For those who may be interested, here is a bit more information on the 2008 Constitution Day speech by Professor Cass Sunstein referenced in our last post. Professor Sunstein’s discussion of the dangers of balkanized speech fora inspired our poster campaigns, which seek to alert members of the Law School community about matters related to the Law School which they might otherwise not have occasion to encounter.
Below are two video clips from the speech. (Given Harvard Law School’s censorship of our last blog via a bogus DMCA claim of use-of-name trademark infringement, and the possibility that it might seize on our use of these clips as a pretext to take down this blog, by making a similarly bogus DMCA claim of copyright infringement, we note: (1) these clips are hosted by YouTube, not by this blog; (2) they total only 8 1/2 minutes of Sunstein’s 77-minute speech; and (3) the entire 77-minute video of Sunstein’s speech is available for free on Harvard Law School’s website, here, so that these clips simply involve our effort to make “fair use” of the longer video, by giving our readers easy access to excerpts of the speech that may be of particular interest to them.)
The first clip provides the gist of Professor Sunstein’s warning about the dangers, especially in our internet age, of balkanized speech fora; his observations on the benefits of a rich free-speech environment in which people can encounter ideas different from their own, for example, by having printed materials presented as part of an “architecture of serendipity” which can lead unchosen, unanticipated encounters with ideas on matters they might not otherwise even have considered; and his quotation from John Stuart Mill’s remarks on the value “of placing people in contact with . . . modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar.”
In the second clip, taken from the question-and-answer session, Professor Sunstein suggests that then-Senator Barack Obama’s approach to politics may also help solve some of the balkanization of political speech, and he predicts that if the Republicans lose badly in the November, 2008 elections (as they did), Republicans will come to agree with Obama that their “father’s conservatism” is “not useful,” and they will refashion conservative thought into something more to liberals’ liking.