Devol First Amendment Forum, April 18

April 13, 2018

To recognize the roles parody and satire play in First Amendment rights, California State University, Northridge’s Department of Journalism will host the 27th annual Kenneth S. Devol First Amendment Forum on Wednesday, April 18.

This year’s event showcases the 30thanniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hustler v. Falwell, an unusual lawsuit that pitted an adult magazine against a Southern Baptist televangelist. The high court’s unanimous decision in favor of the magazine established that parodies of public officials, even if they inflict emotional distress, are protected by the First Amendment.

Alan Isaacman, the attorney who argued Hustler v. Falwell before the top court in the land, will speak to CSUN students at the event, from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m., in CSUN’s University Student Union Pasadena Room, located on the eastside of campus at 18111 Nordhoff St.

The public is invited.

“The case of Hustler v. Falwell is an important landmark case that establishes the right to publish parody, even about public figures and even when it’s offensive parody,” said Dr. Elizabeth Blakey, First Amendment scholar and assistant professor in Journalism. “Free speech allows us to look at situations from different perspectives. The parody perspective can often tell us what’s missing in society if you look at things that are ironic.”

Blakey will kick off the event with a discussion about the history of parody and comedy controversies. She also will cover some of the cultural and political values of satire under the First Amendment.

To bring a student perspective to the event, Daniela Barhanna – a CSUN undergraduate parody writer for The Sundial, who is an international student from Stockholm, Sweden – will discuss why she writes parody news. 

Isaacman will close the discussion with an overview of the Hustler v. Falwell case and a debriefing of the historical, comedic, social and ethical perspectives of parody.

A Q&A will follow. 

For more information, please call the Department of Journalism at (818) 677-3135.

   – Brittany Gamble