Speech Rights in America: The First Amendment, Democracy, and the Media

Overview

Why the First Amendment fails to protect speech rights and what to do about it

The First Amendment is the principle guarantor of speech rights in the United States, but the court’s interpretations of it often privilege the interests of media owners over those of the broader citizenry. In Speech Rights in America, Laura Stein argues that such rulings prevent the First Amendment from performing its critical role as a protector of free speech, ...

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Overview

Why the First Amendment fails to protect speech rights and what to do about it

The First Amendment is the principle guarantor of speech rights in the United States, but the court’s interpretations of it often privilege the interests of media owners over those of the broader citizenry. In Speech Rights in America, Laura Stein argues that such rulings prevent the First Amendment from performing its critical role as a protector of free speech, alienate citizens from their rights, and corrupt the essential workings of democracy.

Stein locates the source of clashes over First Amendment interpretations in the differing views of neoliberal and participatory democratic theory on the meaning of rights and the role of communication in democratic processes. Drawing on the best of the liberal democratic tradition, she develops a systematic and concise definition of democratic speech and compares this definition to legal understandings of speech rights in contemporary media law.  She demonstrates that there is a significant gap between First Amendment law and the speech rights necessary to democratic communication, and proposes an alternative set of principles to guide future judicial, legislative, and cultural policy on old and new media.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An important work, offering sophisticated yet engaging analyses of First Amendment law and the media landscape in which we find ourselves in the United States."—Matthew Bunker, Reese Phifer Professor of Journalism, University of Alabama

"A forceful and intellectually comprehensive argument that the First Amendment should be a positive, not simply a negative, guarantee that empowers and perhaps obliges government to protect the public ends of free expression. . . . Stein brings a breadth of perspectives and material to the subject that few, if any, have managed to do. Her book is an original and important contribution to our understanding of free expression in America."—Randall P. Bezanson, author of How Free Can the Press Be?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252030758
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 10/2/2006
  • Series: The History of Communication Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Stein is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
The First Amendment and Communication in Democratic Societies     1
Rethinking Speech Rights     14
Social Mediation in Print and Broadcast Media     49
The Right to Public Space     66
Democratic Speech Rights on the Internet     81
The Future of Democratic Communication     113
Notes     141
Bibliography     147
Index     161
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