Scholars’ Circle-Free-Speech-in-USA-/-Tortured-Dec. 13th, 2014

First, we continue to trace the birth of free speech in the US, a country that for decades prosecuted dissenters. What caused the radical turn around by the Supreme Court to support free speech? [ dur: 29 mins. ]

  • Thomas Healy is Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School. Author of The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind–and Changed the History of Free Speech in America

Then, the senate’s report on CIA torture detailed the intelligence agencies inhumane interrogation techniques, which included rectal hydration, water-boarding and beatings. Members of the Bush administration who had sanctioned the torture, continue defending the program despite international condemnation. Our next two panel discussions explore the realities of torture, both from the individuals’ experiences of being tortured and the broader legal and societal questions..

  • Murad Aldin Amayreh is an Independent Film Producer and Director. He produced and directed the recently released documentary, The Tortured: Stories of Survival.
  • Hector Aristizabal is one of the interviewees in the film, who was tortured in Colombia. He has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, founded ImaginAction to help people tap the transformative power of theatre in programs throughout the US, Latin America, Europe and globally. He is the co-author of, The Blessing Next to the Wound: A Story of Art, Activism, and Transformation.

Also joining the conversation:

  • Pamela Merchant is the former President and Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Accountability. Under her leadership, CJA has grown from an organization devoted solely to human rights litigation in the U.S. to one that also engages in human rights litigation in foreign jurisdictions, such as Spain and Cambodia. CJA now represents over 200 clients from 21 countries and has tripled its operating budget. Ms. Merchant has testified before Congress on accountability for human rights abusers and other human rights issues. Ms. Merchant received degrees from Georgetown University and Boston College School of Law
  • Gerald Gray is a social worker and psychotherapist who works with torture victims and who has initiated numerous institutes to assist them. He founded Center for Justice and Accountabilityin 1998. Currently, he is on the advisory board at the Institute for Redress & Recovery, Santa Clara University School of Law.
  • Stephen Rohde is a constitutional lawyer, founder and current Vice-Chair of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Chair of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and a Vice President of Death Penalty Focus. He is the author of, Webster’s New World American Words of Freedomand Freedom of Assembly.


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