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March 14, 2002

Speakers consider civil liberties in post-Sept. 11 world

In the wake of the post-Sept. 11 climate of threats to civil liberties, the School of Drama and the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities have planned a public forum, “Rights and Terror: The All Powers Project II,” to invite a public dialogue about the limits of political discourse and actions in a democracy during times of crisis. The forum is scheduled for April 4–7 on campus.

The forum takes its name from a play by Drama Professor Mark Jenkins, All Powers Necessary and Convenient, which was performed here in 1998, the 50th anniversary of the so-called Canwell Committee hearings that resulted in the firing of three UW professors for alleged communism. Combining fact and speculation, the play depicts the events surrounding those hearings.

The play in turn took its name from language in the state legislation creating the Canwell Committee, which gave it “all powers necessary and convenient” for investigating communism in Washington. During “All Powers II,” staged readings of the play will be presented on Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, with discussions afterward designed to provoke dialogue on the similarities between the present situation and the Red Scare.

Constitutional law expert David Cole, a professor at Georgetown Law School, will give the keynote address for the forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4 in 110 Kane. Cole has litigated a number of major First Amendment cases and is the author of No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal System. Panel discussions are slated for Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

All events except the play readings are free. Play tickets, at $10, are available at the Arts Ticket Office, 206-543-4880. For further information see http://artsci.washington.edu/drama