Week 15

Electronic Frontier Foundation on NSA surveillance


Practice questions for final exam:

1 According to Sissela Bok, define a secret. Discuss the natural tension between the

free flow of information and confidentiality / privacy? Given the complexity of issues

surrounding WikiLeaks, identify and discuss multiple points of view, including the public

at-large, mass media, governments, corporations, public figures, special interests.

2 According to Bok, define gossip. WikiLeaks releases have included personal information about world leaders...does this affect international reputations, influence, and power? Should this kind of information be released? Does this interfere with more serious questionsof leadership and power?

3 According to Bok, explain whistleblowing. Under what circumstances did Edward Snowden commit the crime of downloading and revealing top secret information to the public? Can his actions be justified according to principles of a citizen activist? Is he a traitor or a hero? How can opposing sides both claim that they are advocating for a strong democracy? What role did mass media play in telling his story? How did this story develop into a much bigger debate about privacy in the digital age?  

4 Describe Voltaire’s El Dorado in Candide--why is it problematic to present a utopia,

however rich and beautiful it may appear to be? If utopia is beyond our reach, why bother

to think about it? Why not end the story on a happy note, at play in El Dorado? If he had found paradise, why did Candide leave El Dorado?

5 How could we translate Candide’s closing thought, that “...we must cultivate our

garden”? What is the significance of working in a garden? What are other gardens that come to mind in life and literature? Who are the cast of characters who are reunited in the garden? How have they changed over time?

6 Finally, how do we view optimism after all of Candide’s and his friends’ adventures?

Compare optimism, pessimism, skepticism. In light of Candide, weigh in and explain

your position.

Week 14

Christiane Amanpour on the practice and ethics of journalism, 15 min.


Week 13


Timothy Snyder on Russian interference in general election, part 2

Week 12


Timothy Snyder on sovereignty v. partisanship, 12 min.

Week 11

in-class viewing of Rod Serling’s The Shelter, 25 min.

Week 10

Peter Singer on the morality of affluence, poverty


Robert Wright on non-zero-sumness, cooperation, how we are linked at


Steven Pinker on the myth of violence, the connection between communication and empathy at


Re: Singer, Wright, Pinker--another POV by Christopher Hitchens:

Christopher Hitchens on distrusting compassion

“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the "transcendent" and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”

Q&A with Christopher Hitchens: seeing both sides of a question


Week 9

Citizenfour interview by Amy Goodman


Week 8

See student examples of annotated works cited at Gdrive.

Practice Qs (below).

Week 7

Practice questions for midterm exam:

1 Based on the text of the First Amendment, offer reasons why—while the words remain constant—interpretation of them changes over time.  How is it possible for opposing parties in a given controversy to both quote the amendment as a basis for their argument?  Give examples from readings and current events. Why are fundamental principles and values characteristically stated as ‘open’ texts, that is, open to definition and interpretation?

2 Between the polar opposites of free speech and censorship lie degrees of differentiation that recognize the limits or boundaries of free speech—such as protection, control, suppression. What is the gray area—the negotiable, contestable territory—between freedom and censorship?  According to Brownmiller and Lawrence, who or what is responsible for these limits or boundaries?  What is your position on the issue of free speech that should or should not be mediated by a sense of limits or boundaries? Explain with example(s).

3 Bok refers to signs and symbols on campus and Smolla to speech acts such as flag burning as protected speech under the law. If a speech act is defined as “in saying something, we do something,” what are the unspoken messages of such acts as flag burning, hanging an effigy, carrying signs, and so on?  Taking it a step further, when we participate in or observe silence as speech act—such as candlelit vigils or an anniversary for lost lives from the Iraq war—what is the unspoken message?  Why is silence sometimes more potent than words?  How does the unspoken—such as signs, symbols, speech acts, silence—redefine our sense of speech? 

4 What are the issues of online anonymity and freedom v. cyberbullying and its consequences? Why are under-13 (middle school age) children especially vulnerable online? How do we balance freedom on the Web and responsible conduct? Should there be any rules or limits to online communications? How do Bazelon and Hudson approach boundaries between public and private access … between adults and children … between peers, especially kids?  Identify multiple points of view, including your own.

5 How does Yoder frame the controversy of student speech on college campuses and the power of outside money? How do Figueroa/Palumbo-Liu differentiate between free speech and hate speech? How can we draw the line between peaceful and violent protests?

6 If there is significance in repetition, what can be said about Pangloss’ favorite phrase, “all is for the best” in “the best of all possible worlds”? Throughout the course of war and disaster, as this catchphrase of optimism is repeated, how is it received by the reader? Citing contemporary examples—of war, natural disaster, torture, capital punishment, repression—how does this slogan, “the best of all possible worlds,” and accompanying philosophy, optimism, hold up?  From Voltaire’s point of view… from yours? 

7 “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” As quoted in your course syllabus, this maxim by Voltaire contrasts doubt and certainty as contrary conditions for critical thought.  And, characteristically, this double assertion is delivered in a humorous vein, fraught with a sense of satire and irony.  How does Voltaire provoke questions and doubts about the world Candide discovers?  What are the multiple points of view exemplified by the main characters—Candide, Pangloss, Cunégonde—as well as the church, nobility, military?  How is satire and irony employed to question and deflate authority?  To challenge the established order?  To subvert expectations and rules for operating the levers of power?

Writing strategy:

Refer to readings—then, weigh in your own thoughts—agree, disagree, something in between—why? give your reasons

Compare 2 or more sources—this sets up multiple POVs and invites your own

Compare what is / what is not, then / now, status quo / change, theory / practice

Definition—define and explain key words and phrases in free speech readings and Candide

Balance summary with commentary—explain, analyze, interpret

Logos / reason, pathos / emotion, ethos / ethics or morals—a frame for your thoughts

Fallacy—use your fallacy radar to expose erroneous thinking, easy short cuts to reasoned thought

Multiple points of view—acknowledge or anticipate objections to your argument

Connect readings, other source material, your observations and experiences

Humor—satire, irony—is the sharpest instrument of all . . . channel Jon Stewart or your favorite comedian . . . note Voltaire’s targets . . . who / what he chooses to attack, to protect . . .

Week 6

Microagressions 4-min. vid


Bruce Jenner, WSJ

Week 5

Review MLA format for in-text citations and annotated works cited (see week 4 at <handouts>).


Berkeley student comments on free speech and alt-right speakers.

Week 4



“Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

                                                                                         First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

                                                                   Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U.N. 

See instructor demo on free speech at class Gdrive.



Wikipedia on Charlie Hebdo—facts, international press and demonstrations, links to news and commentary.


Editorial cartoon by Joe Sacco, The Guardian (U.K.)—on the limits of satire, when it’s not funny.


Aggregation of Guardian coverage of Charlie Hebdo.


BBC on the issue of depicting the Prophet Muhammad and the 2005 case of the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, publishing controversial Muhammad cartoons.


New York Times columnist, David Brooks, on hypocrisy, provocateurs, fundamentalism, multiple points of view, civility and respect.


New York Times editorial on the blurring boundaries between disgusting v. dangerous speech, changing standards and laws on free speech.


Al-Jazeera English commentary by U.S. professor of Middle Eastern Studies—on extreme capitalism and extreme religion, on empire and colonization, blowback of wealth and power.


Cartoonist Art Spiegelman and Scholar Tariq Ramadan on Charlie Hebdo and the power structure of satire—transcript of a conversation.


Adam Gopnik on the French tradition of political satire—savage caricatures of politicians, kings, popes, Jesus, “nothing sacred.”


“A shooting at a free speech event featuring an artist who had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad and a second shooting hours later outside a synagogue left two dead and five police officers wounded in Copenhagen, stirring fears that another terror spree was underway in a European capital a month after 17 people were killed in Paris attacks.”


Pussy Riot, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, 1+ min


Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Khamovnichesky Courthouse, Moscow, 15 min.


Transcript of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s statement.

Written in prison.


LInk to Masha Gessen’s Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot


Link to 2-min. trailer for documentary film, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer--available on HBO or Netflix

See more Youtube links to interviews with film co-directors and Masha Gessen.

Pussy Riot on Stephen Colbert, Parts 1 + 2 + sign-off

(6 min, 6 min, 42 sec)


(with ads)


(without ads)


videos and text on Masha Gessen’s book, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot


Pussy Riot at Sochi Olympic Games

  1. Q.Why did Pussy Riot go to Sochi to protest?

  2. Q.What does it mean when supporters hold up a raw chicken and chant “We like sex with chickens”?

Q. Why do Pussy Riot members continue to protest even though their key members have been imprisoned for over 2 years? Why did the Russian government release them from prison? And then Cossack police beat them with horse whips at Sochi?

  1. Q.Why are many Pussy Riot protests (including their name) in English instead of Russian?


Free Speech: alt-right speakers at UC Berkeley / antifa (anti-fascist protesters)—what is free speech, hate speech, protest / counter protest?







Free Speech: removal of Confederate monument of General Robert E. Lee, “Unite the Right” white supremacist “tiki torch” march on U. of Virginia campus in Charlotteville, protesters v. counterprotesters








Colin Kaepernick syllabus

sources on background and related cases of sports figures publicly taking a social/political position

Week 3


MLA page format


note essay title format: centered, no underline or bold, 12-pt font


on paragraph basics


how to avoid sentence fragments

Week 2

on the history of political cartoons



on Herb Block


on Pia Guerra


on Hurricane Harvey and Houston floods


Week 1

documentary photographs by Sebastian Salgado