Hotly contested and vigorously defended since it was first
written into the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech is a basic right
that all Americans hold dear. But what of the freedom "not" to
speak? Should, for instance, a special prosecutor be able to compel
a mother to testify about, and incriminate, her own daughter? The
freedom "not" to speak is an implicit "right" that holds great
relevance for all of us-the freedom not to speak when commanded by
church and state, not to sign an oath, not to salute a flag, not to
assert a belief in God, or not to reveal one's political beliefs
Bosmajian traces the history of the freedom not to speak from
the Middle Ages and Inquisition to the twentieth century and the
House Committee on Un-American Activities. His history addresses
the Civil War and Reconstruction loyalty oaths by Union Confederate
soldiers, and the expulsion of Jehovah's Witnesses from schools for
refusing to salute the flag, and includes an analysis of coerced
speech in a variety of literary works. Bosmajian also contemplates
the future of this right to silence and argues for the importance
of a specifically labeled and firmly established freedom not to
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