This 1-2 hour course examines the misuse of law to suppress the free speech rights of authors and researchers commenting on terrorism, radical Islam and related issues.
Public discourse on these issues has long been hampered by physical intimidation such as the gruesome murder of Theo van Gogh and the Mohammad Cartoons riots. But over the last decade, a more subtle challenge has emerged in the form of predatory lawsuits. These suits seek less to win than to wear down researchers and analysts who, even when they prevail, pay heavily in time and money.
Relying largely on legal case studies, the course will establish the threat, document its manifestations across the globe and discuss ways to meet it. While the primary focus will be on manipulation of US libel law to stifle debate, attention will also be brought upon efforts to conscript Canadian, European and even International law in the service of suppression.
Part I will define the problem and illustrate the emergence of predatory suits as a strategy. Part II will offer an overview of US libel law and then describe how it is being misused to stifle fair discussion of terror financing and related issues. Part III focuses on Britain's plaintiff friendly libel laws and the various ways they have been used to chill both UK and US authors. Part IV examines the emergence of Canadian administrative tribunals as instruments of censorship. Part V analyzes challenges to free speech posed by Europe's hate speech laws. Part VI examines the cynical manipulation of international human rights laws to suppress open dialogue through such mechanisms as UN resolutions prohibiting blasphemy. The final two sections survey the overall success of campaigns to inhibit debate on radical Islam and the response of governments, entities and individuals dedicated to defending free speech rights.
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