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Freedom of Speech in American History

Eric Daniels

Presented at: OCON 2008

Date: Jun 28, 2008

Freedom of speech is fundamental to maintaining American political liberty. Increasing government controls over speech—from McCain-Feingold to FCC regulations—are damaging one of America's most important freedoms. To use freedom of speech effectively to change the culture, one must know the proper basis of free speech.

From the colonial struggle against the British imperial system to the tumultuous history of the First Amendment, this course investigates the Alien and Sedition Acts, the slavery debates, the battle over obscenity, and recent developments in online speech. It identifies how the proper defense of freedom of speech has paralleled Americans' understanding and misunderstanding of the proper basis of rights. Dr. Daniels also examines how the concept "censorship" has been corrupted, what "symbolic speech" means for our rights, why property rights and speech are intimately connected, and why modern courts do not understand and cannot fully defend the freedom of speech.

rightsfreedom of speech

Parts: 3

Handout: none

Publications: