Dissent, Injustice, and the Meanings of America / Edition 1

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Overview

"In an era when political philosophers from John Rawls to Michael Walzer to Jürgen Habermas appeal to consensus as the basis of political legitimacy, Steven Shiffrin makes compelling the contrary case that dissent is the lifeblood of democracy, and that freedom of speech is its essential guarantor. This refreshing and accessible tour through the logic and purposes of the First Amendment, buttressed by a host of applications to commercial speech, political speech, and hate speech, is valuable reading for all those interested in the dynamics of democratic politics."—Ian Shapiro, Yale University

"Shiffrin, one of the academy's leading first-amendment scholars, weaves into his account critiques of many of the arguments made by contemporary scholars, not to mention often devastating analyses of current Supreme Court doctrine. His analysis of the hash of current doctrine regarding regulation of advertising is particularly telling."—Sanford Levinson, University of Texas at Austin

"What emerges from this fundamental reorientation is . . . a well rendered account of an embattled national vision: a vision of what it might mean to be an engaged participant in civic life, to be an independent thinker, and ultimately to be an American."—Robin West, Georgetown University

"This book will reinforce Shiffrin's position as one of the leading, if not the leading, theorist of a progressive understanding of free speech."—Frederick Schauer, Harvard University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Shiffrin has provided readers with a challenging work that is well worth the reading and, in the opinion of this reviewer, well worth doing. This well-documented book is written in an engaging style with its theme and major points lucidly displayed. Very noteworthy is the author's penetrating analysis of Supreme Court cases."—The Law and Politics Book Review

"In exploring dissent as a tool in opposing injustice, [Shiffrin] examines the place of dissent in liberal theory and in the media marketplace, as well as the marginalization of dissent. A demanding but interesting analysis."—Booklist

Booklist
In exploring dissent as a tool in opposing injustice, [Shiffrin] examines the place of dissent in liberal theory and in the media marketplace, as well as the marginalization of dissent. A demanding but interesting analysis.
The Law and Politics Book Review
Shiffrin has provided readers with a challenging work that is well worth the reading and, in the opinion of this reviewer, well worth doing. This well-documented book is written in an engaging style with its theme and major points lucidly displayed. Very noteworthy is the author's penetrating analysis of Supreme Court cases.
Library Journal
Shiffrin law, Cornell analyzes contemporary First Amendment jurisprudence, paying special attention to problems created by various forms of "hate speech" legislation. He contends that these types of speech restrictions do not fit into the traditional "free speech" framework, one that views free speech as a "marketplace of ideas." Rather, Shiffrin advocates a shift in First Amendment law toward a structure that better ensures various forms of dissent. The freedom to dissent, he observes, is the basis for preventing tyranny, as outlined by such notable liberty theorists as John Stuart Mill. Shiffrin's perspective also seems influenced by nontraditional intellectual strands, such as "critical race theory," which closely examines how racism affects American justice, and neo-Marxism. One is left wondering if he envisions a structure wherein some dissent is more protected than others. This is an academic work that will be appreciated by left-leaning legal scholars--those who will take the time to reread Shiffrin's informed but dense prose.--Steven Anderson, Gordon Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger & Hollander, Baltimore
Booknews
Shiffrin (law, Cornell U.) argues for the centrality of dissent to the American concept of free speech, claiming that it should be actively encouraged by society; and he applies this viewpoint to consideration of such controversial topics as flag burning, cigarette advertising, racist speech, and subsidizing of the arts. He discusses how institutions such as the media and the Supreme Court work to stifle dissent rather than encourage it, and suggests specific changes in society and law that could reverse this trend, such as the reform of defamation laws to make them more open to criticism of those in powerful positions. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
David E. England
Shiffrin has produced a work that is appropriate and necessary reading for anyone interested in social justice and/or the theory of freedom of expression. There certainly should be room on the bookshelf for this one, and it would make a very strong supplementary text for honors/graduate/professional classes dealing with freedom of expression.
Law and Politics Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691070230
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/10/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. 1 The Meanings of America 1
I The First Amendment and the Meaning of America 3
II Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Advertising 32
III Racist Speech, Outsider Jurisprudence, and the Meaning of America 49
Pt. 2 Combating Injustice 89
IV Dissent and Injustice 91
V The Politics of Free Speech 121
Notes 131
Index 199
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