By Steven J. Heyman
Debates over hate speech, pornography, and different different types of arguable speech elevate concerns that visit the middle of the 1st modification. Supporters of legislation argue that those different types of expression reason severe harm to contributors and teams, assaulting their dignity as people and voters. Civil libertarians reply that our dedication to unfastened speech is measured through our willingness to guard it, even if it motives damage or offends our inner most values.
In this crucial e-book, Steven J. Heyman provides a conception of the 1st modification that seeks to beat the clash among unfastened speech and human dignity. This liberal humanist idea acknowledges a powerful correct to freedom of expression whereas additionally supplying safeguard opposed to the main critical types of assaultive speech. Heyman then makes use of the idea to light up quite a lot of modern disputes, from flag burning and antiabortion demonstrations to pornography and hate speech.
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But there are two problems with this conventional approach. First, interests like national security often seem very powerful, especially in times of war and public danger. ≥∫ For these reasons, the government’s invocation of national security will frequently be allowed to overwhelm other values, as it so often has since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. By contrast, as I shall argue in chapter 7, when interests such as national security are recharacterized as rights of the community, the effect is to cabin those interests by situating them within a larger framework of rights—a framework that is based on principles of individual liberty and democratic selfgovernment.
This problem—which goes to the heart of the modern framework—stems from its failure to recognize other rights as an independent element in First Amendment cases. The inadequacy of this view should lead us to give renewed consideration to a rights-based approach to free expression. Of course, this does not mean we should simply return to the eighteenth-century understanding, even if that were possible. ∑∂ The remainder of this book seeks to develop such a theory. P A R T II A Rights-Based Theory of the First Amendment This page intentionally left blank 3 The Basic Approach In this part of the book I develop a rights-based or liberal humanist theory of the First Amendment.
For example, if you injure another person through ‘‘false and slanderous words, . . you commit a wrong, for which [the law] will compel you . . ∏∂ After the Civil War, the Republicans secured the adoption of two constitutional amendments that were intended to more effectually protect natural rights: the Thirteenth, which abolished slavery, and the Fourteenth, which barred the states from abridging the fundamental rights of American citizens. ∏∏ The Republicans’ discussion of freedom of speech and press during the Reconstruction Amendment debates was conﬁned to general terms and sheds little light on the scope of these freedoms.
Free Speech and Human Dignity by Steven J. Heyman