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Free Speech in an Open Society

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Should we tolerate speech designed to spread intolerance? As we grope for a response, we find our constitutional and moral imperatives for tolerance and equality in conflict with the equally imperative value of free speech. This is but one of the many such pressing issues dealt with in this timely, important book. Exploring the question "What should freedom of speech mean in a democracy?," Rodney Smolla argues that it is a value of overarching significance. Freedom of speech, he says, is not merely an aid to ...
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1st Edition, Fine/Fine Clean, bright & tight. No ink names, tears, chips, foxing etc. Price unclipped. ISBN 0679407278

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Free Speech in an Open Society

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Overview

Should we tolerate speech designed to spread intolerance? As we grope for a response, we find our constitutional and moral imperatives for tolerance and equality in conflict with the equally imperative value of free speech. This is but one of the many such pressing issues dealt with in this timely, important book. Exploring the question "What should freedom of speech mean in a democracy?," Rodney Smolla argues that it is a value of overarching significance. Freedom of speech, he says, is not merely an aid to self-governance, but is uniquely connected to all that defines the human spirit--to imagination, creativity, enterprise, rationality, love, worship, and wonder. In a complex modern society, freedom of speech is constantly threatened by other social interests and values, which often seem more important in the short term: national security, personal reputation and privacy, eliminating racism and sexism, instilling values of decency and tolerance in children, controlling the corrupting influences of money on the political process, and bringing order to global electronic communications--all worthy social interests. Smolla shows how even seemingly reasonable regulation of speech tends to progress inexorably toward censorship. He takes on the difficult issue of Who Decides, and he analyzes symbolic and violent dissent, and the "clear and present danger" doctrine. He probes the disturbing issues of hate speech, obscenity, tolerating intolerance, and truth and falsehood in political campaigns. He looks at personal confidentiality, ponders the possible criteria for creating an objective definition of newsworthiness and public speech--especially with reference to governmental funding of the arts, education, and broadcasting--and explores the implications of the Noriega case, Persian Gulf censorship issues, attempts to export the American concept of free speech, and the challenge of new technologies. Throughout, the discussion of pros and cons is balanced, yet Smolla

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.

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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: 9780679407270
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/24/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 429

Table of Contents

I The Meaning of Freedom of Speech in an Open Culture
1 The Case for an Open Culture 3
2 The Shortcomings of All Simple Answers 18
3 A Model for Freedom of Speech 43
II Free Speech and the Political Community
4 Patriotism, Community, and Dissent 69
5 Personal Reputation and Privacy 117
6 Hate Speech: Tolerating Intolerance 151
7 Public Funding of the Arts, Education, and Other Forms of Public Speech 170
8 Money and Politics 220
III News-Gathering in the International Marketplace
9 The Noriega Tapes and Other Lessons in Prior Restraints 243
10 The Parable of the Persian Gulf: The First Casualty of War 291
11 The Challenges of New Technologies 321
12 Toward an International Marketplace of Ideas 343
Notes 369
Index 415
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