Fearless Speech: Advancing Cyber-Civil Rights

If we actually care about risky speech, if we actually care about the speech of the vulnerable, if we care about speech that does something to make us think twice about the status quo, then those are the kinds of conversations that should be getting a lot more attention as free speech issues.~Mary Anne Franks

In this episode, Annenberg doctoral student Sophie Maddocks speaks with leading legal scholar and cyber civil rights advocate Mary Anne Franks, whose 2019 book The Cult of the Constitution: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech argues that fundamentalist interpretations of the Constitution elevate certain rights above others.

Using a range of case studies from non-consensual pornography and cyber sexual harassment to white supremacist rallies, Franks asserts that selective devotion to some parts of the constitution is normalizing deeply harmful conduct both on and offline.


Sophie Maddocks is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication. She is broadly interested in cyber civil rights, gender and sexuality, youth media literacy, and popular culture. Her current research explores individual, organizational, and legislative responses to online gender-based violence. Follow her on Twitter @Sophie_J_J

Mary Anne Franks is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on the intersection of civil rights and technology. She teaches classes on criminal law, criminal procedure, First Amendment law, Second Amendment law, family law, and law and technology. She is President and Legislative and Tech Policy Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. Follow her on Twitter @ma_franks

This episode was produced by Sophie Maddocks and edited by Jasmine Erdener


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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Center for Media at Risk, the Annenberg School for Communication or the University of Pennsylvania.