Recent freedom of speech controversies involving religious groups have established a widespread public impression that the right to freedom of expression and the right to religious freedom are in tension if not outright opposition. And yet, in every single human rights charter they appear side by side, as successive articles. Is this adjacency coincidental or merely conceptual? This lecture will argue that it is not, that their proximity to one another is historical and, in exploring this history, we can see that the contemporary view that they are in tension is relatively recent. Looking at how the First Amendment of the US Constitution came into being, it is possible to show how, over the course of two centuries, shifts in the understanding of each liberty has profoundly formed and shaped understandings of the other. The lecture will finish with some reflections on the implications of the contemporary view about these liberties and their effects on the inhabitants of multicultural liberal-democracies, especially religious minorities.
Drinks at 5pm, lecture begins at 5.30pm.