Free Speech in an Open Society

Free Speech in an Open Society

by Rodney A. Smolla
     
 

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This grand tour of First Amendment law underlines the intimate connection between free expression and democratic values as it leads us through the most treacherous and emotionally charged cases in American jurisprudence. “Intellectually venturesome. . . .”—The New York Times Book Review


From the Trade Paperback edition.See more details below

Overview

This grand tour of First Amendment law underlines the intimate connection between free expression and democratic values as it leads us through the most treacherous and emotionally charged cases in American jurisprudence. “Intellectually venturesome. . . .”—The New York Times Book Review


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Smolla offers an eloquent, carefully reasoned brief for society's need to protect citizens from the government's inherent proclivity to engage in censorship and secrecy. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
A superb exposition of the significance of free speech and an analysis of how to preserve it in our increasingly complex society. Smolla (Law/Marshall-Wythe School of Law at William and Mary College) makes a case for an open culture—one in which free-speech values pervade and permit a robust and open exchange of ideas. Seeing the achievement of such a culture as "an aspiration of transcendent importance," he envisions a society in which free speech is seen both as a means of testing and choosing the best ideas—the "marketplace" rationale for free speech—and as an end in itself. Smolla demonstrates, however, that, in practice, society attempts to establish limits on speech that often lead to significant diminution of speech. He analyzes the possible harms of speech—to persons and property; to social, transactional, and business relationships; to individuals and to communal sensibilities—and creates a theoretical hierarchy of harms that, in his view, can create a theoretical basis for regulating speech (how his theory can be reconciled with the absolutist language of the First Amendment is not clear). After discussing this theoretical groundwork, Smolla examines the application of free- speech principles in practical situations, which he divides broadly into political speech (such as hate speech, obscenity, individual privacy, and public funding of the arts) and issues raised by newsgathering (such as censorship in the Persian Gulf War, the attempt to restrain release of tapes in the Noriega case, and the challenges posed by new technologies). Avoiding easy answers, the author demonstrates an acute sensitivity to the importance of preserving free speech whilerecognizing the practical problems faced by policy-makers. Smolla takes a scholarly—yet accessible—approach to his subject and displays a sure knowledge of recent First Amendment jurisprudence. An excellent and important work.

From the Publisher
"A clear-headed guide through difficult terrain...Well-written, firm in its judgements, passionate about speech itself." —Washington Post Book World
"A scholarly work that goes beyond the platitudes of the debate over the First Amendment."—The Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307773036
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/12/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
File size:
1 MB

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