101C midterm paper: on a free speech topic of your choice a 3- to 5-page "mini" paper in mla format

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101C midterm paper: on a free speech topic of your choice

A 3- to 5-page “mini” paper in MLA format

Due Wed, Mar 19th (10 percent of semester grade)
The only security of all is in a free press.

― Thomas Jefferson

Criteria for evaluation:

Critical thinking skills:

Writing skills:

Recognition of thesis or main idea

Compound / complex sentences

Explanation + analysis—beyond summary

Paragraph development

Development of affirmation (agreement), doubt (uncertain/unknown) or questions

Whole essay clarity and coherence

MLA format, incl. annotated works cited

Helpful hints:

  • Develop a title and subtitle to indicate focus—define, establish scope and focus.

  • Balance information with analysis—avoid summarizing what you’ve read without your

own commentary.

  • Include at least one example or cite a case study.

  • Although personal observation and experience are welcome, write most of the paper in 3rd

person expository (POV of most news & academic articles).

Context for discussion (cite and define):

US Constitution, first amendment—freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition

UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articles 18 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), 19 (freedom of opinion and expression), 20 (freedom of peaceful assembly and association)—see PEN freedom to write cases

Spectrum of speech—free speech, protection, control, suppression, censorship

Potential topics:
expansion of a free speech reading on pornography, racist speech, student speech, cyberbullying, Internet filtering, BONG HiTS 4 JESUS, Pussy Riot
role of social networking—FB, texting, tweets, cell phone photos/videos, micro-blogs—as an agent for change/revolution (Egypt), government control of China’s Renren, Baidu sites
banned authors Salman Rushdie, Chen Guangcheng, Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo; India ban of Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism; house arrest (and release) of Aung San Suu Kyi
censored art of Banksy grafitti, Ai Wei Wei (documentary Never Sorry), Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, parental advisory on movies or song lyrics

shooting at Wisconsin Sikh temple, hate rock, white supremacism; also skinheads, soccer ultras

symbolic speech (actions that are messages)—

flag burning, Koran burning, bra burning, draft card burning, effigy of public official

speech in a public forum, such as a public street or park or town square—

Tahrir Sq, Tiananmen Sq, Zuccotti Park (Occupy), BART shutdown of cellphone reception, Oakland Museum cancels Palestinian children’s art, SF nudist park, UCB bake sale

right not to speak, such as not saluting the flag or not saying the pledge of allegiance or not signing an oath as a condition of employment
campaign finance—contributions to political campaigns by individuals, special interests, and corporations, Citizens United Supreme Court case, super PACs

freedom of the press—print and multimedia, censorship, embargo, libel, sedition

freedom of religion—separation of church and state, religion and education (evolution v creationism), school prayer, religious expression in public settings

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy and its recent repeal, recent report after a year of repeal

Stolen Valor Act and Alvarez Supreme Court case

sports—Tim Tebow and high school “tebowing,” black power salute at 1968 Olympics

FCC v. “the seven bad words you cannot say on TV” (bleeps), profanity in performance— George Carlin (predecessor Lenny Bruce)

banned books (see American Library Association - ALA site):

Huckleberry Finn (n-word) or bowdlerizing text

Catcher in the Rye (f-word)
Supreme Court restrictions—


libel (defamation using written words, newspaper fact checking)

slander (defamation using spoken words)

fighting words (face-to-face)

hate speech (inciting violence)

banning hijab in France; banning minarets in Switzerland
silence as an act of speech or form of expression—fifth amendment, vigil or witness for a person or a cause (Troy Davis case), protest, concealment, government suppression
speech for those who are voiceless or silenced—children, prisoners, poor, outsiders, natural world (Should Trees Have Standing? by Christopher Stone)
surveillance—NSA, Patriot Act wiretapping authority, webcams, cell phone records, computer security—what is the relationship between surveillance and free speech?

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