William and Mary Law School

Professor Timothy Zick Offers Expert Opinion on Quran Burning and the First Amendment

Professor Timothy Zick, an expert on free speech, was quoted in multiple news stories concerning the Quran burning planned by a Florida minister on September 11, 2010.  “The fundamental principle is that the government cannot restrict speech based on its content, even if an audience finds it offensive," Zick explained to BBC NewsAOL News asked for Zick’s opinion on whether the Quran burning could be stopped before it starts.  AdnKronos International also interviewed Zick, asking specifically about the difference between American and European hate speech standards.  Zick commented, "People can say all sorts of hateful things free of government interference [in the U.S.].”  He explained that U.S. free speech law protects speaker autonomy more robustly than does the speech law in European nations, which tends to place greater weight on values like dignity and equality.

Professor Zick is a widely recognized expert on the First Amendment and freedom of speech.   His book, Speech Out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places (Cambridge University Press 2009) examines the dynamic intersection of place and the First Amendment.  Zick is also the author of a blog about related issues, SpeechOutofDoors.com.