Discuss the evolution of free speech

Filed in Gather Politics News Channel by on February 8, 2008 0 Comments

Does hate speech deserve protection under the First Amendment?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Lewis says it does.  But, in his new book, “Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment,” Lewis says it wasn’t until the 20th century that first amendment rights got much attention, and he says that’s all because of judges in the Supreme Court. 

A recent Word for Word featured Lewis in disucssion about his new book, where he said:

“The first amendment lay unenforced on the Constitution for 140 years and then for 60 years after 1931, it was vigorously, creatively, wonderfully expanded until it covered all sorts of activities including burning flags … and many things all over the map were protected by the first amendment thanks to what judges did.”

Here’s the full Word for Word program description:

The First Amendment ensures that all Americans have the right to free speech. But Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Lewis says it was only in the 20th century that the Supreme Court began to consistently enforce this basic freedom. Lewis discussed the evolution of free speech and what it means to defend speech we disagree with in a Feb. 5 speech at the Commonwealth Club of California.

Should all speech be protected under the Constitution? Are there any circumstances in which free speech should not be protected? What personal stories do you have that have helped shape your ideas?


Larissa Anderson

Producer,Word for Word


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