You are cordially invited to the next presentation in the Abrams Institute for the Freedom of Expression Speaker Series on Monday, Dec. 10 at 12:00 p.m. in Room 122 at Yale Law School.
Lyrissa Lidsky, Stephen C. O’Connell Chair & Professor of Law, Fredric G. Levin College of Law at University of Florida will speak about " How Not to Criminalize Cyberbullying."
How Not to Criminalize Cyberbullying
This presentation offers a constitutional critique of the growing body of laws criminalizing cyberbullying. These laws typically proceed by modernizing existing harassment and stalking laws or crafting new criminal offenses. Both paths are beset with First Amendment perils, which I will illustrate through case studies of selected legislative efforts. Reflexive criminalization in response to tragic cyberbullying incidents has led law-makers to conflate cyberbullying as a social problem with cyberbullying as a criminal problem, creating pernicious consequences. The legislative zeal to eradicate cyberbullying potentially produces disproportionate punishment of common childhood wrongdoing, and statutes criminalizing cyberbullying are especially likely to overreach in ways that offend the First Amendment, resulting in suppression of constitutionally protected speech, misdirection of prosecutorial resources, misallocation of public funds, and obstruction of more effective legislative reforms. To avoid these problems going forward, I offer those who would combat cyberbullying the First Amendment guidance necessary to distinguish the types of cyberbullying that can be addressed by education, socialization, and stigmatization from those that can be remedied with censorship and criminalization. I also hope to suggest fruitful avenues for future cyberbullying research.
Lyrissa Lidsky joined the faculty of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law in 1994, after clerking for the Honorable Joseph T. Sneed on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She currently holds the Stephen C. O’Connell Chair in Law. Her areas of expertise include speech and press freedom and the application of First Amendment principles to emerging media. She is the co-author, with Marc Franklin and David A. Anderson, of the most widely adopted Mass Media Law casebook in American law schools, and she has also co-authored books on Torts and First Amendment law. Her research on social media and cyberlaw includes law review articles in leading journals, with titles such as Public Forum 2.0; Silencing John Doe; Incendiary Speech and Social Media; and How Not to Criminalize Cyberbullying, all of which are available at http://ssrn.com/author=247860. Her research on anonymous speech has been cited in opinions by state and federal appellate courts and the Supreme Court of Canada. She received her J.D. with high honors from the University of Texas and was a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University prior to attending law school. She received her B.A. from Texas A&M University summa cum laude.