Freedom of Expression

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002 - Freedom of speech - 328 pages
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Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution as a sacred right of the American people. The appeal is clear: Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. Yet the ink had barely dried on the Constitution before the first landmark freedom of expression issue exploded onto the scene. This student resource traces 11 such issues that have polarized the nation. These events show the variety, complexity, and intensity that freedom of speech and expression issues engender.

Magee illustrates how the United States has worked through these contentious periods with American citizens' freedoms remaining intact, if not enhanced. An annotated bibliography follows each issue to provide avenues for further research, and a timeline and general bibliography provide additional reference support.

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Selected pages


Historical Narrative
The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
The Abolitionist Movement
The Civil War
The Comstock Law
World War I and Its Aftermath
The Cold War and the Red Menace
The Civil Rights Movement
The Vietnam War
The Nazi March on Skokie
Political Correctness and Free Speech on Campus
The Internet
Selected Bibliography

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 53 - I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.
Page 25 - If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.
Page 190 - against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.
Page 139 - I do not doubt for a moment that by the same reasoning that would justify punishing persuasion to murder, the United States constitutionally may punish speech that produces or is intended to produce a clear and imminent danger that it will bring about forthwith certain substantive evils that the United States constitutionally may seek to prevent.
Page 85 - Must I shoot a simpleminded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend into a public meeting, and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to write the soldier boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked administration of a contemptible government, too weak to arrest and punish him if 1863] Letter to Corning 309 he shall desert.
Page 138 - States, and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United Slates, or the Constitution of the United States...
Page 266 - Some of her answers might excite popular prejudice, but if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.
Page 27 - ... valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact, and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers not granted by the said compact, the !States who are parties thereto have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose...
Page 28 - ... so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the particular enumeration which necessarily explains, and limits the general phrases, and so as to consolidate the states by degrees into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and inevitable result of which would be, to transform the present republican system of the United States into an absolute, or at best, a mixed monarchy.
Page 139 - In this case, sentences of twenty years' imprisonment have been imposed for the publishing of two leaflets that I believe the defendants had as much right to publish as the Government has to publish the Constitution of the United States now vainly invoked by them.

About the author (2002)

JAMES MAGEE is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

Bibliographic information