Studying Law at Roma Tre

Academic Year 2020-2021

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Spring Semester (March 1 - May 31, 2021)


Extreme Speech and the Law 2021

Prof. Giorgio Pino

2 CFUs - ECTS, Thursday and Friday, 8.15-10.00, room (aula) # if known

[With Dr. Valeria Fiorillo]
Office hours: Thursdays, Dipartimento di Giurisprudenza, via Ostiense 161, room 265 (by appointment). Email:

Course description: 
The seminar will be divided in three parts. In the first part, we will offer a survey of the different philosophical justifications of free speech, as they emerge from both the debate in legal and political philosophy, and from the jurisprudence of Supreme courts in Europe and the US. In the second part of the seminar we will introduce and define the general concept of ‘hate speech’, and in this light we will then analyse some recurring ‘limiting cases’ in free speech adjudication: namely, racist speech, pornography, and Holocaust denialism. The third part of the seminar will be devoted to presentations from students, who will be encouraged to present and discuss, in small groups, real-life court cases on the topics that have been previously discussed during the seminar.

Course Learning Objectives
At the end of this course, successful students will:
  • have a basic knowledge of the principle of free speech;
  • be able to identify the different theories and approaches to free speech, and their respective implications;  
  • identify legal and policy issues in actual and/or hypothetical cases;
  • improve oral communication skills through legal argumentation in English;
  • argue persuasively on legal and policy issues pertaining to free speech.

Course Learning Activities
The seminar will be structured so as to encourage a high degree of interactivity with students. To that end, students are required to attend classes; read the assigned material before the class, in which it is to be discussed; be prepared to participate fully and actively in class discussions; make oral presentations.

Assessment tools
Attendance in class is mandatory to be admitted to the final written examination.
Evaluation of students will be done on a pass/fail basis and will be based upon: final oral presentation (40%), class attendance (30%) and participation in class (30%).

Attendance policy
Attendance in class is mandatory. To be admitted to the final exam, students must attend no less than 2/3 of scheduled class meetings.

Course textbook(s)
No textbook is required. Reading materials will be provided via the e-learning website

Supporting / Recommended course reading material
J. Waldron, The Harm in Hate Speech, Harvard UP, 2012
D. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: Plume, 1993

Course Schedule
Class    Topic and/or Activity Readings
week 1
(March 4 and 5)
Philosophical foundations of free speech
week 2
(March 11 and 12)
 Hate speech
week 3
(March 18 and 19)
 Critical perspectives of free speech: Critical Race Theory and feminist jurisprudence
week 4
(March 25 and 26)
 Holocaust denialism on trial
week 5
(April 8 and 9)
Student presentations and final assessment



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