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SPC forum to focus on suppression of free speech

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The threat to First Amendment rights posed by overzealous political correctness will be debated at a public forum at St. Petersburg College on Jan. 19.

The event, part of the SPC Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions’ Dinner Series, is titled You Can’t Say That: Free Speech and the Social Sensitivity Movement. The forum will be from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. in the Conference Center at SPC’s Seminole campus, 9200 113th St. N. Advance registration is required. Admission is $20 for students and educators; $25 for the general public.

The free-speech-suppression movement is a 180-degree shift from the college protest scene of the 1960s. In their day, members of the Baby Boom generation staged mass rallies to protest free-speech suppression. Today’s Millennial generation stages mass rallies to block fellow students and faculty members from expressing views they find offensive.

But it isn’t just on college campuses that free speech is under attack. During the presidential election campaign, dissenters were jeered, even pummeled, at political rallies even as candidates denounced “political correctness.” News reporters were ridiculed for doing their job. And post-election, there is a push to have protest rallies labeled as acts of terrorism if they cause “economic disruption.”

Where is the balance? When does free speech become hate speech? Is the First Amendment’s guarantee absolute? A distinguished panel will explore the implications for academic and political freedom from this movement and engage with the audience in a frank exploration of the First Amendment’s protections – and its limitations.

Opening speaker will be Susan Kruth, program officer for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education of Philadelphia. She will be joined by Dr. David Liebert, professor and academic department chair for Social and Behavioral Sciences at St. Petersburg College. Moderator will be David Klement, executive director of the Institute.

Advance registration is required at For information: (727) 394-6942.

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