"Undiscussable" topics on tap in a series of edgy legal seminars
California State University Channel Islands
California State University Channel Islands

Camarillo, CA - The clash between free speech and freedom of religion has resulted in bloodshed more than once.

The most recent and one of the bloodiest was on Jan. 7, 2015, when two armed brothers broke into the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, and killed 12 people to avenge a cartoon the magazine published of the Islamic prophet Muhammed.

The tragedy polarized shocked citizens who proclaimed support for free speech with "Je suis Charlie" and those who saw it as blasphemy who proclaimed "Je ne suis pas Charlie."

Freedom of speech versus what other cultures consider blasphemy is the subject of the first of several lectures on sensitive topics considered "undiscussable," according to organizer Panda Kroll, Esq., a CSU Channel Islands (CI) business law lecturer.

All of the seminars will cover some form of bias we may harbor about everything from religion to sexual orientation to race.

"My goal with these talks is, can we have a conversation where we have some exposure to people with different strategies and values that's a safe conversation?" Kroll said. "Can we have a civil dialogue experience?"
The first seminar: "Bias and Blasphemy: A Medieval Concept with Contemporary Consequences" will take place at noon, Wednesday, April 29 at the Ventura County Bar Association at 4475 Market Street in Ventura.

The guest speaker for the first presentation will be lifelong social activist Dr. John Suarez, a retired Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and Trustee for Americans United for Separation of Church and Outreach Coordinator, Center For Inquiry.

Suarez, of Thousand Oaks, speaks about civil rights, social and economic justice, the environment, public education and the First Amendment. On Wednesday, he will discuss balancing the right to free speech with what others may consider hate speech.

"The attack on Charlie Hebdo symbolically said 'We are not going to let you speak freely and say things that are negative,'" Suarez said. "I think we should go out of our way not to offend anyone, but on the other hand, I don't think we should welcome an outside element telling us and pushing us to revise our basic freedoms."

The rest of the presentations are:

— "Gender and Sexual Diversity: Cultural and Legal Issues regarding Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Transgender Community."
Speaking will be Amara Kirby, Esq., Deputy Public Defender for the office of the Ventura County Public Defender.

Kirby has a decade of experience with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) legal and social concerns. The presentation will be Wednesday, May 27 at the Tower Club at 300 E. Esplanade Dr. in Oxnard.

"Bias and Religious Garb," by Naseem Kabir, of the Conejo Valley Islamic Center who is also a microbiologist. Wednesday, July 1, at noon at the Ventura County Bar Association, 4475 Market Street in Ventura.

"Our Innate Cognitive Biases: How Emotion and Tribalism Divide us and How to Avoid Prejudice and Hype." The guest speaker will be Tom Krause, who holds a doctorate in psychology. Wednesday, July 29, at noon at the Ventura County Bar Association, 4475 Market Street in Ventura. Krause is a management consultant and former chairman of an Ojai-based global consulting firm.

The presentations are sponsored by CI, the Ventura County Bar Association, the Ventura County Public Defender's office and the Ventura County Diversity Bar Alliance with support from Kroll's office, Benton, Orr, Duval and Buckingham law office.

For additional information contact Panda Kroll at panda.kroll@csuci.edu or 805-648-5111 ext. 319.

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI's strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master's degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI's Social Media.

The California State University (CSU) will reach a significant milestone of 3 million alumni during commencement in spring 2015 and has launched the world's largest yearbook. The Class of 3 Million online yearbook is an interactive platform where alumni can create a profile and connect with the millions of other alumni from the 23 CSU campuses across the state. Alumni who sign up for the yearbook will also be entered into a special contest to win one of three $10,000 scholarships for a current or future student, sponsored by Herff Jones. For more information about the yearbook and the Class of 3 Million, visit https://classof3million.calstate.edu/