Columbia Public Library hosts first amendment panel

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public Library is sponsoring an event Monday that discusses free speech in the digital era.

The event will highlight three speakers: Dr. Adam Seagrave and Dr. Nicholas Drummond, both distinguished scholars from the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, and Jim Robertson, managing editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. 

Patricia Miller, adult services manager for Columbia Public Library, said the event will address concerns about how social media has changed free speech.

"I’m hoping that we get a better understanding of, perhaps the complexity of the first amendment freedom of speech," Miller said. "What the original, I guess founders intended, it’s purpose, is it still feasible today because of the changes in technology."

Miller said Seagrave and Drummond will discuss if the meaning of free speech has changed. 

"Dr. Seagrave is going to look back at the original intent, the principles behind the first amendment and free speech, and see if it still basically applies to today," Miller said. "And then Dr. Drummond is going to look at some of the political theory behind free speech and how important it is."

Miller said Robertson is going to address concerns and responsibilities of the news industry in the modern era.

"He going to talk about the challenges that the instant news cycles, social media, has had for the newspaper industry," Miller said. "Newspapers have to be in the business of countering some of the disinformation that’s prevalent because of the technology."

The League of Women Voters of Columbia–Boone County is co-sponsoring the event. 

Co-President of the League, Peggy Placier, said she hopes a lot of people turn up to the event. 

"They invited us to join as a co-sponsor because of our common interest in equal rights and especially freedom of speech," Placier said. 

This event goes along with the exhibit celebrating the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights on display at the Columbia Public Library through February 28.

Missouri Humanities Council in partnership with the National Archives helped make the event possible. 

Mitzi St. John, public relations manager for Columbia Public Library, said one of the missions of the library is life long learning. 

"This is just one more topic for people to explore and learn more about," St. John said.