20 Apr

A Precarious Balance: Hate Speech and Free Expression

13:00 — 16:30
University of Glasgow, University of Glasgow University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ

How can we protect free expression while at the same time tackling hate speech? Join Scottish PEN and the University of Glasgow for our annual symposium, this year exploring the complex issue of Hate Speech.

Free expression ensures anyone, irrespective of gender, race, income, sexuality, faith and political opinion, can speak up, share their opinions and contribute to the dialogue that shapes our society. But what happens when that contribution divides society, calls for the silencing of others or instigates violence? How can we protect our freedoms while at the same time protecting others?

Hate speech and a number of other offences have attempted to navigate this complex legal territory, but without a clear definition and understanding as to where responsibility and liability lies, how can we police hate speech without limiting our right to express ourselves? This issue has taken on added significance in the digital age, where through social media, people can communicate with anyone around the world and publish their thoughts and beliefs beyond the control or guidance of an editor. This has democratised speech, enabling marginalised groups around the world to have their voices heard, but these tools have also enabled people to spread hate at an alarming pace and ferocity.

This symposium brought to you by Scottish PEN and the University of Glasgow seeks to pick apart this complex issue to figure out what can be done to better understand this issue and strike a balance between free expression and the protection of others. Joining us are leading experts from Scotland and around the world to discuss this important issue including Nighat Dad, the Executive Director of Digital Rights Foundation; Pauline Kelly, Media and Campaigns Officer of Amnesty International Scotland; Dave Scott, Campaign Director of Nil By Mouth; Rebecca Marek, Parliamentary and Policy Officer of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights and Becky Kaufmann, the Justice Policy Officer at the Scottish Trans Alliance. The session will be chaired by Andrew Tickell, law lecturer at Glasgow Caledonia University.

The event will start at 1pm and will also feature a wine reception after the event.