When we talk about what "freedom of speech" means in America,
the discussion almost always centers on freedom rather than speech.
Taking for granted that speech is an unambiguous and stable
category, we move to considering how much freedom speech should
enjoy. But, as Randall Bezanson demonstrates in "Speech Stories,"
speech is a much more complicated and dynamic notion than we often
assume. In an age of rapidly accelerated changes in discourse
combined with new technologies of communication, the boundaries and
substance of what we traditionally deem speech are being
reconfigured in novel and confusing ways.
In order to spark thought, discussion, and debate about these
complexities and ambiguities, Bezanson probes the "stories" behind
seven controversial free speech cases decided by the Supreme Court.
These stories touch upon the most controversial and significant of
contemporary first amendment issues: government restrictions on
hate speech and obscene and indecent speech; pornography and the
subordination of women; the constitutionality of campaign finance
reform; and the treatment to be accorded new technologies of
communication under the Constitution. The result is a provocative
engagement of the reader in thinking about the puzzles and
paradoxes of our commitment to free expression.
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