Please choose ONE of the following prompts for your mid-term essay:
(1) Trumpland: Kill All Normies
The 2018 documentary Trumpland: Kill All Normies interrogates the relationship between digital media culture, political polarization, and the alt-right. It addresses a number of issues that centrally about speech rights in the digital age.
For this assignment, please watch the documentary Trumpland
( https://vimeo.com/263452186) : Kill All Normies (Links to an external site.). As you watch, please be attentive to the questions, either explicit or implicit, that it raises about public culture, free speech, individual rights, group rights, and political violence in an era of digital media.
After you have viewed and thought about the film, please write a paper that does the following:
Identifies and discusses two issues/problems related to speech rights/free speech addressed by the film: what is the issue? Why/how is this an issue that is properly understood as one involving speech rights/censorship?
Offers recommendations for how we ought to address these issues, in light of both existing theories of free speech and laws regulating speech in the US. In so doing, students should consider the following:
What model of speech rights (eg marketplace of ideas, democratic self-governance, absolutist regulation, reasonable regulation, empowered speech rights) should govern how we assess the issue at hand? What sort of speech (high value/low value) is under discussion?
What role should the government, private companies, and/or individuals play in solving the problem?
Whose rights are in need of protection and how ought this be accomplished?
What existing laws or regulations should be enforced, revised, or repealed to allow for the solutions being proposed?
If the solutions proposed for the issues are different from one another, please account for why the situations are different and why they yield different remedies
In this part of the assignment, students should not only propose a remedy but should discuss why this remedy and justify why it is consistent with theories of the First Amendment and is appropriate to address the issue.
Students have tremendous freedom in how they structure this paper. Its goal is to provide students an opportunity to identify, based on the film, current questions/concerns over digital speech and its impact and to propose how best to address these issues. Students should draw on course readings (at minimum of three) in writing this assignment. Papers should be approximately 4-6 pages.
(2) Facebook and Free Speech
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently gave an address at Georgetown University about free expression, social media, and the Internet.
For this assignment, please read Zuckeberg’s speech
.Preview the document Please then assess what his speech communicates about his vision of speech rights in the digital era and evaluate the ethics and efficacy of his vision of speech rights. Students may consider the following questions:
How does Zuckerberg define free speech? How might we characterize his views of the First Amendment, especially in light of existing theories of free speech (eg marketplace of ideas, democratic self-governance, absolutist regulation, reasonable regulation, empowered speech rights)? What are the premises of his understanding of speech rights?
How does Zuckerberg define the role and responsibilities of a platform like Facebook to free speech? How does this vision accord with how scholars (such as Klonick or Napoli) discuss the operation of social media platforms?
What kind of historical analogies does Zuckerberg draw in his address? Are these appropriate and logical analogies? Why or why not?
What are the implications of Zuckerberg’s vision? What sort of speech environment will it produce? Who will be the beneficiaries? Who will be disadvantaged?
Are there other ways of addressing speech rights on social media platforms? If so, what are they? How would they compare to the vision outlined by Zuckerberg? What would the benefits and disadvantages of other models be?
Students have tremendous freedom in how they approach this prompt, though they should write papers (rather than a series of responses to questions) that analyze, interpret, and assess Zuckerberg’s speech in light of course readings and discussions. Students should draw on course readings (at minimum of three) in writing this assignment. Papers should be approximately 4-6 pages.
Grading criteria: Student papers will be graded according to the following criteria:
Are the paper’s claims clearly stated and supported with strong, specific, compelling evidence and analysis?
Is the analysis thoughtful, thorough, and well-reasoned?
Does the paper demonstrate a strong grasp and familiarity with course topics/concepts and course readings?
Does the author address the questions required for the assignment? Does the essay present thoughtful and careful consideration of the topic?
Is the essay well-organized? Does the author use effective topic sentences and transitions: Does the essay stay on topic? Does it have an appropriate introduction and conclusion?
Does the paper avoid grammatical errors and spelling errors? Has the author proofread carefully?
Citing sources: Anytime students draw on ideas, information, concepts, or quotations from a course reading they must cite their source. Students are welcome to use in-text parenthetical citations. Students should not consult sources outside of course readings for this assignment. However, in the event that a student draws on an outside source, that student must (1) cite the source in the text of the paper and (2) provide a bibliographic citation at the end of the paper. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of academic honesty standards. Please see me with any questions.
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