October Updates from First Amendment Voice

“Speech is powerful. It’s the lifeblood of democracy, a precondition for the discovery of truth, and vital to our self-development. But speech is also dangerous. It can corrupt democracy, enable or incite crime, encourage enemies, and interfere with government.”

Those words were written Lawrence Tribe and Joshua Matz in their 2014 book on the Robert’s Court, Uncertain Justice. We see examples of their analysis before us each and every day.

Over the course of the last couple of years, I had the pleasure of dining in an intimate environment with Jamal Khashoggi. I always came away with new insights about the Middle East, and in particular, trends within Saudi Arabia. He had an insider’s perspective as he spoke truth to power from self-imposed exile in Virginia. Journalism today has become more dangerous. It has always been dangerous. A friend and Getty Images photojournalist, Chris Hondros, embedded with my units about ten times while I served in Iraq. Chris didn’t make it back from covering the Libyan conflict in 2011. Another colleague, Regis LeSommier, with Paris Match, has interviewed Bashar al Assad twice in the last few years. In order for the world to understand what is going on in dark corners of humanity, we need intrepid journalists willing to risk their lives in order to get the story.

However, the climate in the United States has gone from loss of confidence in public institutions, the media being one, to hostility in some circles. This has led to attacks on media organizations. Of course, journalists, and media organizations exhibit bias. All human beings do. But we should resist the urge to demonize journalists and the organizations they represent. Media organizations that have shifted from more objective, fact based reporting to opinion have done so based on market conditions. That’s what we, as Americans, have asked for. While we talk a good talk in terms of just wanting the news, neuroscientists have documented the effects of seeking self-affirming sources of information. We like it when we believe we are right. Reading or hearing a story that confirms our own preconceived narratives feels good.

FAV is happy to continue our coffee talk program that provides a forum for civil discussion about press freedom and other pressing First Amendment issues. If you would like to learn more about coffee talks or host one, please reach out. We would love to promote more opportunities for citizens to come together and explore ideas relevant in your community.

Yours in service,

Steve Miska and the FAV Team


Didn’t get a chance to attend last month’s National Symposium in Philadelphia? Watch newly released videos on our YouTube channel to get a sense for the experience that participants enjoyed. Don’t forget to Subscribe.

First Amendment Voice 3rd Annual National Symposium

The Third Annual National Symposium took place at the National Constitution Center on September 15th in the City of Philadelphia under the theme “E Pluribus Unum or Divided?” exploring what unites us as a country and where social divisions might be widening. 

The National Constitution Center hosted the symposium for the 3rd year in a row. Morning sessions hosted panel discussions on social divisions as they relate to the First Amendment. A working lunch addressed ways in which we can engage in civil dialogue both as students and non-students. During the afternoon, the forum spotlighted the NFL Kneeling Controversy in a Town Hall forum debate with a veteran, NFL football player and other perspectives featured.

3rd Annual First Amendment Voice National Symposium

3rd Annual First Amendment Voice National Symposium

Our national convening in the City of Philadelphia for our Third Annual National Symposium took place at the National Constitution Center on September 15th. The theme this year was “E Pluribus Unum or Divided?” as we explored what unites us as a country and where social divisions might be widening. 

The National Constitution Center was our host site for the 3rd year in a row. Morning sessions hosted panel discussions on social divisions as they relate to the First Amendment. A working lunch addressed ways in which we can engage in civil dialogue both as students and non-students. During the afternoon, we spotlighted the NFL Kneeling Controversy in a Town Hall forum debate with a veteran, NFL football player and other perspectives featured.

2018 National Symposium

2018 National Symposium

The Third Annual National Symposium took place at the National Constitution Center on September 15th in the City of Philadelphia under the theme “E Pluribus Unum or Divided?” exploring what unites us as a country and where social divisions might be widening. 

The National Constitution Center hosted the symposium for the 3rd year in a row. Morning sessions hosted panel discussions on social divisions as they relate to the First Amendment. A working lunch addressed ways in which we can engage in civil dialogue both as students and non-students. During the afternoon, the forum spotlighted the NFL Kneeling Controversy in a Town Hall forum debate with a veteran, NFL football player and other perspectives featured.

Speakers

Janessa Gans Wilder is a former CIA officer turned peacebuilder, social entrepreneur, and nonprofit executive. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Euphrates Institute, a grassroots peacebuilding organization. She founded Euphrates after five years at the CIA focused on the Middle East, including serving 21 months in Iraq from 2003-2005. Janessa is a frequent speaker in interfaith, community, government, international, and educational settings. She has written dozens of articles and been interviewed by major news outlets, including CBS, CNN, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Democracy Now, and many more.

Joe Cohn, FIRE’s Legislative and Policy Director, is a 2004 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Fels Institute of Government Administration, where he earned his Juris Doctor and Masters in Government Administration.  A former staff attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and law clerk in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, he also served as a staff attorney at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, where his work earned him accolades from The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly (“2007 Lawyer on the Fast Track”) in 2007 and from Super Lawyers magazine (“Rising Star”) in 2008. 

Scott Cooper is the National Security Outreach Director at Human Rights First and leads their project ‘Veterans for American Ideals,’ a nonpartisan movement of military veterans to continue their service by using their voices to encourage America to live up to its ideals. He is a retired Marine who served multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kern Beare is a former vice president of communications for a large technology firm in Silicon Valley, CA. After leaving the corporate world in 2005, he co-founded Global Mindshift, a non-profit offering online facilitated workshops on the essential skills we need to survive and thrive in today’s interconnected and interdependent world. Kern is the founder of Pop the Bubble, an initiative to help heal our current national divide. As part of that initiative he travels the country leading a workshop entitled “Difficult Conversations: The art and science of thinking together.”

Chelsea Langston Bombino serves as Director for Sacred Sector, an initiative of the Center for Public Justice.  In this role, Chelsea empowers faith-based organizations and future faith-based leaders to fully embody their sacred missions in every area of their organizational lives, including their public policy engagement, organizational practices, and public positioning. Chelsea also serves as Director for the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), a division of the Center for Public Justice. 

Robert Faris is the Research Director at the Berkman Klein Center and co-author of the book Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics, to be released September 27. His research includes the study of digital communication mechanisms by civil society organizations and social movements, the emergence and impact of digitally-mediated collective action, the influence of networked digital technologies on democracy and governance, and the evolving role of new media in political change. 

Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr. is a former Mayor of Philadelphia and the first African American to hold that office (1984-1992). He currently serves as the President and CEO of Amachi, Incorporated, a nationally acclaimed faith-based program for mentoring children of incarcerated parents; and Chairman and CEO of Self, Incorporated – a nonprofit corporation dedicated to serving homeless men and women. He is a Senior Fellow at the Fox School at the University of Pennsylvania. Because of his innovative and ground-breaking work, he received two prestigious awards in 2006: the Civic Ventures Purpose Prize, and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Citizen of the Year Award.

Rev. Michel Faulkner from Washington, D.C. was an all-star football player that became a freshman All-American and four-year starter at Virginia Tech. Rev. Faulkner graduated with a B.A. in communications and later returned to VA Tech for his MA. He played two seasons (1980-82) in the NFL, one season with the NYJets. He is founder of the Institute for Leadership and currently serves as the Executive Vice President of CE National.

Greg Jaffe is a reporter with The Washington Post who writes about national security and politics. He covered the White House for the Post from 2014-2017. From 2000-2013 Greg covered the Pentagon and the U.S. military for the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, traveling regularly to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the co-author of “The Forth Star” about the lives of four Army generals and the roles they played in the Iraq War. Jaffe shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for a series on defense spending and won the Gerald R. Ford award for defense coverage in 2002 and 2009.

Will you be in Philadelphia this September 15? This is your chance to win FREE admission to our National Symposium at the National Constitution Center! It’s easy, all you have to do is:

  1.  Follow @1stamendmentvoice 
  2.  Post a photo showing how you bring people together in your community and tag it #FAVunity.

That’s it! Winners selected every week. Your submission will also be eligible for a Grand Prize at the end of August!

Update: Congratulations to Hilary Cohen, our Grand Prize Winner!

Instagram Contest for Students -Closed-

Instagram Contest for Students -Closed-

Update: Congratulations to our #FAVunity Grand Prize Winner, Hilary Cohen!

Hilary Cohen’s #FAVunity Instagram submission shows how she is helping build bridges in her community and beyond

Instagram Contest for Students

Will you be in Philadelphia this September 15th? This is your chance to win FREE admission to our National Symposium at the National Constitution Center! Learn more about our dynamic symposium HERE and keep reading to see details on our Instagram Contest for students. Don’t want to wait? REGISTER NOW.

Prizes and How to Win

The Grand Prize recipient gets free attendance to the Symposium VIP Reception on September 14th at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, free admission to the Symposium at the National Constitution Center on September 15th, and a free tour of the new American Revolution Museum in Philadelphia. Ten runners up get free admission to the Symposium.

Post a photo on your Instagram that answers the question, “What do you do in your community to bring people together?” Use the hashtag #FAVUnity and like @1stamendmentvoice on Instagram to qualify for a Grand Prize and ten runners up prizes.

Time Limit: August 1-31st, 2018

Winners will be selected:

  • August 31: 10 Runners Up and GRAND PRIZE Winner (selected from whole month submissions)

Terms

  • Entrants can be any active student, whether high school, undergrad, graduate, PhD, etc.
  • Entrants agree to allow First Amendment Voice (FAV) to use any photos submitted for promotional purposes in the Symposium or future events.
  • In order to qualify, entrants must post a photo using the hashtag #FAVUnity and follow @1stamendmentvoice on Instagram.
  • Only entries submitted between August 1st and August 31st, 2018 will be considered.

This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

March Newsletter

March Newsletter

FAV Family,

Photo Credit: Dr. Malcolm Byrd, American Bible Society In the photo from right to left: Dr. Paul Murray, Colonel John Church, President of Valley Forge Military Academy & College, Annie Brown, the Honorable Wilson Goode, Jr, former Mayor of Philadelphia, Dr. Fred Lester, Men’s Empowerment Network, Joe Cohn, Legislative Director, FIRE, and Steve Miska, Director, First Amendment Voice

Dr. Murray and I had the supreme honor of meeting with stakeholders in the Philadelphia area to discuss the FAV direction for the upcoming National Symposium in September. People in the meeting provided constructive input into the programming that would most resonate with respect to freedoms of religion, speech, press and civic challenges today. We are excited to invite you to join us on September 14th and 15th to celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and help rekindle understanding around first amendment issues.

Following our Round Table discussion, I had the distinct honor of addressing the Corps of Cadets at Valley Forge Military Academy & College. I spoke about Character as it relates to First Amendment Freedoms. The cadets asked insightful questions and instigated a meaningful exchange around important issues that many in the crowd would soon swear an oath to defend. Serving something greater than yourself is one of the most meaningful ways to live out life, whether that service is through your faith, your service to country in uniform, through the Peace Corps, or some other way. There are many ways to serve, but like citizenship, service is not a spectator sport! You need to get in the game and enjoy the rewards.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in Service,

Steven M. Miska
Director, First Amendment Voice
 

First Amendment Voice awarded PEN America Grant to promote press freedom

Thanks to the support of PEN America, FAV will host Coffee Talks in local areas to discuss threats to First Amendment issues and empower citizens to learn and advocate for protection of their freedom. Coffee shop talks will help consumers be more critical and think about the reliability of their news sources by learning about different perspectives. Two Coffee Talks will be held in Southern California in the next month to raise awareness of press freedom. Dates, times, and locations to be announced.

Upcoming Events in 1A Space

The Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute invites you to attend our March webinar, Islam and America: Tips for Sharing Scholarship with the Public. We will discuss how scholars of Islam and American public life can engage different publics to raise the visibility of their work. We are pleased to host co-presenters Dalia MogahedNajeeba Syeed, and Asma Uddin. The webinar will include a presentation and extended Q&A. Sign up today!

Event Details: March 14, 2018: 12 – 1 p.m. EST


In the News

Discussion with those whom you disagree. The first paragraph gives you a sense for where this piece goes. I hope you take the time to read it.

Disagreement has made disagreeable individuals of us all. News channels are littered with platitudes masquerading as thoughtful discussions. Individuals, convinced that the volume of their speech corresponds to the correctness of their arguments, contribute to the cacophony of tirades. The print media publish headlines assassinating opponents’ characters rather than their ideas.

Free speech and toleration: A family exercising free speech stir controversy within their community.