Entertaining Debate On Freedom Of Speech In Honor of Constitution Day

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During lunch at Texas A&M-Texarkana yesterday, Dr. Drew Morton and Dr. Walter Casey debated the merits of freedom of speech and expression for Constitution Day. Dr. Morton is an Assistant Professor in the Mass Communications Department, and Dr. Casey is a Professor in the Political Science Department – both at Texas A&M-Texarkana.

Dr. Casey described the context of the debate as:

The debate today centered about free expression and whether or not there are – or should be – limits on that. Both Professor Morton and myself are in agreement that although maintaining order is necessary for a functional society, limits on expression must be objectively developed and fairly applied.

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Dr. Morton argued:

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that shapes our understanding of the culture around us.  By allowing the local police force in Ferguson to place limitations on freedom of the press or prohibiting the representation of a range of topics that a filmmaker can approach via the “voluntary rating system” of the Motion Picture Association of America, we have already begun to surrender our rights for an open exchange of knowledge and – by extension – have placed a limitation on how we can conceptualize and discuss topics ranging from racism to misogyny.  This censorship keeps us in a moral comfort zone where ignorance is bliss, yet denies moral, artistic, and philosophical enlightenment.

Bob Bruggeman, the Mayor of Texarkana, Texas, moderated the debate.

When these two are not debating constitutional issues, these gentlemen are very accomplished – in academics and their personals lives.

Dr. Morton’s biography discussed below:

Drew is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. He holds a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA. He the co-editor and co-founder of [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, the first peer-reviewed academic journal focused on the visual essay and all of its forms (co-presented by MediaCommons and Cinema Journal). His publications have appeared in animation: an interdisciplinary journal, The Black Maria, Flow, In Media Res, Mediascape, Press Play, RogerEbert.com, Senses of Cinema, Studies in Comics, and a range of academic anthologies. He is currently completing a manuscript on the overlap between American blockbuster cinema and comic book style.

The following is Dr. Casey’s biography:

Professor Casey (Ph.D. University of Texas at Dallas), is a 9th generation native Texan hailing from Amarillo. A Navy veteran and long-time educator who joined the A&M community in 2010, he is one of the most talked-about professors in town:  teaching courses in Political Science such as “Politics and Religion” and “The Politics of Gender” generate much interest and discussion. He and his spouse, a successful trial lawyer, have two children – Zamira, age 5, recently on the cover of Texarkana Parent, and Zadock, age 3. When he is not teaching, Professor Casey likes to immerse himself in research, engage with his kids in the Texarkana Community, work in their garden, and sleep.

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