Fighting Words: Individuals, Communities, and Liberties of Speech

Princeton University Press
Free sample

Should "hate speech" be made a criminal offense, or does the First Amendment oblige Americans to permit the use of epithets directed against a person's race, religion, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual preference? Does a campus speech code enhance or degrade democratic values? When the American flag is burned in protest, what rights of free speech are involved? In a lucid and balanced analysis of contemporary court cases dealing with these problems, as well as those of obscenity and workplace harassment, acclaimed First Amendment scholar Kent Greenawalt now addresses a broad general audience of readers interested in the most current free speech issues.
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About the author

Kent Greenawalt is University Professor at Columbia University and a member of the faculty of the School of Law. He is the author of numerous works including Speech, Crime, and the Uses of Language and Religious Convictions and Political Choice.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
May 13, 1996
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Pages
206
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ISBN
9781400821679
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Contemporary civil libertarians claim that their works preserve a worthy American tradition of defending free-speech rights dating back to the framing of the First Amendment. Transforming Free Speech challenges the worthiness, and indeed the very existence of one uninterrupted libertarian tradition.

Mark A. Graber asserts that in the past, broader political visions inspired libertarian interpretations of the First Amendment. In reexamining the philosophical and jurisprudential foundations of the defense of expression rights from the Civil War to the present, he exposes the monolithic free-speech tradition as a myth. Instead of one conception of the system of free expression, two emerge: the conservative libertarian tradition that dominated discourse from the Civil War until World War I, and the civil libertarian tradition that dominates later twentieth-century argument.

The essence of the current perception of the American free-speech tradition derives from the writings of Zechariah Chafee, Jr. (1885-1957), the progressive jurist most responsible for the modern interpretation of the First Amendment. His interpretation, however, deliberately obscured earlier libertarian arguments linking liberty of speech with liberty of property. Moreover, Chafee stunted the development of a more radical interpretation of expression rights that would give citizens the resources and independence necessary for the effective exercise of free speech. Instead, Chafee maintained that the right to political and social commentary could be protected independent of material inequalities that might restrict access to the marketplace of ideas. His influence enfeebled expression rights in a world where their exercise depends increasingly on economic power.

Untangling the libertarian legacy, Graber points out the disjunction in the libertarian tradition to show that free-speech rights, having once been transformed, can be transformed again. Well-conceived and original in perspective, Transforming Free Speech will interest political theorists, students of government, and anyone interested in the origins of the free-speech tradition in the United States.
Balancing respect for religious conviction and the values of liberal democracy is a daunting challenge for judges and lawmakers, particularly when religious groups seek exemption from laws that govern others. Should members of religious sects be able to use peyote in worship? Should pacifists be forced to take part in military service when there is a draft, and should this depend on whether they are religious? How can the law address the refusal of parents to provide medical care to their children--or the refusal of doctors to perform abortions? Religion and the Constitution presents a new framework for addressing these and other controversial questions that involve competing demands of fairness, liberty, and constitutional validity.

In the first of two major volumes on the intersection of constitutional and religious issues in the United States, Kent Greenawalt focuses on one of the Constitution's main clauses concerning religion: the Free Exercise Clause. Beginning with a brief account of the clause's origin and a short history of the Supreme Court's leading decisions about freedom of religion, he devotes a chapter to each of the main controversies encountered by judges and lawmakers. Sensitive to each case's context in judging whether special treatment of religious claims is justified, Greenawalt argues that the state's treatment of religion cannot be reduced to a single formula.


Calling throughout for religion to be taken more seriously as a force for meaning in people's lives, Religion and the Constitution aims to accommodate the maximum expression of religious conviction that is consistent with a commitment to fairness and the public welfare.

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