Free Speech & Soapboxes Reign at Bughouse Square Debates

Generally getting on a soapbox is not a good thing. Nobody likes a pontificator. That is, unless that pontification is part of the Bughouse Square Debates.

This Saturday the free-speech fest takes place in Washington Square Park, 901 N Clark St. The annual event is part of the Newberry Book Fair and features regular Joes and Janes literally getting on soapboxes to persuade you to their points of view. This year they’ll be debating the merits and demerits of topics ranging from real vs. fake news to medical marijuana to immigration. It’s sure to be a lively discussion, and let’s hope everyone brings their ability to agree to disagree.

You can read more about the debates of year’s past on Newberry’s website. They’ve also got a quick history about the lively history of Bughouse Square and why the winner’s awarded a dill pickle.

The event is from 12pm to 4pm on Saturday, July 29. Bring an open mind and your best heckling voice – and your civility.

Bughouse Square Debates 2017 Schedule

Noon: Entertainment

Environmental Encroachment Brass Band

1 pm: Welcome and Introduction to Bughouse Square

1:15 pm: Presentation of the 2017 John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award to Kevin Coval

1:30 pm Main Debate: What Constitutes Legitimate Journalism in a Hyper-Connected World?

What is “real” versus “fake” news? When is it acceptable to publish or broadcast an unsubstantiated report? What sources can be deemed reliable? How does crowd-sourcing fit into the equation? Should journalistic ethics and standards espoused by mainstream print and broadcast reporters and editors be revised, in the face of alternative media and the never-ending 24-hour news cycle? And if so, how?

2:15 pm: Musical Interlude

2:30 pm Soapbox Speeches and Open Soapbox

    • Susan Aarup, “Universal Health Care and Inter-Faith Dialogue”

    • Tom O’Donnell, “There’s a Lie in School”

    • Rachel Cheeseman, “ ‘Don’t Worry Sean, No One Wants to Kill You’: A Non-Apology”

    • Alex Mazarakos, “Is It OK to Punch a Nazi?”


    • Michael Burack, Medical Cannabis Now”

    • Ada Cheng, “Alien Forever?!: The Institutionalization of the Alien Status among Naturalized Citizens”

    • Geoffrey Cubbage, “Alternative Voices Have to Be”

    • Samantha Clark, “H. H. Holmes Never Opened a Hotel during the Chicago Worlds Fair”


    • Jim Leitzel, “Legal Recreational Cocaine”

    • Abhinav Gandhi, “When You Have to Pick a Starbucks Name for Yourself: Views from a Non-Immigrant Alien”

    • Duke-Pierce Reade, “A Time and a Place for the Sticky Wiki”

    • Rachel Goodstein, “More Tough Talk for the Toddling Town—An Ex-Pat’s Powerful Prescription for Chicago’s Persistent Pubescent Problems”

    • Come one, come all! The open soapbox will be available for airing grievances and spreading good news. Just show up and get in line! Back by popular demand, the Society of Smallness will return this year to curate the open soapbox.

3:30 pm: Musical Interlude while the Soapbox Judges make their decision

3:45 pm Dill Pickle Awarded to the Soapbox Champion







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