free speech

Erin Pettigrew / Creative Commons

Events this past week at Yale and the University of Missouri have sparked intense debate about the boundaries of free speech, and whether that debate is diverting the conversation away from a culture of racism at both schools that is not easily understood by those who don't live it.

Can we separate the fight against racism from the freedom to speak openly about it? Are we hurting students on the brink of adulthood if we protect them from exposure to the cruelties of life?

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Just days after the University of Missouri's chancellor and the system president resigned under pressure from students, another college leader is facing a crucial moment.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Hundreds of Yale University students marched through campus on Monday afternoon against what they said is a hostile climate. 

The company that makes Legos has landed at the center of a social-media firestorm after Chinese artist Ai Weiwei complained that it refused to supply a bulk order of the toy bricks for his art.

Ai said he wanted to use the bricks for an exhibition on free speech at Australia's National Gallery of Victoria. The museum attempted to place an order but was told by the company that it "cannot approve the use of Legos for political works."

"We've been refused, and the reason is Lego will not support political art, which is very frustrating," Ai said in an interview with NPR.

The Connecticut Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of a former employee at a UBS AG subsidiary who claimed he was fired in 2008 from his managing director job in violation of his free speech rights, after repeatedly warning that properties in the company's investment funds were overvalued by millions of dollars.

Kicking off a two-day trip to Ethiopia, President Obama called on the country to end its crackdown on journalists and to be more open politically.

Obama spoke Monday at a joint news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

WNPR/David DesRoches

Dozens of students marched to their college president's home on Sunday after racist graffiti was found in several campus bathrooms.

The graffiti read, “no n------”, with the “n” word spelled out. Sources tell WNPR that the graffiti was found in several bathrooms and in different handwriting styles.

David DesRoches / WNPR

Classes are canceled at Connecticut College on Monday after racist graffiti was found in a bathroom Sunday.

Mara Lavitt / WNPR

The data breach that affected Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in February affected more than a million and a half current and past Connecticut members. Most recently, Anthem announced they’ll be sending letters to those whose data was possibly leaked, offering them two years of free credit monitoring. We'll get an update. 

David DesRoches / WNPR

It's an idea as old as free speech itself: where does one's right to speak freely end, and the public's right to safety begin? The community at Connecticut College in New London is in the middle of trying to figure that out. 

Chion Wolf

Our topics today involve censorship, transgression, and reconciliation. 

Earlier in the week, The Nose panelists started talking about China's "dancing grannies" problem. This sounds like a Monty Python sketch, but it's real. In China's public squares, droves of people --most of them women and most of them with a little snow on their roofs -- assemble and dance, in various styles, to various kinds of music. 

Controversial Painting Defaced In Trumbull

Mar 12, 2015
Courtesy of Trumbull Library

A controversial painting at the Trumbull Library in Trumbull, Connecticut was defaced on Wednesday. The incident occurred while the library board met to hear public debate over the issue in a nearby room.

Courtesy of Trumbull Library


A painting featuring prominent female activists has been removed from the Trumbull Public Library by the town’s First Selectman Tim Herbst after a local pastor raised a concern about using Mother Teresa’s image in a painting alongside Margaret Sanger, which some see as controversial. 

Sozialfotografie [►] StR / Flickr Creative Commons

Less than a week after the deadly shootings at the headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, political cartoonists in the U.S. are still processing what happened to their colleagues.

Two Connecticut-based cartoonists spoke on WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show about reactions they get to their work. Matt Davies, staff cartoonist for Newsday, and Dan Perkins, syndicated cartoonist better known as Tom Tomorrow, called some of the feedback "nasty" and "frightening."

Aurelien Guichard / Creative Commons

Today on the Scramble, we talk to two cartoonists about the road ahead from the Charlie Hebdo massacre. I'm still wrestling with some of my own questions about what this story means to the world of satire, which I consider vitally important to the health of the world.

Gerry Lauzon / Creative Commons

Even though riots broke out around the world after satirical images of the Prophet Muhammad were published in Denmark ten years ago, one expert says analysts were surprised that cartoons could still provoke a terrorist attack like the Paris massacre.

This much is certain: Charlie Hebdo will live another day.

The magazine, which was the target of a deadly attack Wednesday, will be kept going through financial and editorial backing from some of France's largest media groups.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The success of a society depends - at least in part - on the civility of its members. Mutual respect, openness to different viewpoints...civil conversation is what we try to promote here on our show. 

Evgeny Feldman / Wikimedia Commons

Updated at 11:36 a.m. 

A Russian activist with ties to Yale University has received a suspended sentence on fraud charges. Alexei Navalny has become a prominent political opposition leader in Russia, leading protests over the years against President Vladimir Putin. 

According to the Associated Press, thousands of protestors took to the streets outside the Kremlin in response to the conviction. Navalny was subsequently arrested for breaking the terms of his house arrest and joining the protestors.

Activists in Hong Kong, angered by what they perceive as little progress in talks on democratic reforms with the government, marched to the home of the territory's chief executive to demand his ouster.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The case of Edward Snowden sparked worldwide discussions about the reach of government into the personal, and technological, lives of its citizens. One of those discussions continued at Yale Law School on Tuesday. 

At UConn, Does "Civility" Trump Free Speech?

Oct 16, 2014
dcJohn / Creative Commons

On August 28, UConn held a pep rally for the football team on a patio outside the Student Union. The 6:00 pm event included the UConn marching band and cheerleaders, and was emceed by UConn IMG Sports Radio Network -- pretty typical for this sports-crazy campus.

Hour after hour passed as Chen Guang stood, gun trembling in his hands, behind the doors of Beijing's Great Hall of the people, waiting for the order to clear Tiananmen Square of its student protesters.

It was 1989, and Chen was a 17-year-old soldier from a small town whose life was changed by his role in the bloody crackdown. His account offers a sharply different perspective of the events of June 3 and 4, 1989, when martial law troops fought their way into the center of Beijing, killing hundreds of people, mainly on approach roads into the square. / Creative Commons

Sometimes the rulings of the narrowly-divided Supreme Court actually reflect the very divided views of the public and the delicate nature of the law.

But the 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos made a lot of people scratch their heads. In it, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that work-related statements made by public employees are not protected by the First Amendment.  

The current conservative Supreme Court majority has a well-earned reputation for protecting the First Amendment right to free speech, whether in the form of campaign spending or protests at military funerals.

But in one area — the First Amendment rights of public employees — the conservative majority has been far less protective of the right to speak out. Now the court is revisiting the issue, and the result could have far-reaching consequences for public corruption investigations.

Google intends to fight a court order to remove a controversial anti-Muslim video from YouTube in the U.S.

The company plans to file for a hearing before a full nine-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after two of three judges on a smaller panel forced the company to take down the film, Innocence of Muslims, which caused uproar in the Islamic world in 2012.

Three journalists working for Qatar-based network Al-Jazeera English who are on trial in Egypt for their alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood have pleaded not guilty on Thursday. The trio were denied bail and their trial was adjourned until March 5.

Australian Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed, wearing white prison outfits, appeared in metal cages, according to Reuters, which says several others identified as al-Jazeera journalists are being tried in absentia.

This post was updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

The U.S. and the European Union are closely watching Ukraine amid news that the government was starting negotiations with opposition leaders to end the violence, which has left more than two dozen people dead since Tuesday.

A statement on the Ukrainian presidential website said:

This post was updated at 8:52 p.m. ET

Riot police stormed the main anti-government camp in central Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, on Tuesday. They fought with demonstrators armed with clubs and wearing helmets fought back. More than a dozen people were killed, including five policemen, according to AP and the BBC.

Opposition leaders met late in the day with President Viktor Yanukovych, but left without an agreement.

Ron Cogswell / Creative Commons

It's Monday. That means our show is The Scramble, where we make a lot of decisions on a last minute basis. We asked our super guest, Marc Tracy of The New Republic, to pick three topics about which Colin would quickly get up to speed.