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Free Speech

Free Speech

2022 . Political Science, Censorship, History, Europe, Law . Jacob Mchangama

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Free Speech
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About the book

“The best history of free speech ever written and the best defense of free speech ever made.” —P.J. O’Rourke Hailed as the “first freedom,” free speech is the bedrock of democracy. But it is a challenging principle, subject to erosion in times of upheaval. Today, in democracies and authoritarian states around the world, it is on the retreat. In Free Speech, Jacob Mchangama traces the riveting legal, political, and cultural history of this idea. Through captivating stories of free speech’s many defenders—from the ancient Athenian orator Demosthenes and the ninth-century freethinker al-Rāzī, to the anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells and modern-day digital activists—Mchangama reveals how the free exchange of ideas underlies all intellectual achievement and has enabled the advancement of both freedom and equality worldwide. Yet the desire to restrict speech, too, is a constant, and he explores how even its champions can be led down this path when the rise of new and contrarian voices challenge power and privilege of all stripes. Meticulously researched and deeply humane, Free Speech demonstrates how much we have gained from this principle—and how much we stand to lose without it.

Year:

2022

Language:

English

Publisher:

Basic Books

Pages:

528

ISBN:

154162033X (ISBN13: 9781541620339)

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Reviews

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Los Angeles Review of Books image

6 months ago

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The Endless Struggle Between Censorship and Free Speech As Mchangama has brilliantly shown, it is up to each one of us to defend a culture tolerant of heretical ideas, use our system of “open vigilance” to limit the reach of disinformation, agree to disagree without resorting to harassment or hate, and treat free speech as a principle to be upheld universally rather than a prop to be selectively invoked for narrow tribalist point scoring. About the author: Stephen Rohde is a writer, lecturer and political activist. For almost 50 years, he practiced civil rights, civil liberties, and intellectual property law. He is a past chair of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and past National Chair of Bend the Arc, a Jewish Partnership for Justice. He is a founder and current chair of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace; member of the Board of Directors of Death Penalty Focus, and a member of the Black Jewish Justice Alliance.

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