International Aspects

After having completed the class on freedom of speech and having reviewed at least one of the lessons on international aspects of freedom of speech, hold a class in which role-playing is the central theme. In this class each group will have previously (in a pre-class activity) researched the laws and culture of a country (see the links on the international views site), choose a scenario, and then have each group respond in the style of their chosen country.

Freedom of Feared Action?

Read "Boy Scouts to appeal New Jersey ruling against ban on gays",, August 4, 1999, Web posted at: 7:16 p.m. EDT (2316 GMT) and follow up on the final ruling.

Think about how the situation in the article relates to freedom of speech, and answer these questions.

1. Do the Boy Scouts have a right, as a private organization, to exclude members who they feel do not promote their ideals?


2. Do the Boy Scouts give up any exclusionary rights, since they take public donations and are sometimes have activities that are sponsored by the government?


3. Since the New Jersey ruling was upheld, how can this affect other groups?


4. Would it be freedom of speech for a man to join NOW (National Organization of Women)?


5. Is it considered free speech to decide what kind of members are in a private organization?


6. Should freedom of speech be broad enough to allow anyone to join any organization they please?


The topic of Cyberhate using the Internet is very current. Among the topics under this heading is the sites that suggest that the World War II Holocaust is a hoax. See the following sites:

and for balance - the other side of the story:


There is probably no need to create a set of links to pornographic web sites, and probably impossible since it is not clear that every reader would have the same definition of pornography. The question of child pornography seems to be without question:

Now since I refuse to include any links to child pornography sites (it would probably be illegal for me even to scan such sites from my university system) amI not fulfilling my obligations to provide a balanced view of a topic? In this case my ethics (i.e. the decision making I undertake that lies between the two extremes of the need for a balanced presentation and my abhorrence of the topic) decrees that this will remain unbalanced.

Freedom of Action/Expression?

Discuss the following situations:

1. A protest has begun over pollution seemingly caused by a local power textile mill. Tensions escalate in the crowd and they begin moving towards the area of the factory. Local officials fear that the mob will storm the factory causing damage to the mill and danger to themselves. They deploy a police force to break up the protest. Does this violate the right of citizens to assemble?

2. A newspaper refuses to print the repeated editorial submissions of an irate reader, who takes extreme stances on issues and criticizes the newspaper in her letters. The reader claims that the paper is only rejecting her letters because they are critical of the newspaper and that this is a violation of her right to free speech.

3. An Iraqi-American theatre company is scheduled to perform a play. The play is set in Iraq during the Gulf War and criticizes the actions of the U.S. government in this war. FBI officials contact the theatre company and convince them to cancel the production, saying they will thoroughly investigate everyone involved as a suspected terrorist. The Bureau has no information suggesting that anyone involved is actually a terrorist.

4. The KKK is planning a march in a small town. The town refuses to grant a permit to assemble to the group because they believe that such march will almost certainly result in violence between the Klan members and the community.

Take each of these scenarios and suggest a similar situation that would involve the computing community.

Class Projects: