Fighting Words: Individuals, Communities, and Liberties of Speech
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 ... Show synopsis 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 someone burns an American flag or a draft card to express dismay with U.S. policy, what rights of free speech are involved? Are there dangers in fostering reverence for the flag? In a lucid and balanced analysis of contemporary court cases dealing with these problems, as well as those of obscenity and workplace harassment, the acclaimed First Amendment scholar Kent Greenawalt now addresses a broad general audience of readers interested in the most current free-speech issues. For a number of purposes, Greenawalt finds it instructive to compare U.S. and Canadian jurisprudence. He points out, for instance, that the theory under which the Canadian Supreme Court supports suppression of obscenity is strikingly in line with the claims of those feminists who regard obscenity as a major evil: equality, especially the aspirations to equality of groups victimized in the past, rates highly as a constitutional value in Canada. In addition to discussing the sometimes conflicting claims of those seeking freedom of speech and those working to promote equality and protect citizens from oppression, Greenawalt looks at what speech does as well as what it says. He also compares the importance of the motive of the speaker to the actual effect of speech on its audience.