Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Freedom of Speech and Media in the Digital Age

By Shawn Healy
On Monday September 17, in celebration of Constitution Day, the Homewood-Flossmoor Area chapter of The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a program of the above title. It will be held at the Prairie State College Auditorium from 7-9pm.

The program will feature an introductory speech by Dr. Larry Arnhart, professor of political science at Northern Illinois University. He will address the difficulties in interpreting the First Amendment, and emphasize the fact that citizens have a right and duty to interpret the Constitution according to its original language. In his words, the power of constitutional interpretation should not be left to judges alone.

A panel discussion will follow, of which I will serve as the moderator. I'll be joined by William Zieske, legal counsel for Bryan Cave in Chicago, who specializes as a library lawyer. The other panelist will be former Freedom Museum intern, and current University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana student and Daily Illini reporter Riley Roberts. Collectively, we plan to address such questions as:
  1. How free is student speech? Student newspapers?
  2. Are your rights threatened? Are students' rights changing?
  3. How do MySpace and other social networking sites affect individual free speech?
  4. What can be printed on a t-shirt and worn in public school?
  5. Internet filters and security versus media literacy?
The program is open to the public, and the content is particularly pertinent to local high school and college students. All attendees will receive a copy of Free Speech 3.0: Student Expression in the Digital Age, along with a personal pocket Constitution. Come one, come all, and help us celebrate this most important of days.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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