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Twin Cities, MN: The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’ Hustler Symposium

April 20, 2018 - April 21, 2018

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It has been 30 years since the AAEC joined with Hustler’s Larry Flynt in defending satire and the First Amendment before the Supreme Court. Free speech supporters will celebrate this landmark case next year, and use the occasion as a clarion call to confront new threats to satirists and cartoonists. Here is the press release:

The State of Our Satirical Union: Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell at 30

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The State of Our Satirical Union: Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell at 30 symposium will mark the anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court decision, issued in 1988, affirming the First Amendment right of editorial cartoonists and satirists to lampoon public figures.

But 30 years later, satirists of all stripes are working in an environment that presents challenges to freedom of speech unimaginable when the unanimous court decided Hustler v. Falwell. There are calls to change libel laws to make it easier to sue the news media. Cartoonists and journalists face intimidation on social media platforms. Those same platforms make it possible for cartoons drawn in Buffalo, Copenhagen, or Paris to reach audiences in any corner of the world, including places where insult laws and prohibitions on hate speech are the norm. In the era of Trump and Charlie Hebdo, will Hustler’s protections endure?

The State of Our Satirical Union is sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and some of its members are helping organize the symposium and will participate in many sessions. Held at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, on April 20 and 21, 2018, the symposium will explore the many dimensions of the Hustler decision, including the history of the case and participation by editorial cartoonists and other First Amendment advocates as “friends of the court.” Leading media law scholars and editorial cartoonists will interpret the legacy of the ruling in the context of major political events and legal developments of the last 30 years.

The symposium will feature some of the country’s best-known editorial cartoonists, whose work will be displayed throughout the event, including Ann Telnaes and her work “Trump’s ABC.”

The Silha Center at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication will publish a special symposium book examining the significance and vitality of satire in American life today. Scholars, media lawyers, historians, cartoonists, comedians, and others are invited to submit abstracts of articles, essays, and graphic art exploring these topics by January 16, 2018. The Silha Center will invite authors and artists whose abstracts are accepted to provide the final version of their submissions by March 5, 2018, and to participate in the symposium.

For further information, or to submit an abstract, contact Jane E. Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, at kirtl001@umn.edu or 612-625-9038.

The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law is based at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Silha Center activities are made possible by a generous endowment.


University of Minnesota
3 Morrill Hall 100 Church St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455 United States
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