Colorado Law Talk: "Exploring Transformative Silence and Protest"
In this Colorado Law Talk, Professor Deborah Cantrell will explore the current landscape of heightened social protest and consider whether and how the law matters to social activists.
When we think of recent protests, images come easily to mind of protestors marching down streets holding signs and chanting. Just as easily, images come to mind of counter-protestors yelling back, and law enforcement engaging protestors, often trying to control them with notable force. Those images remind us that protestors often engage with speech, silence, and the law in very pragmatic, but important ways. How does a locality handle permitting for protests? Are there noise restrictions to know about? How likely will it be that law enforcement will be present and making arrests? If there are arrests, who will post bail? While those practical choices are important, focusing on those choices often means that protest gets framed as being about speech rights—who gets to speak and how, and who gets to control speech and how. That framing obscures that protest is as much about silence as it is about speech.
As Professor Cantrell will discuss, protest is a deeply relational activity and choices about speech always involve choices about silence—or silencing. Similarly, the law is deeply relational as it sets up ways to order how people can, or cannot, engage and interact with each other. Professor Cantrell will inquire how more carefully investigating the relationality involved in protest work unearths a new and powerful dynamic—transformative silence. She will posit whether transformative silence can upend the typical zero-sum qualities of protest, and can increase the possibility that protest leads to social change.
Tuesday, May 18 at 5:30pm to 6:30pmVirtual Event